Indivisible: Jay Richards on Law, Liberty, and Freedom

See giveaway details to win a free copy of Indivisible!

Indivisible: Restoring Faith, Family, and Freedom Before it's too LateOn the heels of the Fortnight for Freedom, we’re using Independence Day to kick off a new series based upon the New York Times best-seller Indivisible by Dr. Jay Richards and James Robison.

Quite simply, this is the right book at the right time. In Indivisible, Richards and Robison tackle tough moral and political issues facing Christians today, including abortion, stem cell research, marriage, education, economics, health care, the environment, judicial activism, terrorism, free trade and more. Written to appeal to a broad spectrum of believers, Indivisible provides simple, clear arguments that Christians can use to support their beliefs in public settings. You can buy Indivisible from Ignatius Press (with Voting Guidelines for Catholics bonus CD), or see details below to win a FREE copy.

Recently, we had the opportunity to interview Dr. Richards at length. In a wide-ranging discussion, he touched on a broad spectrum of current issues. Initially, we had planned to write a single post. However, the discussion was so good we didn’t want to edit anything out.

Today, it seems appropriate to publish an excerpt in which Dr. Richards discussed the role of law in ensuring liberty.

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The Practicing Catholic: You make a strong argument for the rule of law. Can you address how the law shapes our moral culture and how the rule of law enables long-term prosperity?

Dr. Jay RichardsDr. Richards: There’s a really important kind of dialectical feedback between people’s moral views and the law itself. It’s often said that you can’t legislate morality. That’s really a very strange thing to say; of course we legislate morality. The half-truth there is that you don’t legislate everything in the moral law. That’s why we don’t have laws against lying except when it’s perjury. We don’t have a law against some sort of internal greed unless it’s theft. We don’t have laws against even lust. There are lots of things that are sinful and immoral that we don’t make laws about.

The rule of law itself is an expression of our fundamental moral convictions, and there’s this feedback where the rule of law teaches us something about what’s right and wrong. It’s important to realize, and I think this is where some libertarians get it wrong, that certain things that are inscribed in law remind us of moral truths that we ought otherwise to know.

If you take the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, there’s no doubt that affected people’s perceptions about the goodness or badness of abortion. Same thing would be true if we legalized the smoking of marijuana; people’s perceptions about the morality of that would be different. It’s really important to realize there’s this teaching function of the rule of law.

It’s also important for us to realize that when we’re talking about a free market, and a virtue of the free market is economic freedom, like we talk about in the book. We’re not talking about anarchy where people get to do whatever they want to do. We’re talking about a system in which Lord Acton said, “Liberty is the delicate fruit of a mature civilization.” The idea is unless you have the rule of law in institutions, but also in the hearts of citizens, you’re not going to have a free culture. You’re not going to have a society that can prosper for long.

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Win a copy of Indivisible! You can enter up to three times by doing each of the following:

  1. Comment – What does freedom look like to you? Leave a comment here.
  2. Facebook – Link to this giveaway post and tag The Practicing Catholic Facebook page.
  3. Twitter – Link to this giveaway post and tag @PracticingCath and #IndivisibleGiveaway.

Next Wednesday, July 11, we will randomly select two winners. Giveaway sponsored by The Maximus Group. Good luck, and God Bless America!

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