Legalizing Moral Excellence
Despite the arguments of the previous section, there are those who believe in a “Silent Majority” which has been kept out of power by some sinister conspiracy or secular intellectual elite. If we can get the people to “take back their government” then we can use the government as a positive tool for good.
It is time for a dose of reality. There are limits to what a democratic government can do. These limits are based on a very simple mathematical fact: a democratic government represents the median. Excellence and democracy do not mix.
Forget that there are many different definitions of what is moral. Just pick any yardstick of what constitutes moral and immoral. For any system there are going to be good people and bad people. There are going to be sinners, saints, and people who are just plain average. For a yardstick based on the values of the local culture, we should expect a clustering of people about the average. That is, we would have something like:
Democracy represents the people in the middle. The government represents the immoral as well as the moral. Thus, we can expect the government to be more moral than half the population and more immoral than the other half of the population!
Take a look in your newspaper. Read the history books. My little bit of theory has plenty of validation in real life! Governments do fight crime, but they also commit crime. We have had some saintly people in office (like Jimmy Carter), but we have also had a generous helping of crooks, playboys and consulters of astrologers.
As such, the government is qualified to clean up the worst moral transgressions, but it is not qualified to pull the people as a whole to moral excellence. This has to be the job of the saints. There is no substitute. If you want your children to be good, raise them well; turn off the television sometimes and teach them something; set a good example. If you want other children to be good, get together with other moralists and set up a school; buy some poor children a scholarship to a moral school. Remember, true charity weeds out the selfish; on the other hand, government jobs are valuable to many.
13. Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.
13. Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:
14. Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
This is a fundamentally Christian concept. Jesus describes his path as a narrow one, to be followed by a minority. He called on his followers to be the “salt of the earth.” Salt is a minor component in a stew, but one that makes a big difference in the flavor.
An excessively powerful government not only attacks the criminal; it attacks the strongly moral. A small secular government is a good thing; it allows freedom of religion to flourish. A big secular government mandates a secular society since government is society.
We can see the effects of overly powerful government attacking the moral right now. We have lawsuits against the Boy Scouts because they do not allow homosexual membership. We have public school requirements to teach secular cosmology and biology. The number of places where prayer is allowed is shrinking. We have government funding of promiscuous behavior and abortion. Landlords are under legal requirements to lease to those whom they consider immoral.
Liberty is the true path to morality.