rebelling against low expectations

Should Christians legislate morality?


CALEB WRITES: Should Christians push for and create laws that legislate morality (such as laws about gay marriage or abortion)? Should we force non-believers to operate like believers? They will ultimately be judge according to God’s law, of course, but can you make someone who does not hold to the same creed obey something they don’t believe? What do you think?

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  • As far as things like abortion go, I believe that there should be no compromise. Children’s lives are at stake and laws should be put in place to protect them. They are helpless. Shouldn’t we as believers bring about laws that will save them?

  • This goes back to opinions on the role of government in people’s lives.

    First of all, let’s recognize that whatever responsibility taken on by government in your life is a place where you have lost responsibility. For example, if government is there to take care of you, you have lost the responsibility to take care of yourself.

    Now, government intervention into your life and others has always been a topic hotly debated by Christians especially. You have Christians everywhere, from libertarianism to conservatism, to progressivism, to socialism—from every school of economics, and from every worldview, so we can’t claim that our one belief is certain for Christians to follow, even if we reach a consensus.

    So next, let’s define “legislating morality”. Legislating means mandating—a decree by the government. These decrees mean force, because without force there is no way to ensure that it is kept. For example, if there was no punishment for murder, there is little stopping a person from murdering another. Morality means distinction between what behavior is right, and what behavior is wrong.

    Therefore legislating morality, by definition, is using force to decree what behavior is right, and what behavior is wrong.

    There are a lot of Christians I know of, primarily Conservatives, who agree with this as a role of government. However, I see two issues with this. First, that this criteria can become reductio ad absurdum—for example, lying is wrong, so therefore government should make lying illegal. Second, is the question, how do we define what is right and what is wrong? As it is the government decreeing it, it is the government which must decide morality. This becomes an issue, because without restriction on this criteria, there is likewise no restriction on how far this criteria may be abused. People’s rights may be violated for whatever reason provided that the government views it to be right.

    Of course, a lot on the Religious Right support holding the government to the standard of morality as described in the Bible, but that goes back to the idea that there are wide variations in the interpretations of the Bible, and is a discussion for another time.

    So, if legislating morality cannot be a role of government, then what is? There are many areas where government is ‘legislating morality’ in a sense, for example, Murder, Theft, Arson, et cetera, but if we conclusively say that it is the role of government, then other things such as lying, cheating, adultery, and gluttony (obesity) must then be regulated by the government.

    This is where we get into the opinion part of this analysis.

    Many people have different answers to that question. Some on the left say the role of government is to enforce equality, others say that it’s to enforce public good. I disagree, however, and follow the line of thought employed by many people, specifically classical liberals, that the role of government is protect three things: Life, Liberty, and Property.

    Back to the beginning where I mentioned that anything the government takes responsibility over has taken responsibility away from the individual. This is why it’s important to define a clear role of government, to define what things the individual has power over himself, and what areas the government has power over the individual.

    When my criteria is implemented on the issues mentioned by Mr. Caleb, applying the values that an unborn baby is its own line, we can determine that abortion laws are necessary as government has a role to protect the life of the child, the property of the child, and the liberty of the child.

    However, when applied to the marriage issue, we have to ask ourselves, is marriage licensing at all a protection of life, liberty, or property, from government or from other individuals? And the answer to that is no—in fact, it’s the exact opposite, as government has the ability to define what marriage looks like instead of leaving that up to God and the church.

    So is it the role of government to legislate morality? I don’t believe so. Is it even to protect life, liberty, and property? Maybe not, as it is a matter of principle, and therefore of opinion. Find your own view of government’s role in society, develop it and refine it—and you’ll have your own answer to the question you’ve asked.

    • It is a matter of opinion, like Thomas said. But forcing people to act like a believer is extreme. Yes, there should be more morality in government, obviously because it’s turned into a circus ring and people protest on a regular basis. But forcing someone to act in a certain way takes away their freedom of choice, a precious gift God first gave, and then this country would be like many others in the world.

    • Definitely an opinion as you said Thomas. Thanks for defining your terms as it helps clarify what one says (most of the time anyway…). I do have a question for you. You stated that the government shouldn’t have a role in something like defining marriage. But what about when the government does decide that it has that right (assuming it doesn’t)? What does one do then?

      • Very good question. First of all, I’d like to note that any issue in which I believe that the government has no role in it—my position is no involvement at all, meaning, get the government out of it.

        For example, if the issue is which kind of lightbulbs should be legal, I wouldn’t argue that fluorescent ones are safer, even if that’s what I believe, I’d argue that the government has no role in the regulation of what kind of lightbulbs you should use.

        However, if it comes down to an issue where you’re forced to take a position on, then align with your values. These issues are things that I like to call “values issues”, because it isn’t a matter of principle (or role of government), but rather an clash of values.

        Abortion is one of these issues. Everyone (except anarchists) believe that the role of government is to protect life. However, people still support abortion because they don’t consider the unborn to be life, which is their value. We agree on principle, but we disagree on the value—whether or not the unborn is life.

        In these cases, you take a position based on your values.

  • Gay marriage and abortion shouldn’t even be legalized in the first place. It’s immoral. Now we can’t change people’s hearts only God can, so when it comes to a person’s morality, God, not laws can only change them.

    • Just going to devil’s advocate here: You say that gay marriage and abortion shouldn’t be legal because it’s immoral. However, some say that eating cows and pigs are immoral, does that mean we should make that illegal, too?

      • I actually agree with what you said, Thomas, even though I don’t know if you were posted what you actually believed, or whether you were posting to make people think 🙂 But I don’t think it is the government’s responsibility to institute morality. However, I do think it is the government’s responsibility to protect innocent lives, so abortion shouldn’t be legal.

        • I usually don’t post what I actually believe unless I’m making a point or looking for an argument. But as a libertarian I personally believe that the role of government is to protect life, liberty, and property—not to institute morality—and I agree exactly with you about abortion. 🙂

          • I am not sure I follow; if the government is already passing laws to punish murders, thieves, rapists etc. isn’t it already passing laws based upon morality? Therefore, it is in essence promoting moral standards and codes. If you say that the government’s role is to protect life, liberty and property, then you are assuming that that is good thing, to do according to your moral code (which I agree with btw), for the government to follow these standards, thus the government is instituting some sort of morality. I remember the story of Esther. When the king had passed an irrevocable law stating that all the isrealites would be killed, and then later discovered that it was a trap, he passed another law saying that the isrealites may protect themselves on that day, since his first law couldn’t be withdrawn, he had passed this one to ‘cancel out’ the effects of the first. Esther was actively involved in the passing of this law, I believe. Shouldn’t this be an example for us to promote laws that are according to God’s standards?

