Tuesday, 27 April 2010

some thoughts on the UK election: part 4

This is a reposting of a blog I did about a year ago but this distinction between crime and sin is an important one as we consider the choice of a government. Governments are not required to be holy but they are required to be righteous. We shall need to see the distinction between morals and crime if we are going to make a sober choice of parliamentary candidates.

It was a song from the 1940's and included the lines...
if it's something you enjoy you can be certain that
it's illegal, it's immoral or it makes you fat.
The singer's lament is that whatever they really wanted to do always seemed to fall into one of these three categories. It was perceptive in that it recognised that 'legal' and 'moral' are distinct categories but less perceptive in that it presumed that 'fun' would inevitably be in either one of these categories or another; it reality these categories often overlap.

It is because of the overlap that there is such anger among British folks as I write. Some Members of Parliament have been 'playing the system' or maybe even 'milking' it. It seems that very few will actually have done anything illegal but there is a gathering sense that what they have done is certainly immoral. Few will have broken the law in their far reaching expenses claims but many have breached a hidden law of the conscience that we call morality. Illegal actions should be punished by the state but what about immoral actions?

Polygraph machines, or lie-detectors as they are sometimes called work on a principle that when someone tells a lie the body sets off a kind of moral smoke-alarm. Stresses are created in the inner man that are seen in changes in blood pressure or heart rates. It seems that something in our deepest psyche knows that something is wrong and "sets off the smoke-alarm". Something in the behaviour of our British MPs has set off the smoke-alarm in the public at large. There may be no 'law' that has been broken but we are a 'law unto ourselves', 'the work of law is written in our hearts'. Rom 2:14,15. It has serious implications and not just for the Members of Parliament.

In this same passage in Romans Paul says that 'whoever judges another passes sentence on himself'. Rom 2:1 Some profess to have no conscience and are free from all law but it is a self-deception. If I know that something is wrong when someone steals from me, I also know that something is wrong if I steal from someone else. I cannot assess another's behaviour without acknowledging that in my own behaviour there are things which deserve judgment and justice.

The atheist may say he doesn't believe in God but the real problem is that God doesn't believe in atheists. He knows that he has not left himself without a witness and in some secret part of the consciousness men and women know they are accountable for the way they live. They may make their bold professions of 'freedom from law' but that annoying smoke-alarm keeps going off!