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Legislating Religious Morals?

German guy

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While the headline is worded to refer primarily to the Christian religion, I think the question is just as interesting for followers of some other religions. My question:

When you respect a religious rule or commandment, or avoid to disrespect a rule, not because you *want* it, but because you're forced to do so by others (i.e. due to criminalization), is that worth anything, from a religious point of view? Will God not judge your will and your convictions instead, rather than your (unconvinced) mere fear of earthly consequences? After all, forgiveness for a sin requires remorse, or not?

It is my belief that to enjoy God's agreement, you need to genuinely follow the rules from within, because of love for God and conviction. Just following a rule because it will have negative consequences for you doesn't bring you closer to God.

That's why I think legislating religious morals is pointless. It's your deliberate choice for the good that matters. Respecting a religious rule is worthless when you are not given the freedom to break it.

We see extreme cases of legislated morals in some Muslim countries, like Iran or Saudi Arabia. There is a "vice police" strolling the streets fining people who break religious rules, i.e. drinking alcohol or dancing. Sexual behavior is strictly legislated. Does that make any single person a better believer with a better love for God? I doubt it. It just creates the false impression that human fallability and sinfulness is less of a problem than it actually is (behind closed doors), just by pushing it under the rug. It may even give a false sense of righteousness that's counterproductive for salvation.

And then, regarding the Christian religion, there are verses demanding sinners shall not judge other sinners. I take that as a calling that believers should foremost focus on the own soul, rather than meddling into the behavior of others -- leave their sins be a matter between them and God.

So, legislating religious morals is maybe even bad, from a religious point of view.

What do you think? Did I overlook something?
 

Bob Blaylock

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I say that there is great error in associating morality so closely with religion, in rejecting the influence of religion on society, and along with that, deciding that we can also reject morality.

Now it is certainly true that some religious groups end up taking the basic moral principles to rather extreme, exaggerated levels; but I think it is undeniable that there are certain basic moral principles which are universal, and which are vital for an orderly and successful society; regardless of whether you acknowledge or deny the God who created us, and set us up to function in accordance with these principles.


It is my belief that to enjoy God's agreement, you need to genuinely follow the rules from within, because of love for God and conviction. Just following a rule because it will have negative consequences for you doesn't bring you closer to God.
It isn't just about bringing us closer to God. It is also, much more immediately about establishing and maintaining a stable society. God has given us the rules that make this possible. We can either choose to follow and uphold these rules, and enjoy the stable society that results, or to reject them, and to experience the consequences, both as individuals, and as a society, that will result.


That's why I think legislating religious morals is pointless. It's your deliberate choice for the good that matters. Respecting a religious rule is worthless when you are not given the freedom to break it.
You refer, of course, to such “religious rules”, as “Thou shalt not kill.”, and “Thou shalt not steal.”, and “Thou shalt not commit adultery.”, and “Thou shalt not bear false witness.”, and so on. I don't know about you, but regardless of any belief or disbelief in God, I would much rather live in a society where these rules are upheld, than in one that is not. we have more than enough clear examples, in our own society, of contexts in which these rules are not being upheld, and in which serious social ills are occurring as a direct and obvious consequence.
 

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I say that there is great error in associating morality so closely with religion, in rejecting the influence of religion on society, and along with that, deciding that we can also reject morality.

Now it is certainly true that some religious groups end up taking the basic moral principles to rather extreme, exaggerated levels; but I think it is undeniable that there are certain basic moral principles which are universal, and which are vital for an orderly and successful society; regardless of whether you acknowledge or deny the God who created us, and set us up to function in accordance with these principles.




It isn't just about bringing us closer to God. It is also, much more immediately about establishing and maintaining a stable society. God has given us the rules that make this possible. We can either choose to follow and uphold these rules, and enjoy the stable society that results, or to reject them, and to experience the consequences, both as individuals, and as a society, that will result.




You refer, of course, to such “religious rules”, as “Thou shalt not kill.”, and “Thou shalt not steal.”, and “Thou shalt not commit adultery.”, and “Thou shalt not bear false witness.”, and so on. I don't know about you, but regardless of any belief or disbelief in God, I would much rather live in a society where these rules are upheld, than in one that is not. we have more than enough clear examples, in our own society, of contexts in which these rules are not being upheld, and in which serious social ills are occurring as a direct and obvious consequence.
Yes, you are right, and I should have specified that by "religious morals", I mean morals that aim at regulating behavior beyond the basic ethics most people, including atheists, consider important for a stable and just society.

Of course murder, theft and so on should be criminalized. But those are not exclusively religious morals. All ethical systems I am aware of consider these things unethical, and it's even impossible to have a stable society without legislating that, from a merely pragmatic point of view.

