Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Just how far should Christians go to impose our morality on Secular Society?

Do you believe that there are some Christian morals that should be codified into secular law?  If so, which ones and where and how do you draw the line between "common sense morality" and a Puritan Theocracy? 

Just as an advisory:  I fully support ALL positions on social issues, sexuality, and gender issues of my Church, the LCMS, as correct, Biblical guidelines for the Church and my home.  I would fight against any attempt to change the LCMS position on these issues.  My difficulty is how far do I go in trying to impose my Christian beliefs on secular, non-Christian society.

So where would YOU draw the line?  Would you support positions #1 thru #5 on the list below, but consider the remainder to be an over-reach?  Or would you support all of these changes to American law as appropriate for a "Christian" nation?  Please leave a comment below.  The comment box will allow anonymous comments, if you prefer. 

You may believe that some of the proposed "laws" near the bottom of the list are ridiculous, but remember there are people who think that ALL the laws below are ridiculous and a violation of the Separation of Church and State.

Which of these legal positions/changes would YOU support in US/state law:

1.   Criminalization of late term abortions, but continue to allow early term abortions.
2.   Criminalization of the killing of unborn children, except in the cases of risk to mother's life, rape and incest.
3.   Criminalization of the killing of unborn children except in the case of risk to mother's life.
4.   Criminalization of the killing of unborn children (abortion) in all cases.
5.  Constitutional amendment to ban homosexual marriage.
6.  Criminalization of all homosexual activity.
7.  Criminalization of all forms of pornography.
8.  Criminalization of all books, literature deemed to be immoral:  ie.  John Steinbeck (The Grapes of Wrath), Ernest Hemingway, Faulkner, etc.
9.  Outlaw divorce except in the case of infidelity.
10.  Outlaw divorce except in the cases of infidelity and physical abuse.
11.  Criminalization of fornication (pre-marital heterosexual sex).
12.  Criminalization of unmarried, opposite sex persons living together.
13.  Criminalization of the manufacture, distribution, and use of contraception.
14.  Enshrinement in law that the husband is the head of the home, therefore the legally responsible party for property and children.
15.  Congressional proclamation to declare the United States a Christian nation.
16.  Constitutional amendment making Christianity the official religion of the United States.
17.  Constitutional amendment for mandatory, daily, public school prayer to Jesus Christ.
18.  Constitutional amendment for a national "Blue Law" banning all commercial activity on the Christian sabbath (Sunday).
19.  Legalization of discrimination banning women from holding any job positions where they would have authority over men.
20.  Uniform national "Dress code" for standards of appropriate "modesty":  banning of bikinis, G-strings, mini-skirts, etc.  Mandatory minimum dress lengths.  Criminal penalties for violations.
21.  Removal/deportation of all non-Christians from the United States.
22.  Mandatory church attendance for all US citizens.  Criminal penalties for violations.


  1. This post has had alot of "hits" today. In fact, it is one of the most popular posts today on Lutheran.com. People are reading this post, including alot of Lutheran pastors, but no one is commenting.

    Are people afraid to stick their necks out on this subject?

    I think it is a very important issue for Christians. How far do we go in imposing our moral values on secular society?

    It would be nice to get the perspective of some Lutheran pastors. From looking around at other blogs on Lutherans.com it seems that Lutheran pastors rarely comment on "laypeople's" blogs, but they comment ad nauseum on each other's blogs.

    Am I the only one who notices this?

  2. No Gary you are not the only one to notice this..I have noticed that Lutheran pastors do not comment on lay blogs but they do on alot of each others blogs. Even when you ask for pastor opinions they do not give it. I don't know why and was wondering too.

    As far as this post, I, a lay person, wasn't quite sure how to comment but I do want to. A lot of these things you have mentioned are cultural and some are things I wouldnt want to see happen (state religion). And of course how could some of it be inforced.--such as #11. On the other hand there are plenty of things people did 20, 30, or 40 years ago that sure would be nice to have back. Decent dressing and school prayer for example.

    I saw a teen wearing a shirt praising drugs and sex the other day. She was obviously pregnant and I wondered what kind of home the baby would have.

    I know plenty of people would disagree with me and prefer the loose morals we have now but so be it. So many of these things you listed can't be enforced but there was so much less of what was openly sinful a few decades ago.

    I would like to see more pastors comment on this blog. I asked for pastor opinions on something on this blog several months ago and Gary was the sole commentor. I can say this is a good blog with or without comments though. Thanks Gary.

    1. Thank you for the kind words and encouragement!

      It is strange. If you go to www.lutherans.com, a website predominated by Lutheran pastors' blogs, my articles are frequently some of the most read/most popular. However, I can count on one hand the number of Lutheran pastors who have ever left a comment under one of my articles.

