Legislation and Morality
by Dave Fessenden
Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems to me that the church has been strangely silent on the question of legalizing marijuana.
Granted, today’s society is less willing than in previous generations to accept the Christian’s view of social ethics and morality, but that shouldn’t stop us from speaking out. And it hasn’t when it comes to other issues, such as abortion. From my research of the 1920s for my historical mystery novel, The Case of the Exploding Speakeasy, I believe a different dynamic is keeping us silent about the legalization of marijuana.
I think we are held back from speaking by a well-known (though somewhat inaccurately portrayed) historical event: Prohibition. The lesson we learn from that era, according to secularists, can be summed up in a single popular catchphrase: “You can’t legislate morality.” Based on that reasoning, if drinking is immoral (as many believers in the 1920s believed), and government could not legislate against it, then government cannot legislated against marijuana, either. (Or heroin, for that matter!)
Logically, however, the phrase “You can’t legislate morality” is utter nonsense. Virtually every piece of legislation has a moral component to it. The most obvious example is probably the law against murder: murder is immoral, a violation of the Ten Commandments and, to some extent, of most other moral codes throughout history.
So let’s not be intimidated by the lame argument that “You can’t legislate morality.” Instead, we should address the real lesson to be learned from Prohibition: just because something is legal (or illegal), does not make it moral (or immoral). For example, abortion has been made legal, but taking a human life, born or unborn, is still immoral.
Seven states and the District of Columbia have legalized the “recreational use” of marijuana. I contend, based on Old and New Testament teaching, that becoming inebriated (whether by alcohol or marijuana) is immoral, and often leads to further immorality. Do you agree?
David E. Fessenden is a literary agent for WordWise Media Services. He has degrees in journalism and theology, and over 30 years of professional experience in writing and editing, including editorial management positions for Christian book publishers. He is the author of seven published books. www.FromConcepttoContract.com