What I mean by "religious morals", I mean virtuous behavior that goes beyond these basics which are defined by "your freedom ends where the freedom of others begins". Rules that say how you should live your sex life, for example, that you should be charitable and forgiving, or the general rules along the lines of "don't be a dick". An obvious example would be the legal status of marriage, criminalization or legalization of divorce (a topic in some Catholic countries) or criminalization of certain types of consensual sexual behavior, prostitution, public display of obscenity or blasphemy, and so on.
 
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Bob Blaylock

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Yes, you are right, and I should have specified that by "religious morals", I mean morals that aim at regulating behavior beyond the basic ethics most people, including atheists, consider important for a stable and just society.

Of course murder, theft and so on should be criminalized. But those are not exclusively religious morals. All ethical systems I am aware of consider these things unethical, and it's even impossible to have a stable society without legislating that, from a merely pragmatic point of view.

What I mean by "religious morals", I mean virtuous behavior that goes beyond these basics which are defined by "your freedom ends where the freedom of others begins". Rules that say how you should live your sex life, for example, that you should be charitable and forgiving, or the general rules along the lines of "don't be a dick". An obvious example would be the legal status of marriage, criminalization or legalization of divorce (a topic in some Catholic countries) or criminalization of certain types of consensual sexual behavior, prostitution, public display of obscenity or blasphemy, and so on.
Though it is not politically-correct to acknowledge this truth, the forms of sexual immorality that you would like to classify as “victimless” have at least as much negative effect on individual, and on society as a whole, as those things that you seem to agree we should treat as crimes; even if you don't think the connection is as obvious.
 

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Though it is not politically-correct to acknowledge this truth, the forms of sexual immorality that you would like to classify as “victimless” have at least as much negative effect on individual, and on society as a whole, as those things that you seem to agree we should treat as crimes; even if you don't think the connection is as obvious.
Even if that's the case, which I'm not convinced it always is, that's their decisions to make. What people do with their own bodies is nobody else's business. Legislating religious values is a recipe for disaster. Everybody has a religion and everybody has an opinion about what's moral and what's not. We have to stick to the things that we can all pretty much objectively agree on: Crimes where there's a real victim, like in murder, rape, theft, etc.
 

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a) When you respect a religious rule or commandment, or avoid to disrespect a rule, not because you *want* it, but because you're forced to do so by others (i.e. due to criminalization), is that worth anything, from a religious point of view?

b) Will God not judge your will and your convictions instead, rather than your (unconvinced) mere fear of earthly consequences?
a) I think the majority fears "God" but in fact mean their peer influence. I think the majority does not genuinely believes religion, though may have an intuitive feeling about God.

b) There are various psychometric tests that measure one's will and fear. This human development has been available for a while and is used in various industries. Why should God have human facets and use tests of such a kind for measurement? What if God does not measures at all?
 

lizzie

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When you respect a religious rule or commandment, or avoid to disrespect a rule, not because you *want* it, but because you're forced to do so by others (i.e. due to criminalization), is that worth anything, from a religious point of view? Will God not judge your will and your convictions instead, rather than your (unconvinced) mere fear of earthly consequences? After all, forgiveness for a sin requires remorse, or not?
From a religious point of view, no. That being said, certain religious moral codes need to also be subject to legislation, because they cause undue objective harm to others (murder, theft, etc). You are right in that refraining from an action solely based on fear of authority is not true morality, but the process of learning to cede certain actions as inappropriate, or wrong, is sometimes necessary, if we are to behave in a moral manner, and as we age, and can see the effects that our actions can have on others, I think we adopt them as true moral practices.
 

tacomancer

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I tend to take the stance of simplicity. We should have as few rules as possible required for a society that can function and not break down into crime and evil.

Many religions share similar core laws and other insights into human behavior and morality tend to come up with similar rules, so start there, no murder, stealing, etc.

The next step is balancing human nature (which is often naturally destructive as often as it is creative) against itself through laws. Humans often suck at using too much freedom in a healthy and non harmful manner.

Then lastly look at cultural desires of a society at large, for example Muslim societies will function vest under a Muslim paradigm. But only if that culture is overwhelmingly Muslim.

That's where we should consider religious laws.
 

RGacky3

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Though it is not politically-correct to acknowledge this truth, the forms of sexual immorality that you would like to classify as “victimless” have at least as much negative effect on individual, and on society as a whole, as those things that you seem to agree we should treat as crimes; even if you don't think the connection is as obvious.
Don't give me this "politically correct,"

I love how you go so quick to classify individual sexual acts to not "vitcimless" because they may or may not have negative effects on society (the effects on society are generally relatively very tiny), and if they have negative effects on the individual he's not a victim anymore than someone that gets drunk and then gets a hangover is a victim, yet will go far out of their way to NOT CALL social victims of individual economic actions involving property as not victims.

