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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Christian Ethics

Image In previous decades, American society generally shared the same values that are currently held by Christians. Sexual promiscuity, moral excesses, and other vices were frowned upon. Even those who engaged in them understood that they were morally wrong, and hid their actions from plain sight. As time has passed, however, societal values have diverged from the Christian norm. Because of this:

  • Many in society have become convinced that the Christian faith is irrelevant and anachronistic. They are not interested in what Christianity has to offer, and consider those who hold to its values as relics from another time.
  • Some in society have become antagonistic toward Christian values. Stands against homosexuality, homosexual marriage, and abortion (as prominent examples) are considered hateful and destructive to society, and what once was accepted by almost everyone as moral and upstanding is now castigated as hateful and intolerant.
  • Some Christians have begun to abandon the values that have characterized the faith, and have embraced instead the ethics of the majority.

The proper response of a Christian to the conflict between the world’s values and traditional Christian values is dependent upon a proper understanding of the origin of our ethic. There are a couple of possibilities. First, that said ethic is merely traditional, a product of society and human attitudes. If that is the case it can hardly be argued that Christians must remain firm in the facing of changing values. If our values have been derived from popular thought, surely it is acceptable to change them to reflect the reality of our times. The second possibility is that the Christian ethic is established by the Almighty God of heaven. As Creator, He would have the authority and position to proclaim what is right and wrong, and Christians of every age would be bound to follow the standards He set.

Anyone who accepts that the Bible is God’s inspired word is logically bound to the second proposition. God has spoken to us, and revealed to us what is right and wrong. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). The word “righteousness” encapsulates ethics, and it is identified and quantified in the Word of God.

There is a reason why faithful Christians hold to the same ethical values as previous generations of the faithful. It is because what was right then (as defined by God) is right now, and what was wrong then (as defined by God) is wrong now. Not only is there no reason to change, there are consequences to abandoning what God says is right and wrong. Consider the following passage, pronouncing woe upon Israel during a time of rebellion against God and His will for them:

“Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, And prudent in their own sight!” (Isaiah 5:20-21).

There is a very clearly established system of right and wrong (God’s righteousness) that currently is in direct conflict with what the world believes is right and wrong. This ethic covers everything, including: sexual behavior, drug use, civil responsibilities, gender roles, tolerance of opposing viewpoints, and a host of other moral questions. As long as society is antagonistic towards this Christian ethic, God’s children will be criticized, and perhaps even persecuted for the values we embrace. The greater the divergence between the two systems of ethics, the greater our conflict will be. This is inevitable, and was as true in the first century as it is today. Jesus said, “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God” (John 3:19-21). In the face of opposition to what God has said is right and wrong, the Christian must stand firm in both practice and proclamation as we declare the righteousness of God.