          • In essence, yes. However, it is also protecting life, liberty, and property when it makes laws against murder, rape, and theft. Yes, it is also instituting morality in a way, but that’s not the government’s inherent role, or else there would be laws against gluttony, lying, cheating, and adultery (and eating cows, for that matter, if Hindus were in office).

            In Esther’s case, she was using government to protect the lives of her people, which is inside of my role of government.

          • I understand your point. But then it all boils down to this: how do we determine which are the areas in which we should be actively involved in the government passing legislations that are according to God’s standards and which areas not? For example, the issue of ‘Gay Marriage’ (btw, I have friends who are homosexuals that I love and respect. We agree that we disagree on whether the lifestyle is right or wrong. Just a note: God loves the sinner but hates the sin and so must all Christians, including me), if the government passing a law promoting liberty for the homosexual community, what of a minister or priest who does not want to perform such marriages? So basically my question is: in some cases protecting another’s liberty means disrupting another’s. I haven’t researched this particular issue in much depth, so some insight would be great. And as I understand it, there are some laws that prevent and would punish certain forms of ‘lying’ like falsifying financial reports and cheating in the sense of forming a business cartel as unfair competition or punishes the spouse who cheated on their wives, in the form divorce settlements and its implications. So, basically, it comes down to how you define ‘life’ (after-conception, 1 week, 1 month), ‘liberty’ and ‘property’. Hope to hear your thoughts on this.

          • Easily enough, we apply the issue to the role of government, and that which is within the government’s role to control (not marriage), are those which we must apply our values to.

            In regards to the issue of gay marriage that you bring up, remember that the issue of marriage is entirely confined to who should receive marriage subsidies from the government. Promoting liberty for the homosexual community is to get government out of marriage, not to give it “equality” in an area where the government has no business.

            In terms of a minister or priest who doesn’t want to perform marriages, remember that the government must protect the liberty everyone, not just homosexuals. This means everyone from the Westboro Baptists to Neo-Nazis to Anarchists to You, to Me, to the ministers who don’t want to conduct such marriages, have their right to liberty protected by the government.

            But yeah, this is a fun discussion. 🙂

            Btw, what do you mean by “business cartel”, and “unfair competition”?

          • @disqus_O1NOYSokNH:disqus , @liamsiegler:disqus , and @disqus_sOOdIyWfUn:disqus , thank all three of you for making me think deeper on this topic.

            God bless you three and I all hope y’all have a happy New Year!

          • Hey Thomas, sry for replying back late. Its been a few busy days. I believe we are in agreement. Basically, that the inherent roles of the government that depends on definitions of terms that require a moral standpoint in order to bring about certain legislations, should be our focus to impact, change and reflect more of God’s standards.

            Thanks for shedding some more light on the aspect of the minister and priest as well.

            I hope I didn’t state it wrong. In our language it’s called ‘Kartel Vorming’ (which is Dutch). Which basically means that ‘companies within a certain niche come to some arrangement in order to reduce competition within their market. These kinds of economic cartels are forbidden within Europe. I am unsure if its the same thing in the States. And one of the reasons why I mentioned ‘Unfair Competiton’ is because most of these cartels were formed by the ‘big dogs’ in that niche and thus prohibiting other small companies to enter the market.

            Hope to hear back some feedback from you.

          • I’m not entirely certain what you mean in terms of “arrangement”, but if you’re talking about an Oligopoly, that’s not specifically “unfair competition” unless it’s been mandated by the government (through regulations, subsidies, or licenses), because there’s always the possibility of a new products, and new competition.

            Meaning, there’s no way within a (free) market to prohibit other small companies from entering the market without using the government, because only the government can make such a decree.

      • Good question. You’re basically asking whose authority/beliefs we should stand upon. How do we know what is moral and what is not? Man has many different ideas. I believe that the ultimate authority for what is right or wrong comes from God, in his word. If the Bible is truly inspired by God, what it says about morality is true.

        I don’t understand what you mean by devil’s advocate?

        • Devil’s advocate means that I’m challenging your points even if I don’t necessarily disagree with them. 😉

          So, we believe that morality as described in the Bible comes from God, and therefore it is true. However, there are different interpretations for what is described in the Bible, and some disagree on whether or not the Bible is God’s word. How do we determine who is right or wrong?

          • There are different interpretations. A few I can think of is whether the Bible says miracles have ceased, and whether God made the universe in 6, 24 hour days as described in Genesis. The Bible is very exact in what it says. Some people create interpretations in order to justify something into their framework of beliefs, or life; even though it might not be Biblical. Whether or not the Bible is God’s Word is an argument itself. There are claims in the Bible that it is inspired by God, but using that as means to prove the divinity of the Bible would be circular reasoning. The Bible is a book written over a period of 1,600 years, has 40 or more authors, and has more historical evidence and copies than any other document. Not to mention the amazing unity of it.

            We determine whether or not someone’s interpretations of the Bible is right depending upon what the Bible really says. The Bible is pretty clear when it comes to explaining faith and the Gospel. What’s pretty much disputed and has different interpretations is some of the history. Mainly Genesis.

          • Though, some people disagree on how clear the Bible is. Unitarian Universalists interpret the Bible to say that Jesus isn’t the only way to heaven, that the Bible promotes homosexuality, and that God is a metaphor. From Mormonism to Anglicanism, to Buddhism to Atheism, whichever interpretation of God’s Word is true, and whether or not God’s Word is true, is all a matter of belief—opinion, in other words.

            So, when we say that things should be illegal because they are in our beliefs, immoral, does that necessarily mean it is so?

            No, it is so because God says it is immoral, but if what God says is a matter of belief or interpretation, what criteria do we use to determine which interpretation a government should choose for morality?

