That being said, it's important to realize that when governement has tried to enforce a certain veiw of morality, the results have been disasterous. Few alive today remember to Prohibition of Alcohol, but that went over really well, didn't it?
A very conservative friend sent me this quote:
"The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are
injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbour to say there are
twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg."
-- Thomas Jefferson (Notes on the State of Virginia, Query 17,1782)
Reference: Jefferson: Writings, Peterson ed., Library of America(285)
My friend then went on to point out the flaws in Jeffersons thinking, using many Bible verses to stress the importance of spreading the Gospel. While his implicaiton that "spreading the Gospel" was everyone's job, no where in the verses he cited does it state, or imply, that it is the job of Governement to do so. In fact, in almost every verse, it was talking about the work of individuals.
On my other blog, another friend of mine pointed out that the only hope for this country is the Good News. And I agree with that. And while he may or may not agree with my following statement, the logical conclusion is this: we can't force the Good News down people's throats by depending on our Governement to enforce the ideas behind that Good News while leaving the presentation thereof to the church. Some want the church to be the mouthpiece while government is the muscle. This is doomed to failure.
Let me use one of my points of view to make the point. I am very much pro-life. My personal conviction is the no human embrio, whether created through sex or in a test tube for stem cell research, should ever be destroyed. That's what I believe. (This particular topic is a moral "gray area for many, and I appreiate that - bear with me.) Now, will my beliefs in this one are affect my decision of who to vote for - some, but not really. Why? because while I would rejoice at Roe v. Wade being over turned, I (a) don't honestly believe it will ever happen in spite of the promises of whatever candidate, and (b)to overturn it would plunge this country into a health crisis of epidemic and possibly irreversable proportions, because if abortions are outlawed, then only outlaws will do abortions.
You can't end abortions through the legislative system, the courts, or the law. The only way abortion is going to end is through education. Now my personal belief is that the only education that can bring about such change is the life-changing message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. However, other non-faith-based programs that promote abstinance-before-marriage, are a good attempt and often open the door to the life-changing message, not just limited to opinion changing.
And the way I start making a change in the morality in my country is to talk, to show my opinions in my actions. People will respond much better to a message that is offered to them, that is shown to them, rather than one that is hammered into them, that smacks them across the face and tells them they are wrong.
I am becoming increaslingly offended at so-called "evangelical Christians" who love to point to the religious beliefs of the founders of this country, while at the same time inoring their writings that make it clear the importance of the separation of church and state (though this is often taken to the extreme - church and state do not mean "government institutions and personal convictions" - but that's another blog post). The gist of the issue, as I understand our founding fathers to mean it, is that the government has no right to tell the church what to believe or how to act, and the church has no right to limit liberty by telling the government how to believe or act.
It's the responsibility of the individual - religious or not - to take a stand, not just in the voting booth, but in their every day life to bring about moral change in this country. If we are going to get past the point where teenagers don't think stealing from girlscouts is wrong, then it's going to have be a grassroots movement, not a political one.
Am I making sense? Here's the bottome line, don't legislate morality, instead we as the people need to make sure everyone has a clear sense of right and wrong and thus make immorality impossible. (A nod to my friend Chris who helped me coin this phrase based on a previous posts.) In the words of Jefferson, it's their job, the job of government, to legislate and enforce general morality - those things that directly injure others like murder, theft, limits of freedom of speech, and abuse - it's the job of people to bring about change in the specifics of morality that they feel needs changing, especially when their personal belief is not shared by others - like abortion, gay marriage, flag burning protests at military funerals, and teenage drinking - if those things are important to them. Or, at the very least, do not impede those who are trying to make said changes when their efforts don't conflict with your own.
In my opinion, the only way to turn this country away from the cliff it's driving towards is the life and teaching of Jeus. I know many of you won't agree with that statement, but that's ok. My point is, I don't need my government legislating Jesus - I need to get up off my but and do my best to spread that message, not in a millitant way, but through my life, my speech, the use of my money, my family, and my church. And you should to, whether you agree with my or not. Life your convictions, don't just vote them.