If adultary should be considered a crime because it tears apart families, then so should laying off people who don't have noather job option, then so should for profit healthcare, then so should "usery," then so should poverty wages, then so should offshoring, then so should privitization, then so should cutting social security....

You're blatent hypocracy is discusing, you sound JUST LIKE the Jewish religious leaders that Jesus condemned.
 

German guy

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Don't give me this "politically correct,"

I love how you go so quick to classify individual sexual acts to not "vitcimless" because they may or may not have negative effects on society (the effects on society are generally relatively very tiny), and if they have negative effects on the individual he's not a victim anymore than someone that gets drunk and then gets a hangover is a victim, yet will go far out of their way to NOT CALL social victims of individual economic actions involving property as not victims.

If adultary should be considered a crime because it tears apart families, then so should laying off people who don't have noather job option, then so should for profit healthcare, then so should "usery," then so should poverty wages, then so should offshoring, then so should privitization, then so should cutting social security....

You're blatent hypocracy is discusing, you sound JUST LIKE the Jewish religious leaders that Jesus condemned.
I think you bring up a good point, insofar as I think the demand in favor of charity and modesty in material matters is just as prominent in the NT as are sexual morals. So social policies could be considered "legislating religious morals" too (although, of course, there are non-religious reasons and rationales for that too).

In fact, there are some political parties/movements which justify their support of certain social policies with Christian values. The Christian Democrats in some European countries (Germany, Netherlands, Italy, and some more) jump to mind ... the German Christian Dems are the strongest center-right party in Germany and support many social programs. In the first years after 1945, they even demanded "Christian Socialism" until the advocates of market economy took over, and they still have a strong worker wing.
 

RGacky3

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I think you bring up a good point, insofar as I think the demand in favor of charity and modesty in material matters is just as prominent in the NT as are sexual morals. So social policies could be considered "legislating religious morals" too (although, of course, there are non-religious reasons and rationales for that too).

In fact, there are some political parties/movements which justify their support of certain social policies with Christian values. The Christian Democrats in some European countries (Germany, Netherlands, Italy, and some more) jump to mind ... the German Christian Dems are the strongest center-right party in Germany and support many social programs. In the first years after 1945, they even demanded "Christian Socialism" until the advocates of market economy took over, and they still have a strong worker wing.
Yeah in europe you have a strong christian socialist movement, infact the christian socialist movement was stronger than the marxian socialism for mcuh of history in much of europe and the US.
 

EdwinWillers

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While the headline is worded to refer primarily to the Christian religion, I think the question is just as interesting for followers of some other religions. My question:

When you respect a religious rule or commandment, or avoid to disrespect a rule, not because you *want* it, but because you're forced to do so by others (i.e. due to criminalization), is that worth anything, from a religious point of view? Will God not judge your will and your convictions instead, rather than your (unconvinced) mere fear of earthly consequences? After all, forgiveness for a sin requires remorse, or not?

It is my belief that to enjoy God's agreement, you need to genuinely follow the rules from within, because of love for God and conviction. Just following a rule because it will have negative consequences for you doesn't bring you closer to God.

That's why I think legislating religious morals is pointless. It's your deliberate choice for the good that matters. Respecting a religious rule is worthless when you are not given the freedom to break it.

We see extreme cases of legislated morals in some Muslim countries, like Iran or Saudi Arabia. There is a "vice police" strolling the streets fining people who break religious rules, i.e. drinking alcohol or dancing. Sexual behavior is strictly legislated. Does that make any single person a better believer with a better love for God? I doubt it. It just creates the false impression that human fallability and sinfulness is less of a problem than it actually is (behind closed doors), just by pushing it under the rug. It may even give a false sense of righteousness that's counterproductive for salvation.

And then, regarding the Christian religion, there are verses demanding sinners shall not judge other sinners. I take that as a calling that believers should foremost focus on the own soul, rather than meddling into the behavior of others -- leave their sins be a matter between them and God.

So, legislating religious morals is maybe even bad, from a religious point of view.

What do you think? Did I overlook something?
I have long believed in the vanity of attempting to legislate morals - and that for a variety of reasons both pragmatic and scriptural.

Pragmatic, because it's simply not possible to effectively legislate them anyway. We prohibited alcohol which in the ensuing years begat organized crime, something we have with us to this day, nearly a century after repealing that ill-conceived law.