      Maybe there is a secret rule that forbids them to do so!

  3. Today, this website had more "hits" (views) than on any day since its inception. The above post was the #1 most popular post on Lutherans.com, a website predominated by Lutheran pastors' blogs.

    However, not one Lutheran pastor was willing to stick his neck out and comment on this very tough issue. Too bad. I and my readers could use some pastoral guidance on this issue.

    Does everyone see my point on this topic? If it is ok to impose our Christian morals in items #1 through #5 (on the above list) onto secular society with laws, why is it wrong to try and impose at least everything down to #12?

    Why aren't Christians pushing for the criminalization of divorce, premarital sex, and co-habitation? There doesn't seem to me to be a Scriptural way to include some items and exclude others. If we are going to impose Christian morals on secular society why just do it half-way? Shouldn't it be all or none?

    Anyone have any suggestions?

  4. Am I the only commenter on this well read blog?

    It is impossible to enforce all of the things you listed. You are playing the devils advocate again. Even Israel didn't obey God in the Old Testament.

    As I understand it, Lutherans do not live under the law. Being fairly new to Lutheranism, as I understand things, we are free to do what God in the Bible does not specifically tell us not to do. I guess that can get kind of tricky as #21 is off the wall and for #22 one must want to go to church or what good does it do (plus it is back to a state religion). Also what church does it mean? There are some unique (to say the least) churches out there and plenty not proclaiming Jesus but claim to be Christian. Is any church ok? This could end up like the Pharisees with their rules. Isn't this what Jesus death freed us from?

    I would love to see some comments from LCMS pastors. In the past there was a Baptist pastor commenting. Having recently come out of nondenom teaching I am not clear on so many things. Anything you post I drink right up...ok not gun stuff and non doctrinal issues. But it sure would be nice to get LCMS pastors commenting on here too. Aren't Lutheran pastors trained in Greek and other languages that could shed a some different light on things?

    1. Here is why I posted this article: Even though I personally believe that abortion is a terrible sin and that all sexual activity outside of traditional marriage is a sin, does Scripture compel me to actively pursue making these activities illegal under secular law? Is that the obligation of a good Christian?

      For instance, why am I against abortion? I am against abortion because I believe that abortion kills a human being, made in God's image, who possesses a soul.

      But if I were not a Christian. If I were simply a humanist, then what difference is the life of an unborn human to that of the life of an unborn cat or dog?

      I recently had one of my cats "fixed". The vet came out afterwards and told me that my cat was pregnant and that he aborted (killed) the unborn kittens. Did I feel terrible anguish of remorse because I was responsible for the deaths of these kittens? No, of course not.

      So, if I were not a Christian. If I did not believe in God, the life of a human would be of no more value than the life of any other creature. If I feel no remorse for aborting unborn kittens, why should I then feel remorse for aborting an unborn human...if the life of a human being is of no more value than the life of a cat??

      My views on the sanctity of human life are therefore based on my religious beliefs. So, is it appropriate, therefore, for me to impose my Christian morality regarding aborting human "fetuses" onto secular society by advocating for legal sanctions against this practice?

      That is my dilemma.

      I do not doubt the sinfulness of abortion. What I question is the appropriateness of Christian political involvment on this and other social issues.

      Any suggestions LCMS Lutheran pastors?

  5. I heard Todd Wilkin comment that he heard the Lutheran church (he is LCMS)is thought by outsiders to be very liberal. Could all this Christain freedom I have heard about fit in the abortion and premarital sex catagory too? I dont know. I have been a a Lutheran under a year so don't know much about the rules on this.

    1. The LCMS is firmly against abortion and all sexual activity outside of traditional marriage, as it should be, as the Bible states the Church should be.

      The ELCA is liberal, the LCMS is conservative, and the WELS is ultra-conservative (they do not allow women to vote, even on whether or not to put a new roof on the church).

    2. Well, I'm disappointed that LCMS pastors have chosen not to comment on this post, but I am sure they have good reasons for doing so.

      Regardless, in my humble opinion, confessional Lutheranism represents the true Christian/catholic Faith, and the LCMS is the best representative of Confessional Lutheranism in the United States.

  6. Gentlemen,

    Several things to take into consideration in this post before one can lay out answers.

    1) How does the Bible's teaching of the two kingdoms play into this post?

    2) Where is the pastor's primary work to take place? The right or left hand kingdom?

    3)How does one's vocation impact the way that one answers these questions?

    4) Is America or was America a Christian nation?

    Finally, a bit of encouragement... I would not determine the success or failure of a blog on the amount of comments that are made. For my blog, I typically don't receive a lot of comments but it is very well read. This is what I suspect happens with Gary's blog.

