This article was written by Eugene Clingman of the International Church Council Project
I recently spoke with a Christian friend who was adamant that religion and especially Christianity should not be considered when it comes to making laws for society. He believes laws should not have a religious base. I asked him, “Then do you think homosexuality should be legal? He said, “Yes!” I asked, “Do you think incest should be legal?” He said, “Yes!” Consider the implications of what he is saying! He said he doesn’t think there should be laws to prohibit or penalize a father who takes advantage of a young daughter. Incest should be legal, he said, because to prohibit incest would be to advance a religious idea. He is correct in this much – the prohibition of incest is religiously based.
My friend, however, is overlooking something many Christians overlook, and that is this – Every law is religiously based! I will say it again, EVERY law is based on religion. I don’t mean every time a law is framed the authors consult the Baptists, the Mormons, the Hindus, or the Buddhists. Every law is nonetheless religious in its essence and at the foundation. This is true because every law comes out of a worldview (a set of “givens” or presuppositions) which rest on faith assumptions.
We Christians believe the universe was created by God out of nothing, yet not one of us was there to see it! So why do we believe? We believe because God’s Word, the Bible tells us so. We believe by faith! (Hebrews 11:3). We have a faith assumption. But wait a minute! The unbeliever does EXACTLY THE SAME THING! The unbeliever says we got here by chance, by evolution (or whatever other mythical thing he holds as fact). Yet he was not there to see it; he cannot “prove” it any more than we can “prove” God created. So how does he believe it? He believes it by faith! The unbeliever has a faith assumption about origins. Now faith assumptions are religious assumptions; they are held to as a belief, they are held religiously, by faith. Basic assumptions which cannot be proven (like the origin of the universe) are held by faith and are intrinsically religious. Whether it is the believer holding to creation by God, or the unbeliever holding to chance evolution, both are religious beliefs held by faith.
When it comes to law, the unbeliever, believing by faith the universe evolved, assumes it continues to evolve, and that society and everything about it is also evolving, and therefore law is also evolving. To the unbeliever therefore, there is no universal unchanging law. Law, as well as everything else is evolving. He has built his understanding of law on top of his faith assumption about the origin of the universe.
The Christian on the other hand begins with the Unchangeable Triune God who created the universe. This God is not evolving in His concept of morality. His righteousness does not change from generation to generation. The Bible says of Him, “Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and Your law is truth” Psalm 119:142 (see also Psalm 103:17; 119:44; Dan. 9:24). The Christian therefore believes, or at least he ought to believe that God’s standards are those which ought to be used to govern society; law ought to be derived from God – “Your law is truth.” And, “The law of the Lord is perfect…” Psalm 19:7.
Many people (whether in the press, politicians, or misinformed Christians) maintain that religion has no place in law or politics. The truth is this – religion in law and politics is inevitable, unavoidable, and impossible! There cannot be law except it be based on someone’s or some group’s religious-faith assumptions. The issue is not, should religion determine law and politics? But rather what religion? For the U.S. today, it is between humanism and Christianity. In some countries today, it is between Islam and Christianity. Someone’s religious faith assumptions will guide law and policy.
The founders of our nation sought to embody in our government the realities of God’s truth and His law: “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, and are endowed by their Creator…” The separation of powers into three branches of our government was an effort by our founders to limit the opportunity for the sinfulness of man. Our early laws were undeniably founded on biblical principles. For more than a hundred years the religion of humanism has gained dominance in our law and society. Humanism believes evolution is ultimate and man is the ultimate of evolution. For the humanist, therefore, there is no higher source of law or better source of good for society than man’s ideas and efforts.
The Christian worldview says God is ultimate and all people are subordinate to and responsible to Him (Romans 1:18-22; 2:16; Revelation 20:11-12). Law therefore may not righteously be derived from the autonomous (independent) mind of man, but must be derived by seeking to bring ourselves, and all things, indeed, every thought, captive to obedience of Christ! (2 Cor. 10:5).
Because God is, and because He will judge all people and all societies/nations by His own righteous standard, no person, may reasonably or righteously base his life or his society on faith assumptions contrary to the reality of God. Since God will judge our nation by His standard it is unreasonable for Christians to think our nation should be run on humanistic standards and laws. Such thinking is suicidal! It is suicidal to maintain that laws and society should be whatever the majority or the elite group at any particular point in history believes it should be. It is suicidal because God will not judge us or our nation based on those laws and standards, but on His unchanging and universal (for all nations) standard.
Our nation was founded as a Christian nation. Over the last 100 or so years the rock foundation of our nation has been removed; into its place has been poured the shifting sand of humanistic faith assumptions resulting in law and society contrary to God. We of Jesus’ Church, are called to disciple the nations. We Christians are to teach the nations to observe all things whatsoever He has commanded us (Matthew 28:18-20). The Bible tells us the nations are destined to learn and walk in God’s law (Isaiah 2:2-4). Jesus is the King over kings, the Lord over lords, and the President over presidents. Jesus now sits at the right hand of the Father, making His enemies a footstool for His feet (Hebrews 10:12-13). The progress of the Church marches on, for the “zeal of the Lord shall perform it! (Isaiah 9:7). I pray God may use this article to advance His cause in some measure. God bless and enlarge you as He has promised (Psalm 37). And – Don’t be fooled! Every person’s worldview is founded on faith assumptions. Your faith assumptions have just as much right in the public arena as the unbeliever’s, and certainly more so, because God is! (Psalm 46:7, 11). Amen!