I'm reading Martin Luther's collection of sermons now (9 volumes, just finished #1 :)) and it strikes me how often he repeats the simple gospel message, and that as he contrasts it against the Catholic message of works (Luther wasn't exactly a fan of Catholicism). I contend (generally) that legislating our morals on others is not only an effort in legalism, but one that actually contradicts the gospel message.

Does that mean we shouldn't attempt to influence those around us to behave as we behave (assuming our behavior is worthy of copying)? No. But we must never forget that the reason we behave as we do is because He changed us and continues to change us, to mold us into His will. We didn't, and don't merit His grace. We can't merit His grace. And if He was gracious to us, we need to learn how to pass on His grace to others.

Enacting laws that define behavior we ourselves have yet to perfect, laws that force such behavior on others under threat of punishment, that employ force at all is wholly contrary to the grace we received and in which we stand... by faith, and only by faith.
 

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< Snip >
So, legislating religious morals is maybe even bad, from a religious point of view.

What do you think? Did I overlook something?
Along the lines of what I said before, I think it's not only bad, but bad particularly from a spiritual point of view. From the Christian standpoint, it is the height of phariseeism, of legalism.

Consider what happens when the simple act of giving moves out of the realm of the voluntary and into the realm of mandatory. It goes from something being done willingly to something that requires force to extract. In other words, a "fundamental transformation" occurs wherein it is forced into becoming something it isn't. Charity becomes taxation. Relationship becomes... religion.
 

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I have long believed in the vanity of attempting to legislate morals - and that for a variety of reasons both pragmatic and scriptural.

Pragmatic, because it's simply not possible to effectively legislate them anyway. We prohibited alcohol which in the ensuing years begat organized crime, something we have with us to this day, nearly a century after repealing that ill-conceived law.

I'm reading Martin Luther's collection of sermons now (9 volumes, just finished #1 :)) and it strikes me how often he repeats the simple gospel message, and that as he contrasts it against the Catholic message of works (Luther wasn't exactly a fan of Catholicism). I contend (generally) that legislating our morals on others is not only an effort in legalism, but one that actually contradicts the gospel message.

Does that mean we shouldn't attempt to influence those around us to behave as we behave (assuming our behavior is worthy of copying)? No. But we must never forget that the reason we behave as we do is because He changed us and continues to change us, to mold us into His will. We didn't, and don't merit His grace. We can't merit His grace. And if He was gracious to us, we need to learn how to pass on His grace to others.

Enacting laws that define behavior we ourselves have yet to perfect, laws that force such behavior on others under threat of punishment, that employ force at all is wholly contrary to the grace we received and in which we stand... by faith, and only by faith.
Then what laws should we enact? Aren't laws generally related to morality and doesn't most of our morality come from some religion or philosophy?
 

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Then what laws should we enact? Aren't laws generally related to morality and doesn't most of our morality come from some religion or philosophy?


Law should act to punish the willful or negligent harming of another.

Any other use of law (force) is dubious and must be carefully considered.


There may arguably be social value in certain moral standards... but the spiritual value of morality only exists when it is chosen, not coerced. :shrug:
 

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Sums it up nicely, thanks.

Law should act to punish the willful or negligent harming of another.

Any other use of law (force) is dubious and must be carefully considered.


There may arguably be social value in certain moral standards... but the spiritual value of morality only exists when it is chosen, not coerced. :shrug:
 

EdwinWillers

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Then what laws should we enact? Aren't laws generally related to morality and doesn't most of our morality come from some religion or philosophy?
Law should act to punish the willful or negligent harming of another.

Any other use of law (force) is dubious and must be carefully considered.

There may arguably be social value in certain moral standards... but the spiritual value of morality only exists when it is chosen, not coerced. :shrug:
I couldn't say it any more succinctly, though I might add that the scope of a law, those upon whom a law is binding, which defines who may enforce the [particular] law is an important consideration too. Not just any entity may enact any law and make it binding on any (or all) people.
 

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I couldn't say it any more succinctly, though I might add that the scope of a law, those upon whom a law is binding, which defines who may enforce the [particular] law is an important consideration too. Not just any entity may enact any law and make it binding on any (or all) people.

For the most part, there is a certain degree of consent assumed on the part of the governed, to be governed. In most times in history, the ruling class and its immediate enforcers were less than 2% of the population, and in most situations it is hard for the <2% to impose their will on the >98% without some degree of consent.

That's the theory, anyway. In reality, that 'consent' is more often like forbearance, or tolerance, as in "we're used to this and it sorta works and we're busy living our lives so we'll put up with it... as long as there is bread and circuses." That's closer to reality IMHO.