            The answer to that is simple: Our own. We oppose these things not because it is conclusively immoral, but instead because we believe it to be so; which was the point I was driving to all along. 🙂

          • That almost sounds post-modern. There is something called objective proof. Something can be true whether one’s opinion differs from it or not.

            God’s word is clear that Jesus is the only way to heaven, that homesexuality is sinful, and that God is a being, who has no beginning nor end. Human philosophy will always be flawed. So when it comes to things like morals, we should trust the Bible (which is very clear on what it says (particularly morals) And I’m sure you agree with that.

            You’re right that with things like the government we have to determine whether it is immoral or not ourselves, but our foundation for deciding should be based on the Bible.

          • We stand on the principle that gay marriage and abortion are immoral because of the Bible. Because we believe the Bible is the written word of God. What about peole in India who belive eating cows is wrong? They got there morality from there “god” as well. they believe there god is the true god. They don’t believe the Bible therefore they don’t have the same morality. Do I believe the Bible? absolutely. Do I believe we should hold others who don’t believe the Bible to the same moral code as us? No.

        • We stand on the principle that gay marriage and abortion are immoral because of the Bible. Because we believe the Bible is the written word of God. What about peole in India who belive eating cows is wrong? They got there morality from there “god” as well. they believe there god is the true god. They don’t believe the Bible therefore they don’t have the same morality. Do I believe the Bible? absolutely. Do I believe we should hold others who don’t believe the Bible to the same moral code as us? No

          • I would agree with that. The people in India have many “gods” This is mainly superstition, they don’t have anything to back them up, as with Christianity it has enormous evidences.

            I don’t see what your objection is to my post.

  • I believe the role of government is to protect those who can not protect themselves, and keep order within a society. So outlawing abortion should be the government’s responsibility, since they need defending, but gay marriage should not be illegal. I don’t think the government should really be involved with marriage at all.

    If we give the government freedom to determine morality, can we be frustrated when it doesn’t agree with us?

    I guess I’m a libertarian 🙂 I’m eager to see what everyone else thinks about this. Good question.

  • One of the things that made the new country of America different that England was the fact that America attempted to separate church and state. Therefore, I don’t think the government should make marriage laws; however abortion is not directly related to the church, so I believe it would be right to make laws concerning that.

  • I think the one word that is most important is “act.” No, we shouldn’t make them ACT like believers, no, we shouldn’t make them ACT like abortion and gay marriage is wrong, but we should make them BELIEVE that abortion and gay marriage is wrong.

  • This is a question I struggled with for years and I’m glad too know I’m not the only one.
    I believe, now, that when it comes to basic human rights, the government should legislate it. Abortion is a great example of is. The right to life is a basic human right that should be enforced.
    Morality issues that Christians base there opinions on from the Bible should not be legislated but government. An example of this is gay marriage. I believe it’s wrong based on what the Bible has to say about it, therefore I don’t believe i should force that upon people who do not believe the Bible. Just like we don’t want Muslims forcing there morality upon us, we should not force ours upon others, whether what we believe is true or not.

    • But doesn’t the Bible specifically say marriage is for one man and one woman? Genesis 2:24 says, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” And in case you want a New Testament verse, Romans 1:26-27 says, “26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:
      27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.” Gay marriage or traditional marriage is not an opinion that once can call gray area. The Bible specifically commands against homosexuality. This being said, shouldn’t we expect Christian law makers to put forth laws that are anti-gay marriage and support them in these laws?

      • That would be nice, but unfortunately the majority of leadership in the US are not Christian/or do not uphold Christian values.

        • True, but I think that legislation can still be passed against abortion and gay marriage despite limited Christian officials. Will it win? Maybe not but when it comes, it is our duty, as Christians, and then Americans, to support laws in favor of prolife and traditional marriage.

      • I do believe that homosexuality is wrong according to what the Bible says. I believe marriage is between one man and one woman. does that mean we hold people who don’t believe that to the same standards as we hold ourselves?

        • If that is what is being passed, then yes. Hypothetically, if a law were being passed that banned gay marriage, would you vote for it? Or would you vote against it because we’re holding unbelievers to “too high of a standard”? Isn’t that what the Rebelution is all about: high standards? Why should we expect unbelievers to not be able to “measure up” to Biblical standards? The Bible is the law for everyone, believer and unbeliever. If the Bible is not allowed to set the standard, who (or what) will?

          • I do agree with you that God will judge everyone according to the same standards. I don’t think that believers are supposed to expect non-believers to measure up to the Bible. (1 Cor. 5:12 “For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge?”) They are intentionally distancing themselves from God and setting their own standards. None of this, however, is to say that we should support legislation to legalize what we believe is wrong. We need to support our position while submitting to our government, even if we disagree with what it says (see Romans 13 and note that the government of the time was not really known for its morality).

  • *I know what I want to say in my mind but getting it out for others to understand is kind of a struggle so, hopefully this makes sense.*
    If we go with the “Should we force non-believers to operate like believers?” question, no, we cannot force unbelievers to operate like believers. However, there are Christians in the government and, as Christians, they should uphold the laws that go along with the Bible. Since there are Christians in the government, we would hope and pray that they are pro-traditional marriage and pro-life because that is what the Bible supports. Through the laws that support pro-traditional marriage and pro-life, the light of the gospel is being spread throughout the country. Now, if unbelievers do not want to follow these laws, they are not going to (thus, the amount of crimes we see in today’s world); to be honest, if there are believers that do not want to follow these laws, they are not going to. No, we cannot “force” unbelievers to operate as believers. However, as Christians, we should support are fellow brothers and sisters in the government who are daily striving to uphold the commands of our Heavenly Father.

  • Legislating morality is like herding cats. While it bodes well for our government to always be on the side of righteousness as we all benefit from it, man cannot change hearts. Only God and His work through us can change hearts. While righteous laws are beneficial, righteous lives have a much greater and lasting impact.

