LESSONS IN LOGIC: You Can Legislate Morality

Contrary to the popular phrase, you actually can legislate morality.  In fact, all legislation is intended to do just that: establish and enforce a moral code.  Give me a few minutes and I will explain why this is true.

The key to understanding why we can legislate morality is found in the meaning of the words.  In this case, let’s start from the end and go backwards:

Definition of morality

1a : a moral discourse, statement, or lesson ended his lecture with a trite morality

b : a literary or other imaginative work teaching a moral lesson “Aesop’s Fables” is famous as a morality.

2a : a doctrine or system of moral conduct the basic law which an adequate morality ought to state— Marjorie Grene

b moralities plural : particular moral principles or rules of conduct we were all brought up on one of these moralities — Psychiatry

3 : conformity to ideals of right human conduct admitted the expediency of the law but questioned its morality

4 : moral conduct : virtue morality today involves a responsible relationship toward the laws of the natural world— P. B. Sears

And next:

Definition of legislate

intransitive verb

: to perform the function of legislation specifically : to make or enact laws

transitive verb

: to mandate, establish, or regulate by or as if by legislation

OK, now that we see what the words mean, let me restate the issue at hand:

You cannot make or enact laws that establish and enforce a system that governs society based on that society’s notion of what is right and wrong in terms of human conduct.

That statement is the functional equivalent of:

You cannot legislate morality.

The difference is, the first, longer statement, is worded in a much more specific manner, thus making the actual intent much clearer to the reader.  Where the second, shorter statement might be accepted by readers who do not bother to stop and think about it, the second statement will only be accepted by the reader who has already made the conscious decision to agree with it.  Why?  Because the first statement is clearly self-contradictory, whereas the second statement is more emotional.  Let me risk sounding like I am being condescending by re-stating this issue again, in another way.

You cannot legislate morality.

This statement is often accepted because it elicits and emotional reaction within the reader.  Inherent in the meaning, but unstated by the actual wording, is the idea that you should not use the law to tell me how I should or should not act.  In other words, although the reader should realize this statement is false, the way it is worded appeals to our selfish, inner nature.  This causes those who do not recognize and adhere to universal laws to accept the false statement as true.

Whereas:

You cannot make or enact laws that establish and enforce a system that governs society based on that society’s notion of what is right and wrong in terms of human conduct.

This statement is worded in such a way as to be obviously false, and thus, to cause the honest reader to reject it.  Why?  Because, when it is worded this way, the reader can immediately see that the statement contradicts the world the reader knows to exist.  Society does — in fact — enact laws that are aimed at establishing conduct within that society according to what the majority of that society considers to be right and wrong in regards to human behavior.  Therefore, when the reader reads this statement, he or she instinctively knows it is false and will reject it.  The only reader who will accept this statement as true is the reader who has made the conscious decision to reject objective reality (which, by the way, is the definition of delusional, which also makes that reader irrational).

The question now is:

Why if both statements mean the same thing, do so many agree with the short version?

This is the real question; the question we should all have been asking this whole time.  The answer is found in the difference I already explained:

The short version appeals to emotion, the longer appeals to logic. 

For those of you who know and understand the Scriptures, let me word that last statement in a different way.  See if this suddenly makes sense on a whole new and different level:

The short version appeals to the flesh, the long version appeals to the spirit.

Now, if you will allow me to do so, I’d like to leave you with a final thought on this subject.  The last statement, the one about flesh and spirit in relation to legislated morality, can also be found in the meaning of the words.  Remember, this started with the notion that ‘You cannot legislate morality.’  Let’s revisit the definition of morality again; or, rather, just a part of that definition:

Definition of morality

4 : moral conduct : virtue morality today involves a responsible relationship toward the laws of the natural world— P. B. Sears

Do you see that morality is connected to Natural Law?  Well, there is a division there that is connected to the flesh, as represented by the thinking of Thomas Hobbs; and the spirit, as represented more by the thinking of John Locke.  What’s more, we have a ‘rel-world’ example of the difference between these two.  It is found in the American vs the French Revolutions.  In the American Revolution, we followed after Locke, who found his principles — per his own words — in the Book of Romans (i.e. Scripture).  Where the French followed after Hobbs, who saw Man as his own god.  The Americans followed the spirit, where the French followed the flesh. 

So, we most certainly can and we do legislate morality.  The question now is, do we legislate our moral code according to The Spirit, or the flesh?  According to YHWH’s Laws, or according to our own fallen desires?

One thought on “LESSONS IN LOGIC: You Can Legislate Morality

  1. Excellent !!! Truth is very clear to one who has the Spirit dwelling within… Robert… by the way an earlier post with the various video links was greatly appreciated… was sent to contacts for enlightenment and reinforcement

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

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