Democratic (more or less) representative government codifies this into the system, giving the ruling class the imprimatur of having the support of a supposed majority.

Of course that is theory again... in reality those elected are often those who had the most money for slick marketing strategies, and they often screw over their constituency or break campaign promises... and they do it so much we've long been at the point of saying, wearily, "well they all do it, it sucks but things seem to work more or less, and we're busy living life, so we'll put up with it... for now."

:mrgreen: :doh


IMHO though, since law and legislation are raw naked force covered with the velvet glove of democracy, law ought to be used sparingly... and any law that lacks the support of AT LEAST a majority probably should not be something punishable by the coercive force which is government. If 51% of people don't think something should be law, that's a good sign that whether they are right or wrong that law is NOT going to be effective... indeed, even 20% or 10% of the populace can pretty much destroy the government's ability to enforce an unpopular law, at least unless the gov is willing to resort to extremes.

Part of our problem is we have thousands of unpopular and unenforceable laws, which weaken the whole of the law.

It may have been Bastiat or Webster, or some other known figure, but the saying "The law should be simple enough to be understood by the common man" is an adage I think we have strayed WAY too far from.



Then there is the question... can/should government ENCOURAGE virtue, while at the same time NOT criminalizing its lack? In other words, rewarding behaviors known to be (and widely accepted as) socially positive, ethical/moral actions that tend to strengthen society and trend more towards justice, INSTEAD of focusing on punishing vice? It would make for an interesting discussion I think... one could view certain tax benefits and etc of marriage as being an encouragement of a societally-virtuous institution...
 

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We need to strengthen our society, not be increasingly dependent on the law. Perhaps in our eagerness to be fair and "accepting," we are becoming too weak to draw a behavioral line anywhere. Becoming stronger begins in the home and the schools and the community, not at the courthouse or on the legislative floor.
 

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For the most part, there is a certain degree of consent assumed on the part of the governed, to be governed. In most times in history, the ruling class and its immediate enforcers were less than 2% of the population, and in most situations it is hard for the <2% to impose their will on the >98% without some degree of consent.

That's the theory, anyway. In reality, that 'consent' is more often like forbearance, or tolerance, as in "we're used to this and it sorta works and we're busy living our lives so we'll put up with it... as long as there is bread and circuses." That's closer to reality IMHO.

Democratic (more or less) representative government codifies this into the system, giving the ruling class the imprimatur of having the support of a supposed majority.

Of course that is theory again... in reality those elected are often those who had the most money for slick marketing strategies, and they often screw over their constituency or break campaign promises... and they do it so much we've long been at the point of saying, wearily, "well they all do it, it sucks but things seem to work more or less, and we're busy living life, so we'll put up with it... for now."

:mrgreen: :doh
LOL - sad, but I think accurate.


IMHO though, since law and legislation are raw naked force covered with the velvet glove of democracy, law ought to be used sparingly... and any law that lacks the support of AT LEAST a majority probably should not be something punishable by the coercive force which is government. If 51% of people don't think something should be law, that's a good sign that whether they are right or wrong that law is NOT going to be effective... indeed, even 20% or 10% of the populace can pretty much destroy the government's ability to enforce an unpopular law, at least unless the gov is willing to resort to extremes.

Part of our problem is we have thousands of unpopular and unenforceable laws, which weaken the whole of the law.

It may have been Bastiat or Webster, or some other known figure, but the saying "The law should be simple enough to be understood by the common man" is an adage I think we have strayed WAY too far from.
IMHO the "scope" of [a particular] law needs to apply to more than a simple majority - if only for the simple reason that the use of force on 49% of the population because 51% of the population has some sort of "majority mandate" to do whatever they please by virtue of their majority status - such a criteria imho grossly diminishes the value of freedom and liberty while heightening the value of force and coercion. No, I think the scope of law needs to apply to a differently defined "majority" - i.e. the consensus of all reasonable and rational people to whom that particular law would apply. In other words, if everyone not agree that a law be enacted, then either 1) the scope of the law is too broad (encompasses too many people), or 2) the law is inherently bad on its face.

A simple example: an HOA is probably the lowest level of "government" we have. Homeowners agree to abide by a rule ("law") to keep their lawns mowed and watered - or else a fine will be levied, etc. What is a valid majority to give sanction for such a law? I don't know - whatever they can achieve. But consider - would it be appropriate for that HOA to enforce that law in another neighborhood? No. The "scope" of that law is strictly for the members of that HOA. Now - logical extreme - would it be appropriate for the federal government to enforce such a law nationwide? Certainly not. There is no possible way we can get the consensus of all reasonable and rational people in this nation to give such power to the federal government. Ergo, the federal government is too broad an entity for a 'lawn law' to exist in its purview, let alone that they should be given the power to enforce one.

