legislating morality

i understand that there are probably as many opinions on abortion as there are people on this forum. that said, why should any one religion’s opinion on the subject be forced onto people that aren’t of that faith?

so abortion is a sin in the catholic church, but why should hindus or muslims have to accept that? some do or don’t anyway, but there doesn’t seem to be any general consensus in those religions. most muslims allow it until the fourth month, and many, but not all, hindus ban it outright.

so my question isn’t on whether or not abortion is a sin. rather, i want to know is if it is ever alright to force one person’s beliefs on another person, and why or under what circumstances.

The idea that we shouldn’t “legislate morality” a common position of individuals who support legalized abortion and same sex marriage. They say we shouldn’t force our beliefs on others. The thing is, we legislate morality all the time on less controversial issues. A thirty year old man cannot have sex with a ten year old girl, a thirteen year old boy cannot legally purchase and consume alcohol and cigarettes, and I cannot refuse to hire someone because of the color of their skin or their sex. Every one of those issues is 100% a morality question.

If the case is made that we can’t legislate morality we have to legalize all those things and quite a few other things besides. The reality is, most of our laws are based on some level in morality. Judge Robert Bork famously said, “You can’t legislate morality; We legislate little else.” He was right. In fact the very fabric of society is based on our concept of morality. If you throw that out, what do we have left?

i think you can legislate morality in a lot of ways. that’s what taxes are for. you could tax gasoline $6 a gallon, and people would start driving more electric cars, for example. you could tax alcohol $6 a bottle, and people would drink less.

but my question wasn’t about morality, it was about religious views. morality changes, it gets updated to reflect popular opinions. like slavery or colonialism, these things used to be considered moral. some people even thought cannibalism was not only moral, but required to ensure the welfare of their general population.

religions, on the other hand, don’t change. they are, by their very nature, already possessing some ultimate truth, so to change it would be a step backwards.

but to take the example of gay marriage and abortion: there is a difference between the moral viewpoint and the religious viewpoint. is there not? 13 year-olds buying alcohol or not is a moral position, not a religious prohibition. the same thing with adults having sex with children. religious people likely do oppose this, but more on moral grounds than religious grounds. and then you have some small denominations (if you can even call it that) like the branch davidians that did practice pedophilia.

i can see how the subjects of morality and religion are interwoven for many people, but on the other hand somebody who is not religious may also be very moral. so i guess what i want to know is where people draw the line between their religion and their morality, maybe.

also, i can’t figure out what the bork quote is supposed to mean. really, i’m stumped.

so if your personal beliefs permit theft, rape, battery or any other crime the state should not legislate morality for you?

i don’t know. i think that there are good reasons for society that those things not be permitted, so if government’s job is to affect the continuation of a stable society, then i think it would make sense.

i don’t know about any other crime, but in the case of theft rape and battery, it seems like the person who commits those crimes must be a sociopath. before you commit those crimes, a person must first dehumanize their victim. a rapist especially must have no empathy for other people.

the question of theft is definitely more nuanced. robin hood was a good guy, by most accounts, and one of the most notable things he did was steal from people. there is the case of whether it is okay to steal bread to feed your family. most people would say that it was okay, because the good outweighs the bad. but what if you family didn’t like bread, they liked cigarettes? then it gets more complicated. (for those that aren’t avid simpson’s fans, this is the justification given to bart by the mob goon for why it was okay to rip off a delivery truck.)

My personal opinion (not necessarily the official position of the Church) is that the state has a right – indeed, a responsibility – to legislate morality in cases where immorality harms others who have not given their meaningful, adult consent to that harm.

So, when we talk about abortion, the matter is clear. From any logical position, including that of honest science, the child is a separate human being with his/her own unique human DNA. As a child, he/she cannot give consent to their being aborted. So the act of aborting the child can and should be prohibited by the state. Government must protect innocent human beings under its jurisdiction.

However, when you talk about other issues like gay ‘marriage,’ it is more of a gray area. I do not believe it’s the state’s business who sleeps with whom, provided it’s among consenting adults. I agree completely with the Church’s position on homosexuality, that the homosexual act is gravely disordered and immoral, but that does not necessarily follow that it’s any of the government’s business.

Of course, when you bring children into the matter (e.g., adoption by homosexual ‘parents’) it then becomes a valid area of government restriction, because somebody who cannot give meaningful, adult consent is now involved.

Part of liberty (and free will!) is the freedom to do the wrong thing…if we give government the authority to legislate morality in cases where the innocent is not harmed, it’s only a matter of time before they’re legislating all kinds of other moral matters and taking away individual liberty. How long before the state’s morality police define our moral ideas (e.g., allegiance to the Catholic Church) as the ones that must be suppressed?

