‘We cannot escape the moral and spiritual underpinnings of our law’

Friday, Feb. 17, 2006

Anyone with more than a passing familiarity with the Bible would have identified the inaccuracies in Del. Doyle Niemann’s commentary (‘‘Marriage and God’s will — according to man’s interpretation,” Feb. 10).

It’s almost humorous that a man would use the Bible to justify behavior that the Bible condemns. How can he suggest that God might call homosexuality ‘‘love” when the Bible calls it ‘‘confusion” and ‘‘an abomination”? He denies any responsibility to craft biblically sound policy in one sentence and appeals to the authority of Jesus in the next.

There are two popular moralities today: man-centered and God-centered.

Man-centered morality says that right and wrong, to the extent they exist, can only be defined by each man for himself. If any man does what the majority of us feel is wrong — such as murder or pedophilia — then he is sick. Somehow, we have failed him. He needs our help, never our judgment.

Such concepts as the human soul and spiritual redemption are either old-fashioned or have no bearing on our lives. God is private. Only human wisdom will save us from our broken society. We are all one big family; the greatest virtues are tolerance and equality. The ultimate good lies in everyone doing what is right in his own heart. Anything that divides the human family, such as Jesus’ exclusive claim to salvation, is evil.

God-centered morality says that there is a timeless universal truth, which man did not create and man cannot adjust. Man must look to an external source for guidance because he did not design life nor is he wise enough to write its instruction manual. This morality says that all men are created equal but not all behaviors. God’s love allows us the freedom to make bad choices but shows us the right ones.

When love says ‘‘No”, it is for humanity’s sake. Our rights are only inalienable because God endowed them. For if man were the creator of rights, then man could justifiably remove them. As the Declaration of Independence acknowledges, just law may not be based on cultural trends or even the wisdom of the Founding Fathers but on ‘‘the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God.” If our law doesn’t align with His, our law is false, for His is perfect (Psalms 19:7).

Wouldn’t it make sense that if God were our Loving Father, He would give us laws that matter, laws that protect us? If we made it state policy to disregard our Father, would we be better off? Would your children be better off if they ignored your laws? Such thought chafes my opponents. Life is easier for them when accountability is smothered in the name of tolerance.

So, instead of the biblical depiction of a loving God with a clear universal message, they imagine a milquetoast Jesus with a message so weak and indecipherable that no one can confidently claim to understand it. How convenient.

Consider Del. Niemann’s illogical idea that Mosaic law was not binding civil law. Of course it was binding. It included its own system of justice, complete with judges and priests. In an attempt to discredit man’s ability to understand and enact God’s law, Del. Niemann wrongly states that in Moses’ absence, religious leaders passed laws contrary to God’s will. But no laws were passed; the people were lawless in Moses’ absence. Exodus 32:7-8 states that God was angered because the people turned away from the law and followed their corrupt natures. See? Sometimes the law protects us from corrupt natures, according to Scripture.

The laws of Moses never angered God and Jesus never challenged them. The religious leaders and lawyers of Jesus’ time had stopped paying attention to the law and began living according to traditions.

Jesus revealed their shortcomings, so they hated him. He often clarified the law when challenged, and said his purpose was to fulfill the law, not destroy it and most of his words were quotes from Mosaic law.

Del. Niemann writes, wrongly, that a crowd was engaged in trying and executing a woman for adultery ‘‘when Jesus came on the scene and ordered them to stop.” The truth is that Jesus ordered no such thing. The scribes (lawyers) and Pharisees (religious scholars) brought the adulteress into the temple where Jesus was teaching, asking if they should stone her, in order to trap Him.

His response was to write on the ground and not answer. When pressed on the issue, he quoted the law that the first stoner must be an innocent observer. No one qualified. Afterwards, Jesus did not condemn the woman or the law. He told her to go and sin no more, forgiving the woman and validating the law.

‘‘Judge not lest you be judged” does not mean ‘‘Pass no moral law.” The rest of the statement goes, ‘‘For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.” It was not a prohibition but a warning to be fair.

Some may attempt to invalidate our moral duties by muddling the truth, but don’t be confused. Every law is a moral judgment. We, as a people, have decided that murder is wrong: ‘‘You shall not kill.” We believe the rich should be taxed at a higher rate than the poor: ‘‘To whom much is given, much is required.”

We cannot escape the moral and spiritual underpinnings of our law. God’s laws are love letters to protect us. We should not abandon them.

Donald H. Dwyer Jr., a Republican from Glen Burnie, represents District 31 in the House of Delegates. Caleb Griffin is his legislative aide. Dwyer sponsored legislation backing a constitutional ban on gay marriages that was killed Feb. 9 by the House Judiciary Committee.