    • Hey Brett, Alex & all… Love in Christ my friends… Tsmeldons analogy is spot on! Along with many others I’ve read here. But…. The question posed,”should we”(Christians) etc…
      Law enforcements motto is, To protect & serve”. Laws are supposed to protect us from,”lawlessness”. Officers “serve” by enforcement of the law.
      Now, with that in mind…. Stop! And ponder the statement. ” WE are a government of the people, by the people and for the people”.
      Who were the “We” that penned this declaration? And, what was their intent? Then… and now?
      The question truly becomes. Who is “we”?
      And subsequently. Who are we? Are we priests, kings and even godlike? Whose authority do “we” represent?
      This may seem a bit convoluted. But you and I cannot answer this query from a cultural perspective. Nor a position of the emasculated identity of christianity. (Lower case c meaning pseudo not legitimate).
      Are we who the Bible says we are? How do we know for sure? Then… What is our responsibility?…What did Jesus do or say? What commands did he give us regarding the matter?
      He chose to live in the time of Roman authoritarian rule, as a Jew… We are a democracy.Is this God ordained?
      George Washington for example is celebrated as a Freemason et al and so on…. (much more to this).
      You want the simple answer? YES! WE, as true followers of Jesus “The Christ” must be “salt and light”. In His authority. In His high calling. The catch is… How “we” implement it… Blessings friends!

    • I agree that while righteous laws are beneficial, righteous lives are a more effective light to the world. But, since we live in a democracy, righteous lives would also result in righteous laws. Christian citizens would strive to hold the government accountable to God’s law, especially because God has established the governing authorities to be His servant for people’s good (Romans 13). Would you agree?
      P.S. (Not so important question) How is righteous legislation for moral humans similar to herding amoral bundles of fur? 🙂 (Just by the way, it’s quite easy to herd two plump cats. 😉

      • Thanks for your comment. I do not think we differ too much in our opinions. If we lived in a perfect world, we could expect that righteous laws might put some pressure on leaders to uphold the law. But we are a society that is not moral. We are a world of sinners that cannot be brought to change outside of a miraculous work of God by His Holy Spirit. Speaking from much experience, laws make people aware of their sin, but it in no way deters it. Blessings!

        • (Sorry for my delay in replying! I’ve been busy with work.)
          Thanks for your reply! I totally agree that our immoral society cannot change apart from God. Would you agree that, when God’s Holy Spirit miraculously works to
          redeem sinners, redeemed people would also legislate Godly laws as they seek to glorify God in all of life? Since God ordains government to be His servant for good, could God give Christians holy ambitions to legislate laws that promote good?

          In addition, why do you think that laws do not deter sin? I totally agree that laws do not redeem people from sin. But could laws deter sinful actions that hurt other people? Someone once stated, “It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me. But it can keep him from
          lynching me.” Moreover, the Great Commandments are to “Love the Lord your God…” and to “Love your neighbor
          as yourself.” In loving the Lord and loving our neighbor, may we legislate morality that reflects the Lord’s law and promotes justice for our neighbor?

          Thanks for keeping up this great discussion. Blessings!

    • Every law ever made has a moral aspect. So what if herding felines is difficult you don’t just bailout of the attempt to improve a society with more justice and integrity just because it is not a flawless system. Of course no one can legislate salvation, that was not the question.

      • You need to re-read my post. I have no problem with good laws being legislated but legislating morality is not going to have one iota of a chance of producing true godliness. We have had moral laws on our books since the beginning of time and look where we are now. I would love a moral law that woul curb sinful behavior. But it is impossible for man’s laws, however good or bad, to change us. We are all sinners. I place the degradation of America’s morality not on incomplete good laws but at the door of the Church. Our churches are imploding with unrighteousness even on our altars. There is so much hypocrisy within the ranks of so-called moral leadership that we have lost our saltiness. We have forsaken our God and turned to idols. I don’t think we need to be examining our moral laws to bring change. We need to all be examining ourselves and our behaviors to see of anyone notices the true Lawmaker that we serve. God honors righteousness and it is impossible to get that from moral legislation.

        Have a blessed New Year.

    • I totally agree it is never us changing lives ourselves, but God changing lives through us. So in reality it is like herding cats.

  • Interesting question, with many ways & points to include,
    My basic idea is that we are to pray for our leaders….

    1 Timothy
    2:1-4I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications,
    prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For
    kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable
    life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in
    the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come
    unto the knowledge of the truth.

    ….Romans 13 ….

    Has a lot to say on it “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God : the powers that be are ordained of God…. (Please read the rest of Romans 13, posting all of it here would just make this too long)
    Notice that is every soul, not just every believer.
    Adam only had 1 rule, & he broke it, so humans are naturally rebellious no matter what the law, so wouldn’t it be best to have something that could at least guide them in God’s way?
    Legislating every little do/don’t would be arduous But the basics of God’s Law could at least give a testimony to the Creator & how to walk His way…
    Lots of good thinking happening in the other answers, with differing points to consider

  • To answer this question you need to ask yourself, “What is morality? Where is the line crossed?” Morality is sometimes subjective. Of course, if you’re a little kid and you steal your sister’s cookie, you KNOW its wrong. It’s put inside of you to know that. However, with bigger issues, such as gay marriage, it becomes more of a complex situation. In Uganda, ten years ago (and still today, in some tribal areas) if you were homosexual, you were killed. Period. End of story. The fact that the individual was a homosexual justified killing him. I am not saying this is good, its in fact very sad. But my point is that maybe where you live and how you were raised, the type of government you’re under and other variables have an effect on your idea of morality.
    Our government should not create laws that legislate morality because, as people, our ideas differ, even if it is in slight ways. I believe our government should not be concerned with cases that have to do with morality.

    • Hey Sadie, just want to challenge your thinking a little bit.

      You say that our government should not be concerned with cases that have to do with morality — but do you think the government should outlaw murder and rape and prosecute people who commit those crimes?

      If so, you support our government being concerned with at least some cases that have to do with morality, since murder and rape are obviously moral issues.

      The question then becomes, which moral issues should the government legislate and which should they not legislate? And perhaps, what type of “moral” legislation is appropriate and what type is not?

      • Dear Sadie and Brett,

        This is my first reply ever on Brett and Alex’s blog, hahaha. But I was fascinated with the question and also with the comments. So here I go:

        I completely agree with Brett’s insight. I am part of an organisation called ATM (Abstain Till Marriage) and apart from visiting schools and helping single or young moms, we encourage the government on our island to come with legislations that support this idea and go against legislations that don’t. So far, abortion remains illegal here and we hope it stays that way.

