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Should morality play a part in politics?

Money of the World. Illustration copyrighted.

A Biblical worldview: Economics or Morality?

“Thou shalt meditate in this book of the law… that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success” Joshua 1:8.

This verse describes what is called a “Biblical worldview,” a philosophy which believes that behavior, ethics, and learning must be judged against the standards set forth in God’s Word and that nothing can ultimately be successful apart from the application of those standards.

William Blackstone statue. Courtesy of Wikipedia.
Sir William Blackstone statue in Washington, D.C.

Blackstone's Commentaries on the Laws, the legal benchmark used in America from 1766 to 1920, explained that system of standards:

“These laws laid down by God are the eternal immutable laws of good and evil… This law… dictated by God himself, is of course superior in obligation to any other. It is binding over all the globe, in all countries, and at all times: no human laws are of any validity if contrary to this… The doctrines thus delivered… are to be found only in the Holy Scriptures… No human laws should be suffered to contradict these.”

Under this legal standard, God’s standards were the plumb line for law, government, education, etc. That philosophy of life, sometimes called “Scottish Common Sense Realism,” first introduced on this continent by early colonists and later codified by Blackstone, permeated American culture for over two-and-a-half centuries.

In this half of the twentieth century, much of the church has drifted away from the Biblical World View philosophy and has embraced a belief structure described by law professor Dr. John Eidsmoe as that of “saved humanists.” That is, many embrace Christianity as a standard for religion, but not as a standard for life.

Exit polls following the last Presidential election illustrated the dichotomy between belief and application which currently exists within the Christian community: 45 percent of those who labeled themselves as “evangelicals” voted for “economic” issues above “moral” issues. Few can ignore the government's serious economic problems and burgeoning federal deficit; however, to elevate economics above morality is not only Biblically untenable, it is even secularly illogical.

Sin. Photography copyrighted.

If the economy and a reduction in federal spending is to be the goal, then it first must be recognized that much of the government's skyrocketing spending is on programs resulting from the societal effects of immoral behavior, i.e., welfare support to teen mothers, research and treatment of over two dozen different sexually transmitted diseases, repaying the public losses resulting from both violent and white-collar crime, creation of substance abuse and drug enforcement programs, etc. Many expensive federal programs result from moral-based problems.

In 1994 the U.S. government spent $21 billion on welfare to teen mothers—mothers still attending either junior-high or high-school. Is $21 billion an economic problem? Certainly, but it is spending caused by a moral problem. The government spent billions on AIDS (according to the Center for Disease Control, 87 percent of the 244,939 current AIDS cases were contracted either through sodomy or illegal drug use, both moral problems). Millions were spent on the treatment of two-dozen different STDs (sexually transmitted diseases), a moral problem; $200 billion was lost to white-collar crime and $310 billion on violent crime (the inability to distinguish between right or wrong and to control one's behavior by a societal norm is a moral problem).

In addition to the direct costs, add the secondary and tertiary costs of our moral malaise: include the costs of the additional courts and staff needed to prosecute immoral behavior; include the costs of the additional prisons and staff required to house those violators; include the operating and maintenance costs of additional prisons and the costs of the increased bureaucracy it produces; include the resulting increases in the budgets of the Justice Department, the Health and Human Services Department, the Center for Disease Control, the Drug Enforcement Agency, and numerous other departments and agencies, etc.

The list could continue, but the principle is established: if the moral issues remain unaddressed, the economic costs will remain unbridled. John Adams concluded that to change governments without addressing moral issues is an exercise in futility:

“It is religion and morality alone which can establish the principles upon which freedom can securely stand … if this cannot be inspired into our people in a greater measure than they have it now, they may change their rulers and the forms of government, but they will not obtain a lasting liberty” (June 21, 1776).

When all things are considered, a Biblical World View philosophy is the most logical approach.

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Author: Brian Stone of WallBuilders. Provided by Films for Christ.

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