    Grace and peace,

    ~pastor matt richard

    1. You know that I deeply respect you, Pastor Matt, but your explanation is as clear as mud, at least to me.

      I am looking for a clear answer to this question: Is it my Christian duty, my confessional Lutheran duty, to advocate for secular laws banning/criminalizing:
      -gay marriage
      -all homosexual activity
      -fornication (pre-marital sex)

      In my confessional Lutheran Church I want all of these sins to be preached against. But what about my role as a Christian in society?

      If your answer to the above question is "yes" on abortion and gay marriage, then why not the rest? How do lay confessional Lutherans know where to draw the line for imposing Christian morality on secular society?

  7. Personally, I would support 3 or 4 only. I respect separation of church and state, but abortion is taking away rights from those who cannot defend themselves. I realize not everybody shares that view that an unborn child should have rights, but because I see that child as having a soul, and the huge consequences that result in an abortion, I think it is vital that we stand up for life.

    Beyond #4, I would not legislate morality. I realize many may not agree with this. I don't see how you could otherwise draw a line somewhere below it.

    1. Thank you for a straight forward answer!

      You have chosen to base your decision on the belief that a fetus is a human being, and therefore as a human being he/she has the same rights as all other human beings in the United States. I like that answer! That is a valid answer, in my humble opinion!

      Telling secular society that we as Christians are against abortion because the infant has a soul, doesn't fly with secular society. They won't listen to us. But emphasizing that ALL HUMAN BEINGS should have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness...now that makes alot of sense! Thank you!!

      However, this approach is devoid of any "Christian" perspective. Any American...Christian, humanist or pagan could take this view.

      So should we as Christians be involved in political campaigns against abortion and especially against gay marriage (which does not deprive another human being of life) based on the morals that we believe God gives us in the Bible? Should confessional Lutherans be involved with groups like "Focus on the Family" to codify Christian morals into secular law, and should we join such groups on television news programs to battle against pro-abortion, pro-gay rights advocates?

      Is the Christian compelled by Scripture to use the "sword", or the legal system, to combat and if possible eliminate, immorality in secular society?

    2. Can Christians be involved with such groups? Certainly. I think there is precedent in the civil laws of the Old Testament that show a society with very little separation of church and state.

      But should they feel compelled to? I don't see any reason why.

      And personally, as a citizen of a country predicated on personal freedoms, I don't get too excited about groups of these. I support individual freedoms, as long as they don't infringe on someone else's freedom (i.e. that of an unborn child). Christians have certainly enjoyed many blessings in this country as a result of these freedoms. So, I would not participate with such groups, and tend to vote on the side of individual freedom.

      For me, the difficulty then lies in that belief vs. wanting my children to grow up in a reasonably moral society, which seems to be eroding away quickly.

      Interesting topic...

  8. Rev. Mathew AndersenMarch 5, 2013 at 10:46 AM

    I just came across your blog today so I will post.

    Firstly, I would support option 3. Even if others do not believe the unborn child is a person, that does not change the fact that it is a living and real individual human being and should be defended, especially against those who would violate it at the deepest level by not only killing the child but denying its humanity. None of the other items on the list involve direct harm to another human being and so the government has the freedom to enforce or not enforce them as the nation sees fit (though many, such as forced church attendance, would be grave mistakes)

    That being said, the primary means by which we change a society is by first changing people through the Law and the Gospel. It is a gross violation of Law and Gospel to enforce the 3rd use of the law through the application of the first use.

    The early Christians changed the Roman world by taking in the unwanted children who had been exposed to die and by giving dignity and Christian mercy to all, not by arguing natural Law and hosting protests.

    Even Justin Martyr in his open letter to the emperor first expressed Christian faith and beliefs in order to demonstrate why it would be in the empires best interest to stop killing Christians. He did not rely on natural law nor threaten the emperor with hell.

    When it comes to abortion, we have actually been doing what we are supposed to do in the last few years and the change is showing in the gradual shift among our young people to a pro-life stand. We have offered counseling, adoption services, prenatal care and emotional support to unwed mothers while focusing more on praying for the forgiveness of abortion workers than on protesting against them. We have been actively proclaiming and applying both Law and Gospel. And it is working, albeit slowly. This is precisely what we are to do.

    But when it comes to things like homosexuality, the Gospel is almost completely neglected and the offer of friendship and support virtually absent.

    The sad thing is that, in talking to literally hundreds of homosexual both in the gay community and those who have chosen celibacy or heterosexual marriage, I hear the same sorry story. They are lonely and isolated in the Church and even if they are faithful believers, they almost never hear a pastor or a Christian talk with them or to them about forgiveness. This, more than homosexual behavior, is an abomination. No Christian, least of all one who is standing against his temptations in such a manner, should be made to feel cut off from the Body of Christ.

