Legislating the sins we can’t control

July 23, 2006 at 10:44 pm Leave a comment

phpdaycmk.jpgIn the July/August 2006 issue of Liberty magazine, Kevin D. Paulson makes an intriguing point about the Christian desire to use political power to restore the morality of our country: it is perhaps the evangelical doctrine of salvation and grace that has caused the problem in the first place.

After all, evangelicals tend to preach the (legitimate) truth that salvation comes only through God’s grace, while failing to take seriously the complementary truth that this grace is supposed to give us power to overcome sin.

As Paulson points out, Jesus said we are to “be perfect” (Mt. 5:48), but most evangelicals would say that perfection is actually impossible. The result is that many evangelicals preach a powerless grace that allows us to become comfortable with the moral failings we find most difficult to overcome.

Is legislation, then, the appropriate means for fighting our culture’s moral decadence? Perhaps it is unfair of us to expect the government to correct problems for which our theology has made room.

Paulson quotes Mario Cuomo, governor of New York, during the 1984 U.S. presidential campaign:

“Are we asking government to make criminal what we believe to be sinful because we ourselves can’t stop committing the sin? The failure here is not Caesar’s. This failure is our failure—the failure of the entire people of God.”

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Profile

profile.jpgI am working on my M.A. in Religion at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan. Besides having a big interest in theology, history, ethics, and the deep stuff of life, I am also very fond of Mediterranean food, snow, and the color red.

Email me: jamie.kiley@gmail.com

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