Before you say, “I don’t believe.” Chapter 23
From where do you get your moral compass?
Every society and individual needs rules of conduct, but is there an absolute standard of right and wrong? And if so, from where does it come? If not, where is the line drawn between that which is good and that which is evil?
There are those who argue that there is no such thing as evil, but clearly they have never experienced a war zone or stood with the parents of a murdered child, or if they have, they are lacking in simple human compassion and understanding.
Plato, long ago, posed the question, ‘Are actions wrong because they are forbidden, or are they forbidden because they are wrong?’ But he was assuming that there is right and wrong, so again we want to know the source of morality. Philosopher Immanuel Kant argued that absolutes are seen less as God’s commands than as rules that humans understand through reason, to be universally commendable. He argued that there are rules that go beyond our personal preferences so that they become a matter of duty.
However, duty and commands, if not given by an authoritative figure can be changed. To take one compelling example, since Parliament in 1967 legalised abortion in England and Wales, more unborn babies have been aborted than the number of Jews who died in the holocaust. Someone has said that the least safe place to be in the U.K. is in a mother’s womb. There is a dictum that morality consists in causing no harm to anyone. But it is of little value when our own rights are under threat. Situational ethics reflect whims, but do not set a standard of right and wrong. Others have said that virtue or love are the absolutes, but they need defining, and without absolute morality they will be adjusted according to our own desires, as we have seen in legislation in recent decades.
For the Christian, God Himself is the absolute. He is morally good and pure, just and merciful, unable to even sin or speak untruth. He is holy – that is, set apart – and yet approachable. His character has been revealed and reflected in His Commandments. They not only show us what is right, but reveal to us that we are so often wrong. The motive though, is not to send us down a cul de sac of guilt, but to act as a school teacher leading us to Himself and the forgiveness that He offers. A Christian, who has asked Jesus, by His Holy Spirit, to fill their minds and being, has new desires to live for Jesus and follow in His ways. Morality comes from God and is absolute; any other source is shifting sand, reflecting what is convenient for the way we choose to live.
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