Take the 2-minute tour ×
Christianity Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for committed Christians, experts in Christianity and those interested in learning more. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Obviously a lot of Christians want to have biblically based laws in the society, in effect requiring everybody to follow biblical morals. But the opposite is also a popular view among Christians: as non-believers are not saved either way, we shouldn't make it our problem whether they sin little or much.

Which is it, and why?

share|improve this question
    
Possible duplicate: What is the basis for Theonomy?. –  Jas 3.1 Jul 6 '12 at 2:45
    
"a lot of Christians"? Well, I don't. Since I disagree with a number of "biblical morals". Even evangelicals disagree with some of them. :P –  Jürgen A. Erhard Jul 16 '12 at 11:58
    
@JürgenA.Erhard - I'd be interested to see that elaborated .. but not sure how to ask that question herein :) –  warren Nov 7 '12 at 16:35
add comment

14 Answers

In early America, it's said that the laws were completely based off of scripture. Harvard was originally a Christian founded school until it was taken over by atheists.

Biblical law has one common foundation.

Matthew 22:37-40 (NKJV)

37 Jesus said to him, “ ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

That foundation is love. It would make perfect sense to have biblical laws apply to non-Christians. As the biblical law states that love is the foundation and love does no harm to your neighbor.

The problem is that people reject God, thus rejecting His laws. I expect to see more and more laws contradicting the bible as time goes on and as our country drifts farther and farther from the Truth.

share|improve this answer
    
please post your reasons for down voting. –  Jonathon Byrd Aug 30 '11 at 22:32
4  
"early America"? "it's said"? By whom? And how much of this is wishful thinking? A bit of googling brought up this. Counter-arguments welcome, of course (even though this ain't a discussion site...) –  Jürgen A. Erhard Aug 30 '11 at 22:51
    
Adding to what @JürgenA.Erhard says, besides this answer being nonsense, it's also irrelevant. Laws in "early America" were not completely based on scripture, but if they were, so what? –  TRiG Jul 13 '12 at 21:42
add comment

It's unclear to me whether you're asking for an answer that relates to political or governmental policy, or how we ought to behave as individual Christians. But to address the latter, 1 Corinthians 5:12-13 I believe is relevant:

12 What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? 13 God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you.”

In other words, regardless of whether Biblical laws would be helpful for non-Christians, as Christians it's not our place to pass judgment; we ought to leave that for God.

share|improve this answer
    
It makes sense to (by default) have one set of principles and decide both political and individual affairs on the same basis. As this isn't the whole truth, you can elaborate on why the answer could be different for politics and individual relations. –  dancek Aug 30 '11 at 21:20
add comment

Very big question. Reams of paper and a lot of ink has been spilt over this issue.

My view, and I haven't read a lot of the content on the subject is that we should not expect non-christians to live under Christian laws since they simply do not believe these laws are valid. By doing this we are sending them a wrong message, that is that to be a Christian you need to obey a set of rules.

This goes against the gospel message of grace in that you can come to Jesus no matter what you've done or what kind of person you are - no matter how bad you are. What you've done doesn't matter...

The idea that the whole world should live under God's law is known as Reconstructionism.

Don't know if the opposite of that has a label.

share|improve this answer
    
Yeah, it's called Deconstructionism (or it is now ;). –  Arlen Beiler Jun 16 '12 at 18:01
add comment

It very well is our problem. As children of God, it is a responsibility to continue to spread the faith and encourage others—in this case, the non-believers—to do the same, as in Matthew 28:16-20 (specifically verses 19-20):

19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Former non-believers always have a chance to become children of God—and such would grant them salvation. However, to adhere to a biblical lifestyle would be meaningless, because there will always be those against God or already committed to another faith.

To advocate biblical morals in a society divided so largely by differing religious opinions would discourage any chance of welcoming new children of God, because those not currently accepting of God's word would be pushed even further.

share|improve this answer
add comment

The question: Should Christians desire Biblically-based laws that require everyone to follow Biblical morals?

One place in Scripture from which we can take a cue (and I say "a cue," and not "explicit instruction" for reasons that will be come clear) is Paul's epistle to the Corinthian church. In the 5th chapter of this letter, Paul instructs the church in how to deal with cases of unbiblical morals within the church. Paul instructs members of the church:

  1. Do not associate with the one who claims to be a brother or a sister (i.e. a member of the church) but continues to practice unbiblical morals. (v. 11)

At the same time, he is clear to point out:

  1. The above instruction does not apply to everyone; only to members of the church. (v. 9-10)

It is clear from these two injunctions that the members of the church -- or more accurately, those who claim to be members of the church -- are to be held to a different standard than the world in general. They are to be held to a different standard by the church (we can infer this from the fact that Paul's instructions are addressed to the church). But

  1. Those who do not live according to Biblical morals are not to be held to a different standard by God. (Cf. v. 12: "What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside.")