        As you mention, Sadie, morality should always be objective with an absolute point of reference, which in the Christian worldview is God and His standards. Otherwise, there would be no absolute truths and no basis to differentiate between ‘good’ and ‘evil’. For example, if morality is indeed subjective, then there no real way to justify what the nazi’s did in the holocaust, because in their sense of morality they weren’t doing anything wrong; on the contrary, they believed that they were doing what was right and good for the future. As Brett said, the government is already creating laws based upon morality. Now the question is: what is the point of reference for that morality? I believe as Christians we should promote the biblical standards as that point of reference. Abortion should be illegal and we have to promote it, pray about it and be active in it succeeding. I remember a movie that came out recently called ‘the purge’. I saw the trailer and what horrified me more then the killing was that the government had passed a law that it is permissible to commit any crime for 12 hours I think it was. Murder, theft, and every other kind of crime you can think of. In the trailer there was this psychiatrist who was arguing the benefits of such a law. Imagine if in the future the government wants to come up with such a law and pass it. As Christians we should stand immediately and determinedly against it. If we choose to stand up against such legislations then the opposite should also be done: that we promote the legislation of laws that follow the morality of God and the biblical standards.

        Hope to get any feedback on my thoughts.

        • …absolute truths and … basis to differentiate between ‘good’ and ‘evil’….
          That is the crux of the whole question, well pointed out, Miro.
          The absolute truth is that of the Gospel of Christ. When a society turns from this as a basis, it crumbles into chaos (many examples in History, The Roman Empire is the most quoted) We can’t legislate people into God’s Kingdom, that is the choice of freewill, but we can be “salt & light” as Vic Myers (in his quote above) said.

          We wouldn’t want to do the whole Shari Law thing (Sate Religion), but our laws should reflect God’s standard as He set out in His Word, if we are to “… lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty…” (1Tim 2)

          • Right! I do believe that we need to promote laws that do reflect God’s laws as much as possible, however, these laws shouldn’t be the basis for us living godly lives. The Isrealites had more than 600 laws, but still that didn’t stop them from sinning and deviating from the path and thus bringing destruction upon themselves. Our dependence should be upon the Holy Spirit to produce lives that are according to God’s will; otherwise we will fail every time. Just some more food for thought. 😉 Great discussion!

          • This question has really brought about some great discussion, so good to see everyone thinking about it.
            Thanks for your ideas & insights everyone…

            Yes, true… the law(s) could not save the Jews (or us), but when Jesus arrived, there we many who knew the law(s) enough [some examples, Nicodemus, Anna & Simeon] to see Jesus was the promised Messiah- The fulfilment of God’s promise in the SCRIPTURES & the fulfilment of The LAW

            But there were also many who continued to try living righteously under the law(s) (without Christ) & failed to see the Messiah who was there in front of them. [S(P)aul started out like this, he knew the law(s) but only when confronted with Christ Himself, did he see it all fit together].

            Only through God’s Grace …






            …that we can have our broken (through rebellion) relationship restored with our Creator.

            I agree that Our dependence should be upon the Holy Spirit (…we who are redemmed by Christ)

            But I think that for our laws to be based on God’s Law, for those still separated from Him by sin, [it’s true the Law(s)
            won’t save them] the law(s) can point them in the direction to find Him.

            I’m not saying every little miniscule issue needs
            to be legislated, that only enslaves us all to the Law, but that, as most everyone has pointed out already, the laws of our countries (Aust. & USA) are basically on this to start with, eg don’t murder, steal etc.

            Where issues that are contra to God’s Law, are determined by those who have not Christ as their redeemer, we must be willing to stand up to defend God’s way & as 1 Tim 2 says we are to pray for our
            leaders….if we are to “… lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty…”

      • Hi Brett,
        You did challenge my thinking and I did think about this a lot. I hadn’t realized before how important of a subject this is. But I agree with you, yes, I do support a government concerned with some cases that have to do with morality.

        You and Miro and Al have all put in some insight that cleared some things up for me. Thanks! 🙂

        But I do have one question: Is God moral? This may be slightly off topic but I was wondering this because recently I have been talking with my dad about whether God should be put into our government.
        Yes, there’s “in God we trust” but I don’t think the government bases anything on God anymore. If God is how we decide what is moral and what isn’t, as Christians, then how do we follow government and God as well?

        • Hey Sadie, your question on God and morality is really good. My answer would be yes, not only is God moral but He determines morality. If God was not moral (or if there was no God) then humans would not have any basis for morality, bc we would not know what morality was, it would be an alien concept. There’s a lot more to the answer, but thats my synopsis of it-hope it makes sense:). So because God is the standard of morality, in my opinion, when God’s law and human gov. are opposed to one another, Christians should always stick with God, bc our citizenship is in Heaven (Phillipians 3:20). If you want to get the whole nine yards “I Dont Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist” is a great book that has a chapter on the topic:)

  • So my family lives in Utah, where 97ish% of the population is Mormon (LDS). The LDS religion is a works-based religion – what you do or what you do not do (morality) will get you into the next level of heaven, and hence, morality is strictly regulated. For example, the Mormons do not drink coffee or alcohol. Utah was a dry state (no alcohol was sold) until just a few years ago. This is just one example of how morality has been regulated in the state.

    And it has very poor consequences. Whenever you say “You cannot do that,” for many people that is an invitation to do that very thing. That is what has happened with alcohol here. There are signs everywhere on the highways about not drinking and driving, because even though they are not supposed to (it’s regulated), they do it anyways and try to hide it, causing disastrous consequences.

    And alcohol (no matter what you believe about how much/if at all) is a very small example of legislation of morality. Consider Sharia law in Arab countries as an extreme example. Sharia law attempts to legislate and regulate Islam and, as recent (and not so recent) reports discuss, take this as far as the death penalty.

    As tmselden said, Christ came to bring freedom – but at the same time, He wants us to live lives that reflect His glory and His righteousness. This plays out best not when outwardly we attempt to require Christ-like actions but when Christ works in and through us. (See 2 Corinthians 5:14)

  • Wow, that is a really good question! I haven’t really thought about that with regards to laws. I have heard someone talk about how we shouldn’t expect non-Christians to live by the same standards as us because they don’t know what’s right since they don’t follow the Bible. I guess that sort of makes sense…but when it comes to laws I think some things should be outlawed. Every person has a built-in sense of right and wrong; that’s how God made us. So we all know murder is wrong, and rape and all that stuff. Like Brett said, everyone thinks those things should be illegal. But when it comes to abortion and gay marriage, people think those things have to do with “freedom of choice” and rights rather than morality. No one seems to consider whether they are right or wrong, they just think about whether they will be allowed to do what they want to do.

