Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people. (1)
“Stand therefore in the Liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. … For … ye have been called into liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.” (2)
As religion and morality are in a partnership with the law, truly at its very foundation, so also religion and morality are paramount to sustaining the law and perpetuating freedom.
This is so because the religious and moral perspective—if given free access to the public debate, the public school system, the public lawmaking process, consistent with freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of petition, and freedom of assembly guarantees in the United States Constitution—provides a persuasive testimony that many of the great general principles of the law found in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the State Constitutions, the Common Law, and the Bill of Rights, are fixed in the eternities, and as such, are unalterable as to their basic premises.
This understanding is key to the accomplishment of two things:
1) It helps limit legal flexibility, or the idea of a living constitution, nearly entirely to necessary administrative changes, evolving fine point particulars, and case by case, time and place applications that in almost all instances—as to the case by case, time and place applications—become exceptions to the rule, not new rules.
2) It sends a cautionary message to those who would tamper with, or legislate counter to these fundamental premises that they do so at considerable risk, and that a vigilant public will not let the moment pass without notice.
That is, when a rock solid belief in certain eternal truths prevails among the majority it acts as a check, an anchor, a stabilizing influence upon moral relativism, upon rashness, political expediency, and the ‘crisis’ mentality; upon judicial activism , political opportunism, and ideological revolutionaries; upon transformationalist agendas, and upon every whimsical fad and media driven poll—because it sends a firm message to lawmakers and law breakers, to opinion molders and special interest groups, and to every loyal citizen to ‘slow down!’ to ‘hold on!’ to ‘act proactively in defense of our Constitution and the fundamental values which undergird it, rather than reactively—to, in essence, ‘be still, and know that God is still God, truth is still truth, eternal law is still eternal law,’ and that the U.S. Constitution was no happenstance stroke of good fortune but the product of Divine Inspiration to men “raised up” to the very purpose of liberating all of God’s children—and as free men, to make every man accountable for his own actions in relationship to the law, his neighbors, and before God—and of permitting the agency of man to find its full individual expression as God intended, and therefore enabling man to live in an atmosphere that where the opportunities for personal growth are limitless—and believing all this, to thus inspire, at least the majority of us, to stand firm and find a way to win each battle without losing the war, to save lives without losing souls, to enlarge our freedoms without unwittingly casting a vote in favor of a step by step abandonment of our personal and collective liberties, lest the time come where the foolish exercise of our liberty only means that we chose, of our own free will, to be personally and collectively slaves to the lusts of the flesh and the edicts of tyrants.
And again, religion and morality are paramount to sustaining the law and perpetuating freedom because the religious and moral perspective inspires a private and public reverence for the law and moral accountability for actions in relationship to that law in the hearts of the citizens, from the least to the greatest. But even better, while it inspires a sense of reverence (or even fear in the weakest of individuals), it inspires a love of God, of neighbor, of law, of truth, and of goodness in the best of citizens; and thus inspires a responsible, even virtuous exercise of freedom, or what Adam Smith called “enlightened self interest.”
That is, it inspires the sort of responsible, caring, freewill attitude that puts the spouse, the family, the community, and the nation before self; and in turn invokes enough self-control, fair play, charity, and honesty, so that economic systems like laissez faire, and political systems such as representative democracy, do not become their own worst enemy, which they inevitably do when morality and religion fail.
And how and why is that?
American founder, and second US President, John Adam’s explained:
“We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution is made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
To which Benjamin Franklin added:
“Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.”
This is common sense. We see it today, and throughout history, as various countries experiment with free government, some successfully, some not so successfully, and still others disastrously.
It is also part of God’s law.
In Holy Scripture we learn of democratic styled systems “if the time comes that the voice of the people doth choose iniquity, then is the time that the judgments of God will come upon [them]; yea, then is the time that he will visit [them] with great destruction even as he hath hitherto visited this land.” (3)
And again, “I the Lord God, make you free, therefore ye are free indeed; and the law also maketh you free. Nevertheless, when the wicked rule the people mourn.” (4)
It’s just an inescapable truth. Representative or democratic styled governments mirror the moral and educational make-up of their peoples for good or ill. And this seems to be the way the Lord wants it:
“If [the] people commit sins and iniquities they shall be answered upon their own heads.” (5)
Thus the people bring upon their own heads blessings and cursings; and, interestingly, usually when the cursings come, it is “the wicked who shall [rob, rape, enslave and] slay the wicked.” (6) Their own debauchery becomes legislator, judge, and executioner.
Paul warns us in Galatians, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” (7)
It is called the law of the Harvest. Our nation is no stronger then the collective morality of the people. Point of fact.
1. Old Testament, Proverbs 1:14
2. New Testament, Galatians 5:1, 13
3. Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Christ, Mosiah 29:27
4. Doctrine and Covenants, 98:8-9
5. Mosiah 29:30
6. Doctrine and Covenants, 63:33
7. Galatians 6:7
Steve Farrell is the Founder and Editor-In-Chief of The Moral Liberal, one of the original and most popular pundits at NewsMax.com (1999-2007), and the author of the inspirational novel, Dark Rose (Kindle edition now available).