This passage explicitly instructs us, as Christians, how we ought to act towards professed members of the church, and towards those outside of the church, who are not living according to Biblical morals. It does not instruct explicitly on the topic of what laws governing general society we ought to desire, or attempt to bring into effect -- but perhaps we can take a cue from the general principles concerning different treatment for those within and outside of the church. Extrapolating from Paul's instructions in 1 Cor 5, we could use the principle "do not judge those outside the church" as a solid basis for advocating laws which do not legislate uniquely Christian morals, even if we passionately believe that everyone should live by those morals.

share|improve this answer
    
In response to your closing comment, there is the concept of "moral law" ("Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts" -Romans 2). As far as uniquely Christian morals, unless you include Judaism in that, I don't know that we have any. What is unique about Christianity is not its morals, but the power and grace of God to obey the moral laws and everything else. –  Arlen Beiler Jun 16 '12 at 17:59
add comment

Do I get a say in this, as a "heathen"?

If so, the answer is "no". If only because there is no such thing as actually enforced "biblical laws" anywhere, not even amongst Christians, unless you want to pick some passages of the bible and ignore others - and there is no consensus on which passages to pick.

Saying "[the] foundation is love" does not make actual law enforcement any clearer.

share|improve this answer
2  
While I fully agree with what you say (Why should I be asked to obay the weird instructions of someone else's imaginary friend?), I don't think this answer is particulary helpful as given. –  TRiG Sep 1 '11 at 20:56
add comment

Strictly speaking, I believe the answer should be no, for reasons as cited already by other responders who have mentioned 1 Corinthians 5:11,12.

I had this discussion recently with somebody where in practical purposes it centered around the issue of gay marriage, and whether it should be legal or not. In my discussion, my perspective was that although the Bible clearly speaks against homosexual relations, I think that whether gay marriage should be legal or not is not so black/white as most Christians think it is. The primary issue to me is the point of your original question: whether biblically we should seek to enact laws that enforce biblical standards.

The problem with saying "Yes, we should" is that then we must ask, but why? And one of the immediate objections I can see is that you cannot legislate morality.

The Bible is clear that the law does not produce righteousness, only the awareness of sin. It is the work of the Holy Spirit in transforming a person's inner man that produces actual righteousness.

Further, an argument could be made that strictly enforcing all biblical standards with legislation might only lead men to become bitter and hardened toward God on account of being forced to practice things that in their inner person they don't agree with. I've seen this same scenario play out even just in church atmosphere's where young people are forced to obey rules by their parents or by church leaders that they themselves don't agree with, only to produce bitterness in their hearts at the leaders/parents who forced them to do those things.

But then that still leaves the question: "Well then what should our laws be based on?" and "What IS the standard of morality for our legislation?" to which I don't have an immediate answer. I believe it should be the Bible and the example of God's morality that he sets for us, but if we are following the same line of reasoning where do we draw the line between what should be legislated and what should not?

Perhaps the answer to this last question is something along the lines of: things that destroy the life or livelihood of others should clearly by against a nation's laws, as it is the government's responsibility to protect the natural rights of its own people.

Again, very difficult question to address. My answer may have more 'question' than 'answer', but at least you can see my perspective.

share|improve this answer
add comment

I think that if we would enforce biblical morals in the church, the world would be drawn to us and so would begin following them anyway. Then, when Christians preach God's law to the world, they will not be able to mock because we do what we preach. God gave his law to reveal sin in the world. Jesus brought the power to overcome sin. So this question can superfluous if we don't even judge sin in the church.

And I don't mean enforce using force, rather enforce using excommunication. Paul said to put out the brother that sins until he turns from his sin. But if a church doesn't even stand on what God says in scripture and call sin what he calls sin, how then can they ever expect to even influence the world. I think this very thing is one of the reason so many youth leave the church and even turn their back God.

Romans 8:2-4 KJV - 2: For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. 3: For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: 4: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

Rom 2:14-15 KJV - 14: For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: 15: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and [their] thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)

share|improve this answer
add comment

At the risk of sounding politically incorrect, I'll go ahead and put in my two cents worth of an answer -

Yes, I think non Christians should live under Christian law.