    So I guess I’m not really sure how to answer. Obviously I think abortion should be completely outlawed, but first we have to show people how wrong it is so they will vote for laws against it. I’m not really sure how to speak against gay marriage because the only reason I can think of as to why it shouldn’t happen is “the Bible says not to.”

    There’s my two cents…hope it’s not too confusing!

    God bless.

    Amanda <3

    • Great to hear your two cents, Amanda! 🙂

      Even people who support abortion and gay marriage make a moral claim about right and wrong: They believe that exercising one’s “freedom of choice” and rights is right.

      Here’s my little two cents…. Legislating moral standards seems to be unavoidable. By definition, laws declare what is right and wrong. Legalizing gay marriage declares that it is right for same-sex couples to raise families; mandating traditional marriage declares that it is right for one father and one mother to raise families. Does that make sense to you?

      In addition, there are tons of rational, non-religious arguments and research that support traditional marriage! The only religious aspect to them would be that they assume that it is morally good for families, the bedrock of society, to flourish. Here’s a link to 10 of those arguments:

      And here’s another link to an article by Dr. Albert Mohler that summarizes the case against homosexual marriage:

      Let me know what you think!
      God bless,
      Kim <3

      • Your 2 cents make a lot more sense than mine lol thanks for sharing! I didn’t know there were other arguments for those things. I’ll have to look into that.

        • Lol your two cents weren’t that bad 🙂 Hope you find the links helpful! There are even more arguments and research that support other biblical principles in law, politics, economics, education, families, etc. Biblical principles make
          excellent public policy! And by “biblical principles,” I don’t mean religious rules like praying five times a day, but rather ethical, wise, and commonsense principles that are summed up one plain, simple rule: Love your neighbor. If you’d like to find more evidence that supports governing nations with biblical
          principles, don’t hesitate to ask me for pointers! I’ve been studying this very issue of legislating morality (so I figured it’d be okay for me to spend time in this discussion :). God bless, Amanda!

  • I believe that government should legislate morality.
    In the days of early Israel, they were ruled solely by God’s authority and were subject only to His direct decrees. When they clamored for want of a physical king, God, through Samuel, warned them of the impending woes such a political figure would bring. Despite God’s cautions, the Israelites would not cease their begging and thus God granted them their wish and ordained a monarch: King Saul. However, even in his place of seemingly supreme authority over the whole of Israel, Saul was still subject to God and was judged, along with the nation, for his disobedience and deviance from God’s ways.
    Thus, it is reasonable to believe that the true role of governmental powers in this world is to encourage the observation of the moral laws laid out by God. If a government rejects this calling and instead turns its attention to endorsing legislations that promote immorality, the entire nation is then eligible for divine judgment.

  • legislating morality won’t work (please see prohibition) so the government should just stick with legislating protection. If an action is actually harming people, the government should outlaw it, but if it is just wrong morally than it is the individuals decision. abortions should be illegal (except for the rare medical reason where both mother and child will likely die if the procedure isn’t carries out), gay mariage is not harmful to those outside of the marriage. Also even if gay marriage were illegal, there would still be committed homosexual couples who were married in every pratical sense, just not legally recognized as such

  • I recently read an article about this question. I’ll post a quote from it here.

    “Laws are motivated by a number of moral concerns, including the protection of life, liberty, and property. Frequently, advocates on both sides of a legal issue, such as capital punishment, support their positions with moral arguments. So the question is really not whether we should legislate morality, but whose morality we will legislate.”

    Simply put, most all laws take a moral stand, just for different sides. Other commenters have said this, but we need to change hearts. Hope this helps!

    • Precisely! The implementation is through transforming darkness to light! And this can only happen through what the Bible calls, “The true gospel of Jesus, The Christ”. Remember trying to legislate morality, ” is like herding cats”. But the true gospel transforms and captivates the heart!
      Legislating morality on the immoral…
      Is like, “putting lipstick on a pig”. Winning the soul by the “true gospel” is acting in obedience to God’s directive. “Go and tell”.
      And as the apostle Paul says, ” preach the good news”. (Gospel)
      However… There is a caveat! (Warning) If the gospel that’s propagated is what the Bible calls a “false gospel”… Then… We are back to “herding cats” again! Only worse!
      Because then you believe/expect the transforming power of God to be evident!
      But are confounded with a plethora of why’s.
      Why can’t I stop? Why am I still angry? Why are we not healed? Why is there such great immorality in people who say they are “saved/born again/believe in Jesus”? Etc.
      There is good reason the Bible says,” let a man examine himself to see IF he be in the Faith”.
      Keep up “the good fight”! And always pray for God’s wisdom… Love to you all. Vic

  • Wow. There are many comments here on this difficult question. First, I think it’s important to go back to the Bible. What does it say (or show) about this?

    It seems to all come back to man’s sin nature. Ever since Adam and Eve ate from that Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil , the entire human race now have that sin nature. Because of this, God created The Law , which was made to show us our need for grace. (Romans 3:20)

    In the Law, it says things like “Do not Kill. Do not Commit Adultery. Do not Covet.”
    Now, at first you might say “The nation should enforce the Ten Commandments.” Well, sure you can enforce “Do not Kill” and “Do not commit adultery”, but we can’t enforce “Do not covet”. And what about Jesus saying “If a man looks at a women with lust, he has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:28)

    So, what’s the answer? What should the government enforce? What should “regular” Christian citizens enforce?

    For “normal” Christian citizens, we must obey the authorities over us, as the Bible teaches, unless they tell us to do something against scripture. We cannot and should not force other citizens to follow a specific set of rules that Christians stand for. However, we have the freedom to do or not do business with anyone we want, to talk or not talk to anyone we wish, etc. We have freedom, and so do they.


    What about Christianity in Government?