So, in other words, while I would love to live in a world that lived by the moral doctrines of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, I would not want to live in one where all of those doctrines were forced upon an unwilling populace by decree… government should stick to setting basic guidelines to protect individual liberty (e.g., the right to live, freedom of speech and religion, etc.) and leave the rest to the individuals.

God bless you.

It’s a tough question because, for one thing, religion is supposedly based on morality; the two, as you mention, are so interwoven in people’s minds as well as in societal practice, that I’m not sure they can effectively be separated. I understand your trying to separate purely moral issues and specific religious beliefs–which you state should not be imposed on the the whole population–by saying that moral beliefs are subject to change according to the social norms, while religious beliefs and practices do not change. However, that is not entirely true since religious views do change, even if gradually and not dramatically. True, there is resistance to these changes by traditional believers of the faith, but that does not nullify the changes that take place within the religion. Hence we have all the branches within a particular religion expressing diverse opinions. They may not all be accepted as legitimate, some of them may be considered heretical; still they regard themselves as legitimate and sometimes even the true expression of the faith. When a government is founded on the basis of religious liberty for all–as the United States was–in theory, no one religion should impose its views on the whole populace. And that is the case in the private worship of one’s faith. However, the moral and social perspective of the government often incorporates the views of the religious groups that founded it and the laws themselves are grounded in those views.

It isn’t just Catholics, just Christians, or just believers who are against abortion. Ultimately, it comes down to recognizing an unborn child as a human. I mean, all of the science and signs are there that this is a living human being. I hope you don’t mind me making generalizations, but everyone agrees that the unjustified killing of a defenseless and/or innocent human being is murder, and everyone agrees that murder is gravely wrong and punishable by law. That is what differentiates ‘murder’ from ‘killing in self defense’, and why one is a serious crime and the other is not.

Now, when you recognize the pre-born child as a human being, you also have to recognize its innocent/defenseless nature. Therefore, killing it would fall under the definition of murder. Since murder is wrong in pretty much every civilization, abortion is equally as wrong because it is a ‘type’ of murder, such as suicide, infanticide, or patricide.

Those with the personal agenda to keep abortion legal will argue that pre-born children are not actually humans will sound very compelling. However, when you look at the science involved compared to their statements, their arguments become a house of straw.

of all the stupid pro-choice arguements this has to be the lamest. All laws legislate morality, which means they legislate relationships between people for the good of the state.

The problem is without God, there is no morality. There’s anarchy and a return trip a barbaric state.

And the problem is we are already well on our way down that path.

Abortion is a lie, and it won’t stand. Because a majority do not believe in a Truth, it does not make the Truth any less Truth.

So then what is it that God will do on the Day of Judgement? He will be legislating morality.
I don’t understand how anyone can think it is at all wrong for a government and its system of laws to reflect the same standards upon its populace that God will expect from each one of us. In regard to those who don’t believe, whatever their reasons, do you honestly think that any judge would let you off on a speeding ticket because you didn’t believe that exceeding the speed limit was wrong?
God not only legislates morality, He enforces it. Governments should do the same.

The problem with American culture is that we are a democracy, but the Kingdom of God is not a democracy. It is closer to a monarchy. How can anyone think that God will bend to the popular majority opinion is ridiculous.

And if we aren’t legislating morality, then what IS law? Are you saying that law is not morality? If law isn’t morality, then tell us what it is.

Are not those who legalized abortion legislating their morality (or immorality) on those of us who believe it is murder?

Beliefs in this instance is not a philosophy but a morality based in a real personal God one can know. One may be “detached” proceeding toward enlightenment, but stepping over a sick or dying person fails in being worthy of consideration. Not that z0wb13 would, but a little nun in Calcutta saw too much of this to not show a better way.

This better way is mandated to be implemented where we are in life, at play, at home, at work be it the hospital, the gas station, or the halls of congress. We ensconced in Christianity also come from the ranks of those outside of it and must let be known this Christ Who is at the heart of this better way by fixing broken laws and helping fix broken people as Mother Theresa did, but in the place God puts us.

God calls whom He will, but the Grace of God is at work in all who seek this better way and this grace leads infallibly to Christ, the Second Person of the Trinity. We know personally the regret of conscience hidden in immorality and worldly philosophies that fail to lift up creatures made in the image and likeness of Him to their true dignity and leave them mired in sin and despair. This is why we legislate morality, it comes from this better way.

Looking at it from another angle:
Approximately 8 days (per my doctor) after my husband came home from Vietnam, I was pregnant. Again. I was 20 years old and already had 2 children.
I had no religious beliefs beyond a vague belief in God. We had NO money, no jobs and were living with his brother’s family. There were 11 (yes 11) people living in one 3 bedroom house.
The whole family tried to convince me to go to Puerto Rico (on my BILs nickle) to abort. It was 1968. No RvW yet.
I KNEW abortion was wrong and refused. I could not kill my baby though I could not have made a coherent arguement as to why not. I just knew.
So, in my case religion did not equal any kind of an anti abortion arguement.
I believe God imbued our consciences with the knowledge of right and wrong. Whether one claims to believe in God or not, the conscience is still there. Many ignore it or argue with it. But…it’s still there.

