Sound Teaching

This is the teaching site of the West Side church of Christ in Fort Worth, TX. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials were written and prepared by Stan Cox

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Your Morals – Or Mine?

inthenews[The following opinion piece, (edited for space) which appeared in the Arizona Daily Wildcat, written by columnist Matt Stone, establishes a typical flawed view of morality.]

Moralism represents the self-understanding of what constitutes decent and indecent behavior – each person one’s own judge and seeking respect in the appraisal of others.

Of course, the perception of “decent” or “indecent” behavior is fluid, allowing open-endedness for society to shape its own moral code: Whereas we abhor polygamy today, it was yawningly normal for Moses to have multiple wives. Dynamism, self-respect and the dignity of the individual are the cardinal tenets of moralism.

Morals are the troglodyte brethren of moralism. Morals – “Thou shall not …” – immediately take on the haughtiness of unthinking self-righteousness. But a moral itself is not inherently wrong because it is categorical: Murder, rape and theft are rightly considered immoral acts by a vast majority of humans worldwide.

But therein lies the rub. Morals derive their sanction from the popular (and often unquestioned) support of society. Moralism gives that society the opportunity to decide what is moral and immoral through flourishing debate, begotten by a populace who consciously desire the betterment of society.

It seems that America’s Christian conservatives have forgotten this tenet – that which they held dear for so long.

For years, the Christian conservative movement admirably sought the improvement of society on the moral front (and thereby, the spiritual front). They pursued a reduction of sex and violence in the mass media, they took aim at pornography, they promoted charity toward the homeless, orphans, refugees, etc.

Christian conservatives were instrumental in using American clout to resolve the Sudanese civil war. Of all things, Christian conservatives were pushing moralism. They were pushing people to live decently, absent overt violence, sex, war and poverty.

But something happened in 2000 that surprised the Christian conservatives as much as the rest of America: The White House was suddenly a close ally. Power, power, power, and how sweet it would be if the Christian conservative movement had used it appropriately.

Instead of promoting moralism in America, Christian conservatives turned to legislating specific “morals.” These are often outside the realm of overwhelming popular support, thereby making their “moral” authority circumspect.

When an issue is too cloudy to declare moral or immoral – abortion and gay marriage come to mind – government should keep its invasive paws off and let the people live their lives without the meddling of Washington. Morality is not dictated by law. Morality cannot be dictated by law.

Analysis:

In reality, morals are not determined by the popular (and often unquestioned) support of society. Morality is established by God. It is unchanging and the rightness and wrongness of an act is wholly independent of its morality. This is a point acknowledged by the writer with regard to three actions (Murder, rape and theft), but denied with regard to other questions.

Who says that issues such as abortion and gay marriage are too “cloudy” to declare immoral? In reality, the issue is clear, it is simply that men are unwilling to submit to God’s standard in these areas. Whenever men do what seems “right in their own eyes”, God brings judgment (cf.-The flood).

Morality is dictated by law, the Law of God. And, in times past U.S. law recognized the divine origin of our ethic. Of course we can dictate morality by law (example: Murder). We do it all the time. The problem is that our society no longer desires to follow the laws of God, and has become evil and unrighteous in thoughts and actions!