Monday, January 19, 2009

Law, Morality, Motive, and the Ideal

"You can't legislate morality." I disagree with this in the way it's usually meant, because every law is describing what is right and wrong to do. However, I could use the same sentence in a different way, and fully agree with it. I agree with the idea that "you can't legislate morality" if by that you mean that a person can follow laws and still be immoral.

Laws are often only action-deep. They do not necessarily penetrate to thought-depth. A person can outwardly obey while inwardly rebelling. Obedience can be carried out with the wrong motivation.

While we're on the subject of the law, I think that humanity as a whole will always outpace manmade legislation's ability to guide their actions. The one being pursued has more options than the one pursuing him.

Also, I've noticed that some laws can be atrocious, life-gnawing ogres that strangle productivity. But not all law is like this: God's Law heightens productivity. Why the difference? Maybe because God knows what he's doing, and legislators don't.


api said...

It seems like a nonsensical phrase that is usually used to try to demean any law restricting abortion. Laws also "legislate morality" by making it possible to punish those who break them. If you can punish someone who breaks them then you do in fact produce a second thought in those who would do the "crime." It may not be a complete conscience take over but it is a check on behaviour. We all benefit from checks on harmful behaviour.

Each abortion does effect more than just the child being killed and the mother willing to have the child killed. The legalized practice also influences the consciences of the public by hardening their feelings against the "unwanted" of society. At least with it being illegal there is the public recognition that the practice is not a good thing to be doing.

eve said...

Legislating morality and using the word "ought" stem from the same idea. There is objective truth: truth that is outside every single person. And your actions and my actions can be measured against that objective truth. If it's found wanting, then it ought to change. Of course, as soon as you reject the idea of objective truth, then you think you've escaped the "oughtness." But the idea of law is not manmade. There is a God who objectively legislates morality and knows what you ought to do. Does your worldview and does my worldview prepare us for the day when we will stand before Him?