HOA (e.g.) - City - County - State - Federal. Our Constitution gives to the States all powers not expressly enumerated to the federal government. Federal powers are strictly limited to those which legitimately encompass everyone. Because of this, they are necessarily limited - and *must* be necessarily limited for if the federal government presumes at any time to have powers based on a simple majority, where the wishes and interests of the 49% are ignored and force is thereby rationalized - then that government has given up its legitimate right to exist, having become little more than a despotic entity in the guise of a democracy.

Then there is the question... can/should government ENCOURAGE virtue, while at the same time NOT criminalizing its lack? In other words, rewarding behaviors known to be (and widely accepted as) socially positive, ethical/moral actions that tend to strengthen society and trend more towards justice, INSTEAD of focusing on punishing vice? It would make for an interesting discussion I think... one could view certain tax benefits and etc of marriage as being an encouragement of a societally-virtuous institution...
An interesting discussion indeed - however... the premise of such a discussion lie necessarily upon the notion that government is the progenitor of virtue - otherwise, how could it possible "encourage" it? I think on it's face that is something I would oppose out of hand.
 

tacomancer

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While the headline is worded to refer primarily to the Christian religion, I think the question is just as interesting for followers of some other religions. My question:

When you respect a religious rule or commandment, or avoid to disrespect a rule, not because you *want* it, but because you're forced to do so by others (i.e. due to criminalization), is that worth anything, from a religious point of view? Will God not judge your will and your convictions instead, rather than your (unconvinced) mere fear of earthly consequences? After all, forgiveness for a sin requires remorse, or not?

It is my belief that to enjoy God's agreement, you need to genuinely follow the rules from within, because of love for God and conviction. Just following a rule because it will have negative consequences for you doesn't bring you closer to God.

That's why I think legislating religious morals is pointless. It's your deliberate choice for the good that matters. Respecting a religious rule is worthless when you are not given the freedom to break it.

We see extreme cases of legislated morals in some Muslim countries, like Iran or Saudi Arabia. There is a "vice police" strolling the streets fining people who break religious rules, i.e. drinking alcohol or dancing. Sexual behavior is strictly legislated. Does that make any single person a better believer with a better love for God? I doubt it. It just creates the false impression that human fallability and sinfulness is less of a problem than it actually is (behind closed doors), just by pushing it under the rug. It may even give a false sense of righteousness that's counterproductive for salvation.

And then, regarding the Christian religion, there are verses demanding sinners shall not judge other sinners. I take that as a calling that believers should foremost focus on the own soul, rather than meddling into the behavior of others -- leave their sins be a matter between them and God.

So, legislating religious morals is maybe even bad, from a religious point of view.

What do you think? Did I overlook something?
I am inclined to agree. I try to do the best I can, but we are all flawed. Take those flaws in stride and strive to be better, but be realistic.

To be honest, like many in the nt, I make the most progress in my failures because that's when god can teach me. And believe me, my failures can be pretty spectacular. Heck, I am currently drunk for example. ( bad day and too much stress)

My goal is to always do better, be better, but I find that god is always smarter and more cleaver than my schemes and boy can I scheme...., I always end up learning a lesson even when I want my will more than anything.

Because of this, I never feel it is my place to dictate to others. If nothing else, even with all my talent, I am finite and always lacking wisdom.

So, I let politics be politics in this realm, I am no better than others, or worse, so no interest in imposing my morals on others, especially since, my morals are constantly being refined by some new insight on how love works or some other topic.

I honestly think those who seek to impose morality on others, especially religious have ego issues and I have yet to be shown wrong through my observations.

We are all human and fundamentally equal in our say. Live and let live.

In the end all socioreligious impulses are because some dude is emotionally comfortable with a culture and its never a logical motivation. Its really, ultimately no more religiously motivated than any other political argument here, which *always* boils down to emotional preference and comfort zone. Except for rare individuals who can be truly unemotional.

People with excessive religiosity ( as opposed to spirituality) are no different. Its why religion based societies tend to be hell holes of prejudice and bad decisions and why a society based on reason tends to be more successful.
 
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Goshin

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LOL - sad, but I think accurate.


IMHO the "scope" of [a particular] law needs to apply to more than a simple majority - if only for the simple reason that the use of force on 49% of the population because 51% of the population has some sort of "majority mandate" to do whatever they please by virtue of their majority status - such a criteria imho grossly diminishes the value of freedom and liberty while heightening the value of force and coercion. No, I think the scope of law needs to apply to a differently defined "majority" - i.e. the consensus of all reasonable and rational people to whom that particular law would apply. In other words, if everyone not agree that a law be enacted, then either 1) the scope of the law is too broad (encompasses too many people), or 2) the law is inherently bad on its face.

