Moral Knowledge
Saturday, October 30, 2010

 

“For God knows that when you eat of [the fruit from tree of the knowledge of good and evil] your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”  (Gen. 3:5)

 

                I have been struggling all week with the thoughts I am about to convey.  My struggle is two-fold.  First, I know that moral knowledge defined by humans is the original sin and I need to tread carefully in avoiding my opinions on such matters, and the other is the practical reality that modern Christians (maybe even some of my readers) do not like it when theologians venture down the pathway of morality.  Having said that, events of recent days have compelled me to write on the subject.  So here I go into no-man’s (no-person’s) land.

 

                Listening to radio or watching television news or attending an academic class brings us to believe that moral knowledge is not something we can rightfully agree upon because (if you believe what they say) morality is an individual thing.  We cannot know what is good and what is evil.  Of course, in their minds, there is an absolute evil and that evil is saying what is good and what is evil.  On that issue they will not compromise.   However, going down that road leads us to dilemmas which tangle modern culture to the point of chaos.  When we do not have a foundation of moral knowledge, then sadly there is no consensus of good and evil, right and wrong.  There is no basis for either justice or mercy.  For if all is acceptable justice has no foundation and mercy has no purpose.  So the modern solution, where moral knowledge is not acceptable, the only basis by which we can mete out justice is to have a common consensus of what is right or wrong based on what the community defines as good and evil.  That is why moral standards change.  As the community warps into sinful behavior, it must redefine sin (moral wrong in this case) or classify themselves as sinners (which it will not do).  That is why we have totally reframed the moral arguments dealing with sexuality, human life, and other very sensitive topics.

 

                Sexual sin is not a new thing.  It goes back to the earliest stages of human development.  What is new is that we are now constantly redefining what constitutes sexual sin.  When I was a youth, sexual sin was pretty well defined.  Good sex took place between a male and female in the state of holy matrimony.  All other sex was sin.  That simple definition (Jesus’ own) eliminated a world of controversy.  Yes on one hand it called violators “sinners.”  But on the other hand, it eliminated controversy about homosexual behavior, sex outside of marriage, divorce, abortion, living together, bi-sexuality, beastiality, and on and on.  But you see, the community wants to indulge in those things, so we desire to throw out the moral knowledge which calls members sinners and adopt a new morality which allows everyone to do what feels good (regardless of the final destruction of person and community). 

 

                Of course, because sexuality is such a driving force in human behavior, it is easy to see what happens when we throw out the biblical definitions.  However, there are other areas of moral knowledge which are more subtle.  Life itself, when it begins, whose responsible for its outcome, who has the right to terminate, when does it become invaluable, when is it dispensable, what protections should be afforded it, does it have intrinsic value, or is all life (from amoeba to snail darter to eagles to unborn to youth or the elderly) equal, presents questions whereby the basic moral knowledge has been tossed out and now the community is forced to struggle with such questions.    There is a basic moral knowledge in Scripture which allows us to clearly avoid such dilemmas, but again the community desires to be God and make its own determination of good and evil, right and wrong.

 

                The moral knowledge concerning human life in Scripture is not fraught with dilemmas.  Humans are created in the image of God; God has said that taking that life without due cause (murder) must be punished by termination of life of the perpetrator “because in the image of God, God made man.”  You see, that basic moral knowledge defines the dignity of humanity, the preciousness of life to God, our position in relation to snail darters and monkeys, when life begins, and by whose (Whose) authority can it end.  Therefore, practical issues of capital punishment, abortion on demand, animal rights, euthanasia, infanticide, genocide, are all answered.  The problem is the community wants to be able to abort babies (murder), play God in protecting species, kill off the useless, collect embryos for scientific purposes, and on and on go the struggles because the community wants to define what is right and wrong, good and evil instead of allowing God.

 

                Now, here comes the tough part.  Whose moral knowledge is the right moral knowledge?  Is it the moral knowledge of Christianity or Islam or Buddhism or Hinduism or Mormonism or indeed is community the only viable foundation of moral knowledge.  The only way to answer this is to be honest and objective of which of the religions and/or no-religions contain truth.  I would challenge every person who does not have that answer to read two books – one the Bible, and the other is a more modern exploration of truth by Dallas Willard called “Knowing Christ Today.”  Both books will give every skeptic a powerful foundation for knowing truth and thus being able to accept that issues of morality (moral knowledge) have a foundation of truth given by God.  And that truth has a beautiful and wonderful foundation:  loving God and loving one another.  And then Christ goes on to demonstrate the power of that love.

 

                Today, we struggle with a great many moral issues.  And the reason for struggle is because we have no foundation for what is right and wrong.  We have wanted a set of rules that allow us to do what we want to do and not be held to a definition of what is good and what is not.  Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Lenin, Idi Amin, and modern proponents of abortion are all products of this struggle.  And the result is the wanton slaughter of humanity while we have made headway in preserving eagles, grizzly bears and snail darters.  The results are human sexuality that is destroying persons, families and communities in the name of sexual freedom.  The results are debates and laws dealing with destructive drugs and the legalization thereof.  The results have been saving the air we breathe and convincing humanity they have no eternal soul, making life on earth more pleasant and eternity hell.  We need Christ and the body of moral knowledge founded on love of God and loving one another.  There is much He had to say and foundations based on Him, His own love of God, and His own demonstrated love of humanity, and His teachings could bring us back to sanity.

                 Solutions must begin in the true Church -- the Church that embraces Christ and Him crucified; the Church that is unashamed to dispense grace as Christ did, while at the same time holding firmly to teaching members to obey everything Christ taught us.  You see, if the Church would unashamedly become the Church again, the community would right itself, and the dilemmas would go away.

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