Christianity,  Politics

All law is imposed morality

The inimitable Doug Wilson is in rare form over the subpoenaed sermons in Houston. He writes:

I have been pointing out the totalitarian impulse of progressives for some time, but they are not totalitarian because they want to impose morality. They are totalitarian because they want to impose an immoral morality. They are not totalitarian because they want to suppress something. All laws suppress something. The problem is what they want to suppress. They want to suppress decency and glorify kink, when they ought to be doing the opposite.

There are only two options — public virtue or public vice. There is no neutral third zone that enables our ruling elites to privatize all virtue and vice, thus enabling them as moderators of our public discourse to make their Olympian decisions in accord with some trans-moral system.

All law is imposed morality, and the only question concerns which morality will be imposed. Either you will impose virtue on the creeper who wants into the ladies room, or you will impose your system of vice on pastors who object to creepers being allowed in the ladies room. You will either punish vice or you will punish virtue. Houston is currently doing the latter.

The rest is here.


  • Chris Ryan

    Most preachers I know would love the Mayor and all their officials to read their sermons. Forget abt a copy, send them 3 or 4!

    And if you’re going to call progressives totalitarians, then be sure to call conservatives the same. The Bush WH targeted a church, All Saints Episcopal, whose pastor had the audacity to speak out against the Iraq War. As Romney used to say, “Sauce for the goose, sauce for the gander.”

  • James Stanton

    I wanted to get a clearer idea of why Houston subpoenaed sermons. This article seems to avoid the posturing over the issue. The political element of the social conservative press is using this as another front in the “religious liberty” campaign. Doug Wilson makes a blanket statement about the “totalitarian impulse of progressives” when this case in Houston is rather quite extraordinary.

    The interesting thing is that the latest stage of the culture war between social conservatives and “progressives” has moved beyond homosexuals having a right to marry to who can use which bathroom. I think this just shows how bankrupt the debate has become.

  • Curt Day

    What this post provides, especially with the last 2 lines of the part of Doug’s post shown here, is the justification for theonomy, constantinianism, or some form of Christian Paternalism. In the end, we still have Christians seeking a privileged place in society rather than looking to join nonChristians as equal collaborators in how society should be passed.

  • James Bradshaw

    The law exists to protect liberties and freedoms as well as safety. That is its purpose and limit. It may be immoral to be an idolator or a heretic, but the Constitution explicitly protects your freedom to be one without any fear of civil penalties.

    Wilson must be fondly thinking of Calvin’s Geneva again. It certainly doesn’t sound like America.

    • Bob Wilson

      Wilson is very much an authoritarian and has said so. In a panel discussion with John Piper, which can be seen on youtube, he said openly that if he was in charge of a country which reached 85-90% “Christian”, he would shut down competing houses of worship, specifically mentioning mosques. He didn’t go on to define “Christian” (would he shut down Catholic churches?) or mention if synagogues could stay open. I suspect not.

      He at least said that those followers of disallowed religions would not be “molested” in their homes. Nice of him.

      I should also point out that NONE of the other panelists objected to this frightening statement. They didn’t endorse it either; they just let it go by as if it were nothing worth any comment.

      • James Stanton

        I hadn’t heard that. I did read his post on his website where he commented that he saw nothing objectionable about Ted Cruz’s grandstanding and divisive behavior at an event raising awareness about the plight of Christians in the middle east. I stopped reading shortly after that.

      • Ryan Davidson

        Wilson is a Christian Reconstructionist (a la Rousas Rushdoony). He’s a creative guy and a perceptive observer of cultural trends. His prescriptions go a bit off the rails, though.

    • buddyglass

      Agree. Worth mentioning, though, that protecting others’ liberties, freedoms and safety needs a moral basis. Otherwise, why should I care about anybody’s liberty, freedom and safety but my own? Somehow I don’t think that’s the sort of moral basis Wilson had in mind, though.