Four reasons -

  1. All over the world Christians are forced to live under the Islamic law, Communist law, Humanist laws, etc. My point is that unless there is anarchy there can be only one law. And if they don’t live under ours we’ll have to live under theirs. And as some Christians living in those countries can tell you it’s not quite pleasant.
  2. Whatever happens in the rest of the society deeply affects us too. Drugs like Krokodil are an epidemic (I left out crime, broken families because that is obvious). Here in Russia the government is introducing religious classes in schools hoping to curb the moral crisis. Not too long ago, I recall the president was on TV explaining how our religion was part of our heritage. My point – It’s easy to say Christian law isn’t necessary until you have seen the alternatives. Once you do you realize there aren’t many choices.
  3. When the Christians give answers like “no non-Christians shouldn’t live under Christian law”, it’s partly because they don’t want to appear unloving or judgemental. Or that they don’t want to get criticized or insulted. I think if someone wants to follow Christ in these days, getting insulted is something she’ll have to get used to. Secondly, let’s not forget that even our God is not all and all love. When Jesus comes back this time he isn’t coming back with a smiling face to tell you that he loves you. If God is all love and no judgement, let me know, I’ll be the first one to walk out of the faith. Anyone who talks like that hasn’t seen the evil that goes on in this world. My point – Justice is established by force. We can’t sit on the sidelines letting our societies turn into zombie fiction for the fear of appearing judgemental. You are the salt of the earth. Salt irritates. If you’re not irritating someone you’re not doing your job well.
  4. When one says that non Christians should not be required to live under Christians law, it seems to me like a relativist humanist disguised as a Christian. Such things are easy to say only if you believe there are no moral absolutes. The British stopped widow burning system (widows were burned alive along with their dead husbands) in India and human sacrifices in native tribes in Africa and South America. So I guess they did very wrong. They shouldn’t have forced the natives to live under Christian law since they weren’t Christians. My point – "I the LORD have spoken.." That is an absolute.

Lastly pardon my grammar, not a native speaker.

"In order for evil to flourish, all that is required is for good men to do nothing." - Edward Burke.

"The hottest places in Hell are reserved for those who in time of great moral crises maintain their neutrality." – Dante Aleghieri

"In Germany they came first for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up." – Martin Niemoeller

share|improve this answer
    
I'm glad to have you on this site. :) Great answer. I wanted to suggest a couple of edits for Point 3, though. First, God is love, thoroughly and completely. His vengeance is really a result of this (see here for further explanation). I think your point is good, but I would reword it accordingly. Second, I think the "salt" interpretation is incorrect, and I don't think your argument requires it. The idea that "unless you're irritating, you're useless to God, and can never be made irritating again" doesn't make much sense. –  Jas 3.1 Jul 6 '12 at 2:40
    
I answered a similar question here. I'm linking it in your answer because it's the only one I agree with... :p (Pardon the formatting... it was one of my first answers.) –  Jas 3.1 Jul 6 '12 at 2:50
    
@Jas3.1 Thanks Jas. :-) Although I think you didn't understand me. The analogy is Salt on a wound, wound being the fallen and sick world. If we imitate Christ we'll be hated like he was. (If you belonged to the world it would love you John 15:19) If we're not being hated maybe we're not really salt that should irritate a wound. –  Monika Michael Jul 6 '12 at 2:55
    
@Jas3.1 "God is love, thoroughly and completely" Personally that's not how I choose to see him. Justice demands a limit on amount mercy and love. –  Monika Michael Jul 6 '12 at 2:59
1  
Point 1 is a simple tu quoque. I'm not impressed. Point 2: see Norway. Point 3: Meh. Point 4: Humanism and relativism are not the same thing. –  TRiG Jul 13 '12 at 21:40
show 3 more comments

This question can only be answered by stating which biblical laws. The dietary laws of the old testament? The stoning disobedient children law? Should non-christains be forced to attend schurch services? No one in his right mind, even the most ardent athiest, and I am one, could disagree with basic morality, ie don't kill, don't steal, don't lie because those laws help to protect us and others. So which specific "biblical laws" are youtalking about?

share|improve this answer
1  
Welcome to the site. Did you mean this to be a comment? It looks more like you're asking for clarification on the question than providing an answer. I'd invite you to read the FAQ. –  David Stratton Nov 7 '12 at 1:51
add comment

In answering this, I'll assuming you mean religious morals when you say biblical morals, given that folks don't always agree in their interpretations of biblical law.

