Answers In Action

Moral Relativism: Is It True You Can't Legislate Morality?

By Bob and Gretchen Passantino

Copyright 1992 by Bob and Gretchen Passantino.
"Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil, learn to do good, seek justice, reprove the oppressor; defend the fatherless, plead for the widow" (Isaiah 1:16, 17).

"Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God's minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God's minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. Therefore, you must be subject, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God's ministers attending continually to this very thing. Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor" (Romans 13:1- 7).

"Therefore, submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, or to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men -- as free, yet not using your liberty as a cloak for vice, but as servants of God. Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king" (1 Peter 2:13-17).

The purposes of law:

  1. to show our sinfulness.
  2. to show us a pattern of godly living.
  3. to restrain evil acts.
  4. to promote good acts.

A few biblical examples of believers promoting social morals in non-theocratic societies: Joseph in Egypt; Esther and Mordecai in Xerxes' (Ahasuerus') Persia; Daniel in Babylon; Paul (Acts 22-26).

The difference between utilitarian ethics and deontological ethics: utilitarian ethics says the accomplishment of your goal makes your action good; deontological ethics says your actions are good regardless of their success. Utilitarian ethics are not biblical. Deontological ethics are biblical. Whether or not our actions change society or cause people to commit to God, they are good actions in themselves.

Ways you can be involved today:

  1. Register to vote, learn the ballot candidates and issues, and then vote.
  2. Volunteer for community service (planning commission, arts board, soup kitchen, etc.).
  3. discuss biblical morality with co-workers, neighbors, and friends.
  4. hold elected officials accountable for their actions through questions, support, etc.
  5. talk someone else into registering to vote and then learning and voting.


The Lord's Servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will give them a change of heart leading to a knowledge of the truth
II Timothy 2:24-26


Answers In Action