    So, while I would prefer to not see homosexual marriage legalized or the proliferation of pornography. At this point, because we have not done what we, in the Church are called to do, I see no point in forcing pagans to act like Christians are supposed to.

    Many of the other items on the list are, of course, things that would be against our theology to begin with. Enforcement of blue laws or church attendance would truly violate the two kingdom theology of the LCMS. This is one reason we have traditionally been against prayer in public schools.

    1. Thank you for this wonderful, insightful comment, Pastor!

  9. The Church has a role to promote virtue and oppose vice, not for the morality of people but for the good of society. In the same way as the Law serves as a curb against rampant sinfulness (e.g. not everyone is a mass murderer), it also demonstrates the way the creation is designed to function. This is what theologians call teh natural law.

    Our protestations in the public square against abortion and same-sex marriage should focus less on what the Word of God has to say and more on what the law inherent in nature dictates. Taking life is universally recognized as wrong. So the debate on abortion should concentrate on what is life and when does it begin. And condemnation of homosexual marriage should begin less with "Thus saith the Lord" and more with "An inherently unfruitful union of two same-sex partners can never be the same as a potentially fruitful union of two opposite sex partners."

    1. Now you are talking! Don't impose your religious views on secular society, just impose the "natural law". That is a step in the right direction!

      Your argument absolutely works for abortion. All societies protect their young. It is in our "nature". It is unnatural to kill an innocent human being, especially a baby. I agree with you 100% and if conservative Christians wanted to reduce the number of abortions, this is the strategy they should pursue, not trying to tell non-Christians that a five week old fetus has a soul.

      Unfortunately, your argument against gay relationships falls flat. There have been many societies throughout history that were accepting of same-sex relationships. (Alexander the Great and Greece for one). It is not the State's business who you choose to co-habitate with, sleep with, have sex with, or commit to a long-term relationship, as long as that person is a consenting adult. Natural Law does not require all relationships to be for the purpose of pro-creation! Many very successful relationships are for the sole purpose of companionship.

      Keep the State and the State Church out of our bedrooms!

      The Church SHOULD enforce Biblical restrictions on sexual behaviors WITHIN the Church. There should be no compromise on this issue. But the Church has no business forcing these beleifs off on secular society.

      Did Jesus try to change Roman law to conform to his teachings? Did Paul or Peter try to change Roman law to conform to the new religion. No. Their sole goal was to change hearts, not secular laws.

    2. Dr Joel Biermann taught a lay Bible Institute on this topic at Concordia seminary st Louis. It is on iTunes for free download. It was excellent. There are 8 hours of instruction and worth your time. He covers all your questions, two kingdoms, natural law etc.

  10. One of the "gay agenda recent victories was established when homosexual autoworkers were successful in coercing the UAW management to quietly slip their gay and lesbian partners into the autoworkers benefit package...These same-sex gay and lesbian people had nothing to do with the auto industry and didn't work for the companies or earn these benefits.

  11. I read the biography of Cotton Mather [a great Puritan preacher]. He got more volunteers to work on monitoring the lifestyles of the residents then any other committee.

    1. That would probably be the most popular committee in a fundamentalist church today, also.

      Thank you for your comment.

  12. As individual christians we can all have our opinions on how to vote. Now with regard to the church it is inappropriate for the church to take positions on civic issues, and this includes abortion and homosexuality. Think about it if the church were to oppose homosexual marriage or abortion, this would be a de-facto endorsement of the republican party since we all know that democrats support abortion on demand and homosexual marriage. The implications of the church taking a stand on political issues are devastating, there is no precedent in the New Testament of the Church taking positions on Government issues. The only thing that is appropriate is for the Church to continue to rejoice over the constitutional right to preach the gospel every Sunday, but to go beyond this and support anti-abortion and anti-homosexual marriage candidates is to beg for a theocracy. On Sundays the church needs to administer the means of grace, i.e. preach the gospel and administer the Sacraments. Preaching against abortion or homosexual marriage on a Sunday is no precisely delivering the means of grace that have been entrusted to the church, but instead we turn the church into a political machine. This is something the New Testament clearly opposes and there's no single bible verse to support the Church taking a stand on political matters like abortion or homosexual marriages. I'm glad I live in Canada and the lutheran church here does not get involved in politics, instead it focuses on preaching God's Word, baptising, and celebrating the Lord's Supper. Something has gone terribly wrong when a Church like the LCMS ends up in actuality supporting the Republican Party at the expense of the Democratic Party,


I welcome all constructive comments, praise and criticism.

Has this blog changed your views on the Christian faith?