There are three approaches to answer this question.

First

We assume the secular legislation can be and is distinct from religious law, but that the secular world agrees to adhere to at least one common "secular moral": The survival of society is good.

On this path, we need to make one trivial logical leap about secular legislation. Namely, we need to assume that the purpose of any law is to protect each member of a society from a destructive behavior which can threaten the survival of the whole society. I think it's important to note here that we can only justifiably legislate for or against behaviors based on the immediate, small-scale impact and then treating each individual involved as a representative of the whole society. It is generally impossible to examine a single action and accurately know whether it, in itself, will be the downfall of the society.

For instance: If only one person kills another person in a society of 1 million persons, this behavior does not immediately threaten the whole society. However, with both the killer and the victim as representatives of the same society, the behavior of murder is seen to threaten society. That is, if the behavior were performed either en mass or as an act by and against the society, the society is effectively committing suicide. Hence, killing should not be tolerated beween members of the society, should it wish to survive.

But, we could not reasonably claim that killing is bad for society because a single act of killing will lead to a chain reaction that eventually causes some society-ending calamity.

So, I should also clarify: Only those behaviors which can be "calculated" as threats to society, are shown to have large or growing impact, and which can be reasonably managed are "worthwhile" to actually legislate (probably). We would probably not in sound judgement, for instance, legislate against clipping one's toe-nails "too close" -- even though, if everyone did this, we might see outbreaks of infection that could threaten the society. And while this action certainly could amount to society killing itself with a rusty set of clippers, we have no indication that this is a tendency people actually have, the threat is very low, most of the time it's likely unintentional, and finally, it's nearly impossible to enforce.

According to this line of reasoning, each religious moral must be judged on its own as to whether it fits the purpose of "secular legislation." In doing so, we must, if we are honest, confess that we are finite humans with differing and half-baked opinions. As such, all beliefs regarding the societal impact of a behavior are justified in being nominated for legislation.

As Christians, it's no leap at all to suggest that our religious morals not only overlap in the goals of survival, but that our morals are very good for the secular mission. And since we're all just folks with differing, half-baked opinions, the strict secularist, is he's honest about his own limitations, will have to serious qualms allowing "divinely inspired" behavioral insights into the legal forum.

We don't need to prove, for instance, in any scientific study or grand philosophical discourse that adultery is bad for society. It should be sufficient to state that "we have a very good sense" that it's destructive, whether by our own intuition or by divine inspiration. This doesn't mean the society at large must agree with us on any point -- only that we should feel "justified" in bringing important morals to the table.

Second

We assume that, since secular legislation must be founded on at least one commonly shared moral value (the survival of society), which in itself is a religious value, all legislation is inherently religious. This is a much more philosophically sound approach, in my opinion (though it obviously won't appeal to the strict secularist). But, the root of this approach is this:

There is nothing in nature, nor in the scientific method, to insist that existing is better than not existing.

Got that?

So, when a society agrees that continuing to exist as a society is good, they're already making a religious statement. That said ... well, we don't need to go into more detail. The society is already religious. Religious values, at that point, are rightfully the driver in all legislation.

Good luck convincing any strongly secular person of that though :) Hence, I presented a First approach that doesn't make this "assumption" ...

Third

Perhaps more to the heart of what I think you're asking, God sows His seed everywhere, even where the soil cannot welcome the seed. Regardless of what a religious person feels the nature of secular legislation ought to be, it ought to be the devout religious person's inclination to save everyone. Hence, the devout religious person's motivation should be to bring their religious morals into the public forum, via legislation if needs be. (Legislation shapes the conscience of the people!)

share|improve this answer
add comment

I have read a lot about this whole movement and after doing many tours in in the Middle East serving in the Army. It sounds so much like the Taliban religious laws that it's not funny.

I can't understand how no one that that is talking about this could not. I will say up front I am a Buddhist, I will always be be one. And I should say I am white, so those who what to say that I might be Asain. To Mr Niemoeller, Yes some country its a bad thing to be Christian or any other religion in some countries. And just because they are feeling the a boot on their head, Does not mean you should feel to do the same.