Once our brothers of no-faith, atheist etc can actually prove we are not living in Gods creation, and by His mercy by the moment. Than another point of view might actually become relevant.

But till that time, which is the “5th of Never”. We shall go with the Creator over the Creature. :thumbsup:

Much Love,
God Bless, Gary

Not exactly. Those who have legalized abortion are giving people who have honestly different religious viewpoints about when life begins and when the baby receives a soul, based on their own faith, the option to have an abortion under certain circumstances. This may be an offensive option to Catholics but government is NOT requiring Catholics who do not believe in abortion to choose this option. On the other hand, by making abortion illegal for all under any circumstances, government is removing this option from those who do not hold the same religious beliefs as those of Catholics.

But the problem goes further than that. What about federal and state tax money that funds abortion. In a very real sense, those who see abortion as the murder of an innocent human being are being forced to fund it, at least in part.

But even where funding is not at issue, this is not something akin to an elective cosmetic procedure. It is the ending of an innocent pre-born human life. Thus, the government’s sanctioning of abortion causes the end of an innocent life. It’s not just about the mother friend, although God knows such women need help and counselling and all the assistance we can provide. But, I’m quite sure that if the child in question had any standing on the issue, abortion would be virtually non-existent, regardless of the mother’s personal morality.


As a Catholic, I do not oppose abortion based upon the teaching of the Catholic Church. I oppose it because I oppose the taking of innocent life. Where and when human life begins is not a matter of religious doctrine. It is a matter of scientific fact. It is beyond argument that if conception has taken place a new and unique life has been created, with DNA unique from both parents. The Government has sanctioned the taking of innocent life. I see no 1st Amendment bar to my right to seek a change in that policy.

[quote=z0b]but to take the example of gay marriage and abortion: there is a difference between the moral viewpoint and the religious viewpoint. is there not?

I think you’re missing something fundamental here. Although Catholics and other groups of christians are personally opposed to abortion and “gay marriage” on religious grounds, there are moral justifications for opposing abortion and protecting the institution of marriage as it has traditionally been recognized. I could not seek to pass legislation banning these things on the basis that the Catholic Church teaches that they are wrong. But I could oppose both on moral grounds without relying on the doctrinal statements of my faith. In other words, what you are suggesting is that if one’s morality is based in their religion they should be prevented from seeking legislation consistent with it. Conversely, you seem to suggest that if one’s morality is not formed within the context of a religion, that is a proper basis for legislation. Is this really your position, or am I just not tracking with you.

If this is your position, you see the problem, right? It actually penalizes those of us with morality formed from our faith (Catholic, Muslim, etc.) and would bar us from any say on many (if not all) of the key issues of our day.


In the US, public funding for abortions for poor women is minimal at best, only for exceptional cases, and not provided in all states. More of our tax money is used to support the war in Afghanistan and other conflicts than for abortion. Of course, abortion is not comparable to an elective cosmetic procedure. The majority of women who have abortions don’t do it for “kicks.” And it is also true that some women may abuse their legal rights, middle class women as well as poor, and wealthy women who may be able to afford abortions in private clinics. (I would suppose you are opposed to abortions in private settings as well as public.) I agree abortions are a serious matter and should be rare and performed only in severe circumstances. But to make ALL abortions illegal will not end abortions; it will only make them unregulated and much less safe. You and other hard-line opponents of abortion under ANY circumstances fail to realize, or simply do not accept, that not all women’s religious beliefs agree with your own and that you are attempting to impose your own religious values on the whole population.

No, we should never force or impose one religious belief on others, which is one of the paramount reasons why the world is becoming very anxious with the radical muslims who indeed use mortal force to ensure “their” belief of the muslim faith is either spread or not interfered with.

Now, that being said, let’s not be secular hypocrites either. The “civil laws” impose severe penalties for murder - and in the case of the murder of a pregnant woman, whose baby dies in the womb as a result of her death by murder - the perpetrator is charged with a “double homicide” recognizing that the baby in the womb was “a person” who was “alive” and is now “dead” as a result of the action to murder the mother.

So, therefore, why can the murder of child “by the mother” be less than a crime if the same child is murdered by another, who was killing the mother? The mothers action was premediated, the criminals action upon the baby in the womb may have been accidental, but it is still a murder charge. And going to the logical conclusion of your question, why can the State impose an irrational law upon its citizens in refusing to recognize murder as murder when the State’s court recognize the same act of killing a child as murder by a criminal? The State is imposing the State’s “belief” upon the populace.

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