What’s wrong with making religious civil laws?

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By BibleAsk Team


The issue of forced conversion, or the imposition of Christianity through civil laws or coercion, has been a topic of debate throughout history. While some may argue for the use of state power to enforce religious conformity, the Bible provides clear principles and teachings that speak against such practices.

Biblical Perspective

The Bible opposes the use of force or coercion in matters of faith, highlighting key points with references.

  1. Freedom of Choice and Personal Responsibility
    • The Bible upholds the principle of freedom of choice and individual responsibility in matters of faith. In Joshua 24:15, Joshua declares to the Israelites, “And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve… But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” This passage underscores the importance of voluntary commitment to God, acknowledging the right of individuals to make their own decisions regarding religious beliefs.
    • Forced conversion violates this principle by denying individuals the freedom to choose their own faith and imposing religious beliefs upon them against their will.
  2. True Conversion Comes from the Heart
    • The Bible emphasizes that genuine conversion and faith must come from the heart, motivated by sincere conviction and personal relationship with God. In Romans 10:9-10, the apostle Paul writes, “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”
    • Coerced conversion, enforced through civil laws or external pressure, cannot produce authentic faith or true discipleship. It may lead to superficial adherence to religious practices without genuine conviction or transformation of the heart.
  3. Respect for Human Dignity and Autonomy
    • The Bible teaches the inherent dignity and worth of every human being as created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). This includes the right to freedom of conscience and religious belief. In Romans 14:12, Paul admonishes believers, “So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.” This verse underscores the individual responsibility and autonomy of believers to answer to God for their own choices and actions.
    • Forced conversion undermines human dignity by disregarding individuals’ autonomy and imposing external authority over their religious beliefs. It diminishes the value of genuine faith and undermines the integrity of the Gospel message.
  4. The Example of Jesus and the Apostles
    • Jesus and the apostles modeled a message of love, persuasion, and invitation rather than coercion or force. Jesus’ ministry was characterized by compassion, humility, and a desire to draw people to Himself through love and grace (Matthew 11:28-30).
    • The apostles likewise preached the Gospel with boldness and conviction, but they did not resort to coercion or manipulation to compel others to believe. Instead, they relied on the power of the Holy Spirit and the persuasive proclamation of the Gospel message (Acts 4:31; 2 Corinthians 5:11).
    • The example of Jesus and the apostles demonstrates the importance of respecting individuals’ freedom of choice and allowing the Holy Spirit to work in their hearts to bring about genuine conversion and transformation.
    • Christianity spread by teaching not the sword.
  5. The Kingdom of God is Spiritual, Not Political
    • The Bible teaches that the kingdom of God is a spiritual reality, not a political or earthly kingdom. In John 18:36, Jesus declares, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.”
    • While Christians are called to be salt and light in the world and to engage in societal transformation, the advancement of the kingdom of God does not involve the use of coercive state power or force to impose religious beliefs. It is a kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17).

Historical Perspective

History shows that every time a church worked on legislating religious laws to enforce faith, persecution and murder resulted. The Dark Middle Ages are a proof that forced religion is not God’s way. The Catholic Church used force in the past and will use it again according to Bible prophecy (Revelation 13). https://bibleask.org/who-is-the-beast-of-revelation-13/

Moral and Ethical Perspective

God created Humans with the freedom of choice in matters of conscience. He gave humans the freedom even if they choose to deny Him and be atheists. The Lord permitted Adam and Eve to choose to disobey even though their redemption led to the death of His own Son. Forced worship is not acceptable to God. Forced worship is the devil’s way. God’s way is loving persuasion.

The founding fathers of America established the principle of separation of church and state. By separating church and state, they meant to guarantee that no religious power will have the authority to override the conscience of those who might have a different faith. State-sanctioned churches become puppets of the government. Under such governments, the laws of fallible man take preference over the inspired teachings of Scripture.

It is not secular governments that is sending nations down the road of moral decay; but it is secular hearts! People lose their way because their hearts turn away from God in their everyday life. So, legislating religious laws to enforce faith is not the right answer to sin.

Well-meaning but not biblical Christians, who want to break the wall of separation of church and state in America, will destroy the freedoms that citizens have in America and this will lead to tragic end. But that doesn’t mean that Christians should not teach Christianity in the public domain. On the contrary, Christianity should be taught in the schools, and its principles should govern our Judicial system and life but it should never be forced by law.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the Bible speaks against the use of force or coercion in matters of faith, affirming the principles of freedom of choice, true conversion from the heart, respect for human dignity and autonomy, the example of Jesus and the apostles, and the spiritual nature of the kingdom of God. Forced conversion violates these biblical principles and undermines the integrity of genuine faith and discipleship. As followers of Christ, we are called to proclaim the Gospel with love, humility, and persuasion, trusting in the power of the Holy Spirit to convict hearts and bring about true conversion.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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