Under Theonomy in Chrisiantry grants the right to

Deuteronomy 17:2-5

If a man or woman living among you in one of the towns the Lord gives you is found doing evil in the eyes of the Lord your God in violation of his covenant, 3 and contrary to my command has worshiped other gods, bowing down to them or to the sun or the moon or the stars in the sky, 4 and this has been brought to your attention, then you must investigate it thoroughly. If it is true and it has been proved that this detestable thing has been done in Israel, 5 take the man or woman who has done this evil deed to your city gate and stone that person to death."

I can find many more like items in the bible and love by those who want Theonomy. As a soldier who has long retired I could not let that happen. But my only question to you only requires a simple yes or no. Can you, personally stone someone to death for being a non-christian?

share|improve this answer
    
Welcome to the site! I'd invite you to read the FAQ, as well as these posts: meta.christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/692/… and meta.christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/1379/… –  David Stratton Mar 20 '13 at 0:51
    
Old Testament laws were intended for Israel for a specific timeframe, basically Moses to Jesus. So, Christianity should never enforce those laws. –  Narnian Mar 21 '13 at 12:22
add comment

Non Christians have not been saved and therefore the Biblical laws can not be applied to someone who might not have knowledge about salvation. We should not judge the people around us because we are not perfect ourselves, and we have to take in consideration that not everyone agrees with all the “biblical morals” or “biblical laws” that are found in the Bible. Those who live outside the Biblical standards have analyzed, observed and therefore made the decision to live in the way they do. We have no right or power to judge others, only God can. In general people should follow a simple code which consist of good for one another, not based on egocentrism but spiritualism, not necessarily ruled by law and unnecessary things that make them feel like they are following God's word just like he commanded us to.

“The purpose of any law is to protect each member of a society from a destructive behavior which can threaten the survival of the whole society.” If we are believers or not doesn't make a difference when it comes to the final judgement made by God. So the real question can be, should the biblical laws be considered a basis for moral society? You can not force a human being to obey if they don not want to, it is a choice made by the individual. Biblical Laws can be also taken as universal laws, for example: “Thou shalt not kill.” This is a universal law that everyone in their four senses knows, it is logical and it is right but its your choice whether to follow it or not.

“Let the one who does wrong continue to do wrong; let the vile person continue to be vile; let the one who does right continue to do right; and let the holy person continue to be holy." (Revelation 22:11) Every religion, person, place, thing, animal, thought, etc…is different. No one can force you to believe or follow anything, its a choice made by us. Just like God gave us life, he gave us the freedom of thought, to whether follow him or not, to follow his commandments or go on our merely way, to do right or to do wrong. Society may not have religious values but they have a basic moral standard that they follow, usually love.

share|improve this answer
    
Hi everyone, this is my opinion, and im only 17 years old....i am making investigation for my class assignment and thought to give you guys a brief idea of what some younger people like myself think about this kind of situation. –  Veronica Feb 6 at 5:08
    
Welcome to the site. However, it seems you've mistaken the purpose of this site. I hope you choose to participate further, but before you do, you should read How we are different than other sites? and then the help page and What makes a good supported answer? –  David Stratton Feb 6 at 19:25
    
@Veronica Thank you for posting and I hope you do again in the future. This site is built on a strict question and answer format. It's not a discussion forum, so posts about opinions or asking for opinions or thoughts are "off-topic". Answers need to answer the question and questions need to be within certain guidelines. To be completely fair, this is a very old question when the site was just starting out and would not be allowed today. Don't let that stop you! Please do look around and post again soon. –  fredsbend Feb 6 at 19:56
add comment

The laws of the Bible are emotional laws that if everyone followed, joy and peace would surround the world. Yet they are external as a form of preventative action to prevent offense.

For example: The command not to kill. When you kill someone you effect yourself and possibly others emotionally.

Yet I call them external because the true cause of offense is Pride. For pride is the cause of unbelief.

Now the Teachings show the emotional waves of denial, anger, bargaining, and depression. Faith however prevents the offense, and forgiveness leads to acceptance (John 15).

Now Non-Believers can get very angry and it can be annoying hanging around all the arguing, so as the Law prevents offense outwardly, faith and humility prevents offense inwardly. Therefore the I myself, no longer becoming offended, and everyone else not becoming offended then true peace can be established around the world. Yet till that day comes, the outward prevention of offense is necessary. Especially for the non-believers, for they lack the ability to prevent themselves from their anger. Therefore they need more attention and care, while the learning develops throughout the economy.

So judge for yourself. Do you want the non believers more angry and depressed? Or is it better to help protect them while they learn their humility?

share|improve this answer
add comment

protected by David Stratton Feb 6 at 19:25

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality answers, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site.

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.