Law And Morality
From Australian Topics by LJM Cooray (June 1989)

Recently a pastor informed his congregation that Christians can no longer seek to impose their moral values on a society which does not accept Christianity.

The second part of the statement, at least, is quite wrong. While Church membership and attendance has sharply decreased, the Roy Morgan Study of the Values of the Australian People demonstrates that 80% believe in God.

Should Christians seek to impose their moral values on law and society? There are some who are forcibly and aggressively arguing that Christian values must be expelled from law, society and politics. Gareth Evans (now Senator Evans) is reported in The Sydney Morning Herald, May 7th, 1976, as stating at a convention of the South Australian Council for Civil Liberties that children wanted a right to sexual freedom and education and "protection from the influence of Christianity".

The same article referred to Mr Richard Neville (of Oz fame) as stating that

"promiscuity is one beneficial way of breaking up the family structure, which has led children to become the property of their parents."

If law is not based on morality, on what can it be based? The irony and hypocrisy of those who argue that Christian morality must be exorcised from law and society are that, at the same time, they are arguing for new laws based upon their own particular moral base.

The pastor who made the statement referred to above has been deceived and is blissfully unaware of "the new morality" which the opponents of Christian morality are committed to secular humanism, permissiveness, anti-Christianism, material equality and distributive justice enforced through law.

Christian morality, derived from the Ten Commandments, underlies the common law. Criminal law is based on the Ten Commandments, which also underlie the law of contract and the law of civil wrongs. The common law inherited by the British Colonies on the Australian continent and by the Commonwealth established in 1901, was developed over many centuries by British judges, who reacted to particular human situations on the basis of Christian values.

In an essay entitled "Morals and the Criminal Law," Lord Devlin wrote:

"Society means a community of ideas; without shared ideas on politics morals and ethics, no society can exist. Each one of us has ideas about what is good and what is evil; they cannot be kept private from the society in which we live. If men and women try to create a society in which there is no fundamental agreement about good and evil they will fail; if, having based it on common agreement, the agreement goes, the society will disintegrate.
"For society is not something that is kept together physically; it is held by the invisible bonds of common thought. If the bonds were too far relaxed. the members would drift apart. A common morality is part of the bondage. The bondage is part of the price of society; and mankind, which needs society, must pay its price "—The Philosophy of a Law, ed. R.M. Dworkin, Oxford Press, (1977).

Such a consensus exists in the modern Western community and in the Australian community. A major problem of our times, however, is that elites in politics, society, media, and even in religious organisations, have turned their backs on the traditional conceptions of right and wrong. The laws passed by Parliament have undermined morality.

Some sections of the elites have undermined morality deliberately. Others support ideas and causes which have for them the unintended effect of undermining values which they are committed to.

All this has led to confusion in the minds of many people and is a contributing factor to the moral decadence of this era.

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