    This is both politics and Christianity mixed into one issue.
    So, from reading the Bible, researching politics, and experiencing the effects of political decisions, this is my current opinion , as of December 28th, 2014:

    If someone does one of the following, I humbly suggest that their actions should be against the law and/or should require action against them:
    1. To intentionally physically injure someone,
    2. To encroach on someone or their property,
    3. To engage in an action or lifestyle specifically and clearly forbidden in the Bible,
    4. To knowingly put another human being in danger.
    5. To raise above the Acceptable Level of Risk of putting others in danger.

    First, let me explain the “Acceptable Level of Risk”. The Acceptable Level of Risk can be seen by a someone who sees a man with a gun in his holster. This is within the acceptable level of risk. However, if the man was aiming his gun at you and was about to fire, only a fool would wait until the man shot him, before he tried to stop him. The reason for this, is the man with the gun has crossed the “acceptable level of risk”. Once someone crosses the acceptable level of risk, this should warrant action against them.

    So, with these five main “laws”, I believe a country could be the most successful. But, because of man’s sin nature, no system is perfect and thus, will eventually fail – including this one.

    That is why it is important to realize that Jesus is the most important thing, and that stressing over these things is not the best use of our time, as servants of the One True King. We must do what we can to change the world for the better, but not at the expense of completing our Mission as Christians: Mark 16:15

    • As for #3, what do you think is included in this? Should we make a legal ban on adultery, greed, or idolatry?

      Also, I’m not sure we really have a choice whether or not we interact with those who live sinful lifestyles. (1 Cor. 5:9-10 “I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people—not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world.”)

      I don’t want to seem confrontational, so don’t take what I wrote in that way, and like you said, this is just my opinion. I agree with most of what you’ve said, and would appreciate your response.

      • Hey Karl, thank you for your response!

        What I had meant by #3 is “actions and lifestyles” not “thoughts or feelings” for example: drinking is an action, whereas, greed is a thought/feeling. A lifestyle is pretty much the same action done multiple times so that it is a larger part of what defines a person. Perhaps I was unclear with that. If so, how do you suggest I change the wording?

        You have an awesome day and God bless you!
        – Trent Blake

        • I see what you mean about actions vs thoughts/feelings. Some examples of actions that aren’t Biblical but are still legal are adultery and divorce; do you think these should be outlawed?

          Maybe the point I’m getting at is that I don’t think we, as believers, can expect those who don’t profess to follow God to hold the same standards as we do, as they have rejected the authority of the Bible. (1 Cor. 5:12 “For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge?”)

          • Hey Karl, thanks for staying with me!
            I do see what you’re saying, but I believe that that point of view can easily be taken to the point of “why have any laws?” just as my point of view can give the wrong impression of “we must arrest people for thinking something that’s sinful. (Even though that’s not my intention).
            God bless you, man!
            – Trent Blake

          • I certainly didn’t intend to take my point that far, but I perfectly understand what you mean. In some ways, I’m playing devil’s advocate in my arguments.

            I think that what we need to remember most is what you said at the end of your original comment: that we should do what we can to change the world to be a better place while remembering that the world is inherently sinful and to not make changing it our #1 priority.

          • Hey Karl, thank you for being kind and polite even though we disagree on that one point (number 3).

            But in then end, I totally agree with you in that:

            “I think that what we need to remember most is what you said at the end of your original comment: that we should do what we can to change the world to be a better place while remembering that the world is inherently sinful and to not make changing it our #1 priority.”

            You have an awesome New Year and God bless you!
            – Trent Blake

  • Simply passing laws cannot and will not save individuals. In order for man to be saved, they need to know God and have their hearts changed by Him. I agree with what tmseldon said – man can’t change hearts, only God can.

    While legislating morality will prevent sin (hopefully), this lack of sin cannot save an unbeliever because we are saved by God’s grace, not by our own false sense of righteousness. Even if it were possible to stop sin through human laws, it wouldn’t save anybody unless they came to know Christ.

    But if God opens a doorway through the law for someone to be saved, then it brings life.
    On the other hand, if someone looks at the lawnd because of it hardens their heart to the love of God, walking away from any current or future faith, then the law has brought death.

    Ultimately, the world is sinful and its standards will never even begin to compare to God’s. Therefore, we as Christians must hold ourselves not only to mortal laws (unless, of course, they oppose God), but also to the Lord’s standards, rebelling against the low expectations around us and striving to be like the King.

  • (I didn’t read many of the other comments, so I don’t know if this has already been said, bear with me)

    I know I’ve said this before (and I’ll say it again). If everyone in America got saved we would not need any laws, because true Christians have the law of the lord written on their hearts. You don’t have to worry about any True Christians drinking, doing drugs, murdering, stealing, vandalizing, committing adultery (probably just struck a cord, ohh well), committing fornication, or any other aboniable act. And if any True Christians happen to do one of those things, God deals with them (not us). So what if we put more of our time and energy into evangelism and less in legalism.

  • I think that the Government should not legislate Morality. Of course Governments use Morality to keep peace (Thou shall not murder) But it is not the Government’s Responsiblility to Legislate Morality. Otherwise, Our Government, Which was founded on religous Freedom, Will become Just another Middle eastern Country that has no freedom whatsoever.

    • To clarify, where’s the line between “keeping peace” and legislating morality? Don’t know what the exact terminology you’re using means.

  • I was pleasantly surprised with how the differences of opinion were voiced here. In the past, I have debated people who resorted to name calling and other low blows. But in this post, I – and at least most of the other commentators – were only met with respect and kindness. Just wanted to say “thanks, everyone!”

  • I haven’t read the comments yet, so I can’t plagiarize – if I’m repeating someone, I’m not trying to…
    I think that the government should “legislate morality” so far as it concerns people who don’t have any say in the specific matter… for instance, I believe that the government should not allow gay couples to adopt children, because the children don’t have a choice as to whether they are adopted. However, if the government decides that they will allow gay marriage, I’m not gonna stop them (although I will try to stop people who want to go gay).
    Abortion is another issue. Again, because it involves people who have no say in the matter, I believe that it’s the government’s job to prohibit abortion. I also believe that it’s morally wrong, but that’s not the question here.
    Another issue (which wasn’t addressed here) is other forms of death such as euthanasia. That I believe is morally wrong, but I don’t believe that it’s the government’s job to track that one. The church can choose to do something about that, but the government shouldn’t get involved.
    I don’t think the government has the right to intrude on private lives such as saying that you must read the Bible every day (The US government saying that – that’ll be the day!) but it is charged with keeping the peace, part of which is keeping one individual from infringing on the innate rights of another individual.