A simple example: an HOA is probably the lowest level of "government" we have. Homeowners agree to abide by a rule ("law") to keep their lawns mowed and watered - or else a fine will be levied, etc. What is a valid majority to give sanction for such a law? I don't know - whatever they can achieve. But consider - would it be appropriate for that HOA to enforce that law in another neighborhood? No. The "scope" of that law is strictly for the members of that HOA. Now - logical extreme - would it be appropriate for the federal government to enforce such a law nationwide? Certainly not. There is no possible way we can get the consensus of all reasonable and rational people in this nation to give such power to the federal government. Ergo, the federal government is too broad an entity for a 'lawn law' to exist in its purview, let alone that they should be given the power to enforce one.

HOA (e.g.) - City - County - State - Federal. Our Constitution gives to the States all powers not expressly enumerated to the federal government. Federal powers are strictly limited to those which legitimately encompass everyone. Because of this, they are necessarily limited - and *must* be necessarily limited for if the federal government presumes at any time to have powers based on a simple majority, where the wishes and interests of the 49% are ignored and force is thereby rationalized - then that government has given up its legitimate right to exist, having become little more than a despotic entity in the guise of a democracy.

An interesting discussion indeed - however... the premise of such a discussion lie necessarily upon the notion that government is the progenitor of virtue - otherwise, how could it possible "encourage" it? I think on it's face that is something I would oppose out of hand.


Marvelous, marvelous post... bravo! :applaud


I agree strongly with your comments on the scope of laws. I don't think I've ever heard it put quite so clearly and succinctly before, that the scope of a jurisdiction ought to limit the intrusiveness of that jurisdictions powers to only that which is absolutely necessary at its level.

I agree that local and regional government is better at dealing with specifics and details, than an overarching government whose jurisdiction is hundreds of millions of people who live in widely separated places with differing cultures. It is a powerful argument for local gov and regionalism.



Now.... what level of support should there be for something to be made into law (enforced by coercion and threat)? At any level or a specific one as you wish... 60%? 75%? 90%? 99%? 100%? Of those upon whom the law will be enforced that is. Should someone be allowed to 'opt out' without moving out of the territory?
 

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Marvelous, marvelous post... bravo! :applaud

I agree strongly with your comments on the scope of laws. I don't think I've ever heard it put quite so clearly and succinctly before, that the scope of a jurisdiction ought to limit the intrusiveness of that jurisdictions powers to only that which is absolutely necessary at its level.
Thanks Goshin. I've given it a lot of thought. It's not an easy thing to articulate, particularly in this day and age - but it's something I believe is innately understood by people who understand the value of, and who value it themselves - liberty and freedom.

I agree that local and regional government is better at dealing with specifics and details, than an overarching government whose jurisdiction is hundreds of millions of people who live in widely separated places with differing cultures. It is a powerful argument for local gov and regionalism.
Yes. Yet while local and regional governments are closer to the issues at hand, it's more than the concept of which level will deal with those issues better. It's the concept of maximizing freedom and liberty while minimizing the use of force and coercion.

Now.... what level of support should there be for something to be made into law (enforced by coercion and threat)? At any level or a specific one as you wish... 60%? 75%? 90%? 99%? 100%? Of those upon whom the law will be enforced that is. Should someone be allowed to 'opt out' without moving out of the territory?
Well, here's the crux of the matter certainly. I don't know. But you bring up a concept which is now my turn to :applaud - the notion of "opting out" or perhaps as we know it better today - exemptions.

I think that when a law is attended with exemptions for some, that law is by definition an illegitimate law - a law which is beyond the legitimate purview of the enacting level of government, for by definition it acknowledges it does not/should not apply to some. A perfect example of such an illegitimate law is when those exempted from it are the very ones who enacted it (consider the gargantuan, blatant injustice of that!).

So you recognize something I've been struggling to articulate for a long time - what level/percentage? Whatever the number be (if a number even be definable), I think we can safely say it be one that permit no exemptions, where the reasonable and rational may not 'opt out'.

I've long struggled with the reality of contrarians among us - people who, for whatever reason, are simply contrary, who will say "no" regardless the issue. That ultimately led me to the "reasonable and rational" definition of a majority - a way to ignore the contrarians and deal with the largest possible subset of a population that exist after the contrarians. Of course no concept is perfect, special considerations need to be made for the select few among the whole who are mentally infirm, etc. whose mental or possibly physical condition render them justly exempt - but I'm talking about the "you's" and "I's" who comprise the bulk of any body of individuals.