  • Ryan Davidson

    Frankly, I don’t get why the bathroom issue is all that important. Many countries have unisex bathrooms.

    I worked in Japan for a few years and lived adjacent to a Southern Baptist church. Guess what? It had a unisex bathroom! Yes, that’s right, folks, a unisex bathroom in a Southern Baptist church!

    • James Bradshaw

      @Ryan: I have mixed feelings about the unisex bathrooms. Restrooms require a little bit of vulnerability, so I understand why some women might feel uneasy about having to share the space with men.

      I also sympathize with some transgender male-to-females, though, who might also feel threatened by having to use a men’s restroom.

      Perhaps the answer is create more private cubicles instead of those dressing room-like doors that just seem to invite both the voyeur and the exhibitionist.

      Either way, much of this hysteria is over a cultural taboo, not a moral issue. There’s certainly nothing in Scripture along the lines of “Thou shalt not pee-eth next to the opposite gender.”

      • Ryan Davidson

        Agree. For the record, I note that bathroom stall dividers in Japan, like those in most countries, lie only 1/4-inch off of the floor. There’s also no huge crack in the doors. Sometimes there’s even a white noise machine to prevent you from having to hear other people.

        And you’re right about the cultural taboos. When I was in Budapest a few weeks ago for work, a colleague and I had a few hours free and decided to go to a Turkish bath a few blocks from our hotel. The changing room was unisex. There were curtained-off changing rooms along one of the walls. In front of the changing rooms was a sign that read, “Women and Children Only.” And, yes, men were required to wear Speedos in the bath.

        I was in Zurich a few weeks before that, and was taken to a high-end spa by a client. Same story there.

        Americans harbor too many hangups about these things!

  • Tammy Rainey

    a couple of basic flaws in that quote, first the more minor and then the one that cuts to the heart of the discussion:

    1. You can always tell when a person is trying to emotionally support their thesis (as oppose to factually support it) by the use of loaded language. The insulting term “creeper” has no place in this point and serves as nothing but a direct slur against trans people or else an admission of abject ignorance. There’s a large and growing daily body of evidence which demonstrates that there is no increase in non-trans “creepers” doing women harm in jurisdictions with trans friendly legislation. That traditionalist continue to peddle a myth (among several others) indicates a poorly reasoned and knee-jerk argument.

    2. Do all laws impose some sort of morality? YES!! Are their only two options, morality and vice? Absolute nonsense. Some examples:

    Capital punishment: Catholics hold that it is immoral, most evangelicals do not – morality will be imposed, but who’s? and how do we decide?

    Consumption of alcohol recreationally. Some condone, others condemn. Who’s morality should we impose – and why?

    War. To the Amish and Quakers, immoral, to many others not.

    The claim that there is only virtue and vice in terms of civil law is pablum of the most shallow sort, unless you live in a society where there is only one set of moral beliefs. The reality is that the state is empowered to impose virtue IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST. That is, there needs to be a compelling SECULAR civil interest in imposing on liberty for such an imposition to be worthy in a free society. As soon as you suggest that the state ought to enforce ANY standard for which the only compelling argument is one of religious doctrine, you have claimed that the state ought be empowered to impose any doctrine held by the majority on those who do not hold that doctrine.

    Baptists, of ALL Christians, ought be the most opposed to such a notion. Taking no particular side on the sermon issue (I know why they asked, but feel it was too invasive in terms of setting precedent to have gone unchallenged) but the Traditionalist insistence that the state enforce by power of law policies which, despite smokescreens, are essentially a reflection of traditional DOCTRINE is a far greater threat to religious liberty than over-reaching lawyers and politicians could ever be.

    • Tammy Rainey

      also, do we no longer affirm the notion “In essentials unity, in non-esentials liberty, in all things charity”?

      Did we ever?

      And is it then argued that gender identity and sexual orientation doctrine are essentials of the faith?

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