  • I read down a while and it was interesting to note that few seemed to address the question of what the government’s job is in the first place. If we are to ask how it ought to perform its duty it would be useful to first define the job itself. For this purpose, I turn to the book of Romans chapter 13, verse 4:”For government is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, because it does not carry the sword for no reason. For government is God’s servant, an avenger that brings wrath on the one who does wrong.” According to the Bible then, our base upon which and according to which we erect our beliefs, the government exists for God to bring wrath upon those who do that which is wrong. If it is “God’s servant”, then we can also deduce that it is to judge according to God’s law, not man’s.

    This brings us nearer the heart of the issue for no sooner can I say this than many will ask, “but can we act upon this and ’force’ our beliefs on others?” I would ask, in return, is there any reason why we must constrain our political actions according to the worldview of another? Additionally and more directly, where in your thoughts is Christ’s lordship? May we operate under Christ’s lordship in private but not in public? In truth, however, none of this truly drives at the heart of the issue. At the heart of this question lies a misunderstanding how our government decides what is or is not moral for the purpose of legislation.

    While I do not believe the culture determines what is and is not moral, the people do determine through their choice of leaders what will be treated as moral or immoral. Take, for example, murder and abortion. Practically everyone in the U.S. agrees that murder is wrong. Consequently, there is no debate in our legislative halls about legalizing murder because this moral is agreed upon. Abortion, however, is not agreed upon. Consequently, there is debate, one side calling it immoral and the other moral. At present, those who find it moral maintain the majority federally and it therefore remains moral in the eyes of the government. In those states where the majority has judged it immoral, it has become illegal. So the “average” will of the people determines what the government does and does not allow. It is therefore not a question of whether or not the government should legislate morals; it will.

    The question is whether or not Christians should interject their voice into the decision making process of which morals will be enforced and the answer to that is a resounding yes. First and foremost, we are bound by Christian duty to advance God’s will as His ambassadors. It is His will that the government punish those who transgress His law. Secondly, however, and this seems to be the primary concern, such actions do not run against our governmental system. As a representative republic, your representatives are designated to represent the will of their people in all matters. If it is your desire that abortion, homosexuality, theft, whatever, be outlawed, then say so! It is your right. This is the way our government was designed. If you win you do so by fair and legal means; there is no injustice. Most importantly, however, win or lose, you do not submit to the will of the pagan who “doesn’t want to be forced to obey ‘your’ morals” rather then submitting to the will of God which commands that we represent His desires to the world. (And remember that if they are “forced” it is because the majority agrees with you; America is not despotic so long as everyone speaks.)

  • While I know that only God can change the person, from the inside out, I’m also realistic enough to know that not all will get saved, and therefore need outward restrains–such as laws and police–otherwise you will have chaos and anarchy, which usually leads to a dictatorship. So, as a Christian, would I legislate morality? Yes! If I were the dictator, (or king–there, that sounds better) I’d make the moral laws (not ceremonial laws) of the Bible the law of the land. Death sentence and all. If you don’t legislate morality (in certain circumstances) then your inaction directly leads to the actions of the wicked prevailing. Abortion, for example.

  • Everything has a moral aspect. Everything you say and do can be seen from a philosophical, moral, theological and ethical view point. Don’t be fooled into thinking that there are non-moral laws and non-moral opinions. Taking a neutral position is quite often the most immoral thing you can do.

    • Yeah! “If you are not for me, you’re against me” says Jesus (I’m not sure where, but that is in the Bible)

  • As Christians we aren’t called to worry about morality, or legislating it. Our job is to follow the Holy Spirit’s calling in our hearts. That has little to do with morality and everything to do with our hearts.
    We can’t force non-Christians to believe what we believe. Our job is to love and to take care of other people. Sometimes that means fighting against abortion or other problems, but the goal is to bring the people to Jesus, not force them to conform to our standards of right and wrong.

    • Be careful about blindly following your heart though, it’s wicked and deceitful above all things (and that’s Biblical). And how will we know what the Holy Spirit says unless we read God’s word in the Bible, which you could call a book of morality?

  • Believe it or not our entire world revolves around morality. And everyone (Christians and non-Christians) believe in some form of moral code. If someone believes in something as simple as RIGHT and WRONG, they have a moral code. And they will live by it. Sadly many think morality is something you chose to believe in and live by. When in all reality you don’t have a choice. The real question to ask is “where does this moral code come from?”… if we knew the answer to this question we would then know how to legislate laws concerning morality. Well the answer is “It all started with the ONE who started it all”. GOD designed government, law, and morality. He also made this world we live in and the people in it. So whether the people chose to accept GOD or not, doesn’t HE have the right and shouldn’t we as Christians strive to create and legislate laws that line up with HIS plan. Thankfully GOD has HIS plan written down for us in the Bible. Boy, am I glad! It takes all the guess work out of lawmaking.

  • I think that we as Christians should use our freedom to push for morality. There is certainly nothing wrong with doing this. Also, although the Bible clearly says that both abortion and same-sex relationships are wrong, I wouldn’t put them in the same boat. Let me clarify. Anyone, Christian or none-Christian, who sees abortion for what it really is has a moral responsibility to fight against it. Killing is wrong and unjust. On the other hand, none-Christians could be open to gay marriage (and issues like that) without necessarily having their consciences bug them. Gay marriage is wrong but not unjust. I am not saying that Christians should fight against abortion and not same-sex marriage. I guess all I’m trying to say is that fighting against abortion is not only a question of morality but of justice and equality (things America claims to stand for), so even if someone could come up with an argument from the Bible against enforcing morality, that would not effect abortion.

          • Thank you for letting me follow you!
            Someone who doesn’t really care about sports! I don’t either. I mean, I’m competitive but I don’t really play any sports… except Ultimate Frisbee once in a while with my friends 🙂
            The Rebelution is a cool website – if you’ve been around here for a week you know that 😀 Glad to have you here!

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