Thoughts?
 

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Some excellent posts here. Several have conveyed my thoughts far, far better than I can.
 

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Thanks Goshin. I've given it a lot of thought. It's not an easy thing to articulate, particularly in this day and age - but it's something I believe is innately understood by people who understand the value of, and who value it themselves - liberty and freedom.

Yes. Yet while local and regional governments are closer to the issues at hand, it's more than the concept of which level will deal with those issues better. It's the concept of maximizing freedom and liberty while minimizing the use of force and coercion.

Well, here's the crux of the matter certainly. I don't know. But you bring up a concept which is now my turn to :applaud - the notion of "opting out" or perhaps as we know it better today - exemptions.

I think that when a law is attended with exemptions for some, that law is by definition an illegitimate law - a law which is beyond the legitimate purview of the enacting level of government, for by definition it acknowledges it does not/should not apply to some. A perfect example of such an illegitimate law is when those exempted from it are the very ones who enacted it (consider the gargantuan, blatant injustice of that!).

So you recognize something I've been struggling to articulate for a long time - what level/percentage? Whatever the number be (if a number even be definable), I think we can safely say it be one that permit no exemptions, where the reasonable and rational may not 'opt out'.

I've long struggled with the reality of contrarians among us - people who, for whatever reason, are simply contrary, who will say "no" regardless the issue. That ultimately led me to the "reasonable and rational" definition of a majority - a way to ignore the contrarians and deal with the largest possible subset of a population that exist after the contrarians. Of course no concept is perfect, special considerations need to be made for the select few among the whole who are mentally infirm, etc. whose mental or possibly physical condition render them justly exempt - but I'm talking about the "you's" and "I's" who comprise the bulk of any body of individuals.

Thoughts?

I read an interesting bit of Libertarian science fiction a couple years ago, by L Neil Smith. It included a colony on an asteroid (small population) that was a "hyperdemocracy"... that is, "one person, one veto". It delved into the free rider problem a little but admitted that there may be no good solution to same.

Now, as you rightly point out, I don't see hyperdemocracy working at anything above the tribal level... maybe 50-100 people tops... due to the "contrarian" problem. SOMEBODY will vote "Nay" to "destroying the killer meteor about to smash the planet" just out of sheer cuss-headedness... and no society can function like that at much more than anarchy level. (Which, as we've seen, also doesn't work above the tribal-size or community level).

So the top end has to take into account filtering out the contrarians and sheer idiots, and would have to be well below 100%.

IIRC the original Articles of Confederation required a 2/3rds majority to do pretty much anything, and it turned out to be extremely difficult to get anything at all done that way. To override a Presidential veto requires a 2/3'rds majority of both House and Senate, and is a very rare event. Amendments to the Constitution also require large supermajority (can't recall offhand whether 2/3 or 3/4) and throughout much of our history Amendments have rarely been passed.

So the question becomes how to structure a system which is flexible enough to get the necessary done, but restrictive enough to prevent too much personally intrusive legislation from being passed without a large supermajority support.... tricky.

If we did things the way of of old-time Federalism (ie restricting the scope of the Fedgov to Article 8 and leaving the rest (including almost all criminal legislation) to the States or local gov's), that would be a good start. Possibly prioritizing certain specific forms of legislation, and saying XYZ emergency measures can be temporarily enacted via simple majority; ABC routine legislation by 60% majority; but any legislation that could be considered to infringe on any citizen's natural rights, or which could be used to put any citizen in prison for more than 3 days or confiscate his property would require a 75% majority to pass. Something like that maybe... details would have to be hammered out. Any "exemptions" to a law would require special conditions like 90% majority and those who would be exempted don't get to vote. :)


While we're fantasizing about what we'd do if we got to re-engineer society (LOL), I'd like to change the Presidency (and perhaps Governorship) dramatically as well. Instead of the President alone wielding executive power, I think if that executive power is going to remain so potent it needs to be spread out a little more. Say we instead elect a Prez (who mostly does the day-to-day and CIC stuff), a First Citizen elected from among the State governors(who does most of the ceremonial and PR stuff), and the Senate elects a Prime Minister from the House... and the Presidium cannot issue ANY executive order without all three signatures on the paper! Or maybe two out of three for emergency measures like repelling an invasion or sending aid to a hurricane zone or something. Just an idea that I've had for a while.


Not sure what the answer to the free rider problem is though, other than "pay your own way" as much as possible. Still, though, I think it is in society's interest to have some kind of social safety net; we don't want to get Dickensian with the poor and those trampled by the uncaring elephantine movements of big business.
 
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