What Does It Mean To Live In A Secularized State?

After I posted A CONSEQUENCE OF PERVERTED LEADERSHIP (a post on the legalization of same-sex “marriage”), scout defended the legalization of same-sex “marriage.”  Part of his argument involves the following idea.

I advocate trusting God in things spiritual and living under the Constitution in things temporal in the United States. (from here)

Latter he added further clarification.

I have said (I think this is the third time) that when one considers the current debate over same sex marriage, one has to be aware that we are not talking about religious marriages, we are talking about state marriages. The two institutions are, in my mind, completely different, one belonging to the temporal world, the other to the spiritual. (from here)

Can we isolate the temporal from the spiritual? Not according to Jesus. Jesus came to save us from this world. He explained that although the world would reject them (His disciples), the Holy Spirit would strengthen them. In John 14-17, Jesus reassured His disciples that He had already overcome the world (In John 16:33, Jesus specifically says that.). In the last of these three chapters,  John 17, Jesus gave us what is truly The Lord’s Prayer. Here He prayed for Himself, His disciples, and all believers. Here He prayed for our salvation from this world.

So where did  get this notion that our legal system should handle things that are temporal and religious institutions should handle things that are spiritual? I suppose he thinks this dichotomy is a benefit of the secular state. However, is that what we do in practice?

Of the articles I surveyed on the Internet, Morality Has No Place in the Law By Sarah Braasch advanced opinions most like those offered by . However, Braasch wants a separation of Law and morality. She expressed unhappiness because we incorporate our morals into our Laws. Briefly, here is her motivation.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to have to care about my uneducated and ill-informed next door neighbor’s personal, subjective moral opinion about my life choices, and I don’t think I should have to care. No matter how much evidence he thinks he has in support of his personal, subjective moral viewpoint. (from here)

So how does Braasch propose to create legal system that is not based upon morality?

But, how to create a legal/political system, which balances the needs of the individual and society, without resorting to false notions of morality and communitarianism? I think the answer is to create a legal/political system based upon game theory to maximize individual liberty.

The choice of maximizing individual liberty is not arbitrary. And, it isn’t about creating a moral code, which holds liberty in higher esteem than the values of happiness or well being or goodness or utility. It also isn’t about a classical libertarian’s or an anarchist’s liberty fetish. It is about trying to replicate our current form of government without resorting to a relationship with mob rule. Our current majoritarian / counter-majoritarian push-pull is a crude approximation of a legal/political system based upon game theory to maximize individual liberty. (from here)

Game theory? That’s a mathematical theory nobody knows how to apply to politics. What would further complicate implementation is that Braasch wants more from government than liberty. Later in her article she states that in addition to maximizing individual liberty, she wants government to serve as our nanny.  She still wants to force other people to sacrifice their liberty by guaranteeing everyone will have food, clothing, healthcare, an education, security, and safety.

Consider that Braasch is an Atheist, and she considers Christianity merely a foundational myth. Braasch says we have no societal basis for morality. Nonetheless, she wants a government maximizes individual liberty and gives people things, two objectives that are inherently self-contradictory. She admits she has no objective standards for morality. Without a moral basis, we have two questions we cannot answer.

  • How do we define what it means to maximize individual liberty?
  • Why should we care about maximizing individual liberty?

Should we take Braasch seriously? In Questions for Atheists on Having a Standard of MoralityMatt Slick provides a list of 36 questions. Here is the first one.

OBJECTIVE STANDARD Do you have an objective standard of morality by which you can judge whether or not something is morally right or wrong? (continued here)

Could Braasch answer the first question affirmatively? Of course not, and Slick 35 remaining questions make that crystal clear. What could Braasch say? She would most likely insist it does not matter.

Look around the globe. Doesn’t what people believe affect the kind of government they have? In our nation’s past, Americans strove to live as God would have them live. They sought to make choices that Jesus would approve. That’s why we still have a government that seeks maximize individual liberty. Unfortunately, too many of us no longer understand the significance of what Founders accomplished.

So it is that  and Braasch seek a pipe dream. Government has no definition of right or wrong, good or bad. Game theory is not an answer; it is just a tool for finding answers. Because any tool can be abused, even if game theory could be used to design our Law, game theory could not be made to work any better than the people welding it.

Therefore, America’s Law must be a reflection of what we Americans believe. When We The People choose our leaders, through our choice of leaders we must decide what our government considers right or wrong, good or bad. Ultimately, that means that when our government does something wrong (with bad results, of course), we the People have no one to blame except ourselves.

To Be Continued….


  1. Poor Tom. Still struggling to read, but nonetheless able to write at great length. It is an unusual condition.

    Most laws have a moral basis. Perhaps we can find exceptions in dictatorial regimes. But, by and large, here and elsewhere, laws rest on generally accepted moral perceptions.

    Thanks for the link to the post at the start of this short comment thread. I haven’t complained about it, but I did comment on it. This is the second time.


  2. It takes a particularly acute kind of muddled thinking to equate my religiously-based distinctions between secular and spiritual with an atheist’s effort to apply game theory to law. I have no interest in game-theory legislation. I do have an interest in protecting religion against debasement by secular interests. Nothing is quite as disturbing as watching religion get dragged through the public square (as some would have it). Theocratic government can never be democratic unless it is imposed on a population whose theology is entirely uniform. That context exists nowhere in the world, least of all in the United States.

    Law in a pluralistic democracy often intersects with religious principles, even when it is not motivated directly by theocratic instincts. Murder and theft are threats to the order of society and the liberty of individuals. One can find it prudent to legislatively discourage them even without religious instincts, I suppose. Almost all malum in se and malum prohibitum offenses under the laws of democratic societies have some relationship to prohibitions on murder or theft. Thus, atheists gain as much from a secular government that prohibits these crimes (and their variations – e.g., slavery is a variant of both murder and theft), as do Muslims, Christians. and Buddhists.


  3. Timely article on the subject of religious mortality,.which in my opinion is the core reason for many of the problems we now are facing in our American society. For example, rampant shootings and murders in Chicago at the same time our foolish courts forbid the Ten Commandments be taught in our schools. Thou shalt not kill. King Solomon would be spinning in his grave if he had to listen to today’s news reports.

    Looking forward to your next post on this subject..

    Regards and good will blogging.


    1. When we do not make sufficient effort to make our Laws morally good, our Laws do not help to make our society ordering. Bereft of a moral foundation, Laws affirm self indulgence. Self indulgence leads to social chaos, a society of children where no one is responsible, not even for their own behavior.

      Thank you for you comment.


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