Posts Tagged ‘morality’

God Defines Morality

Posted: June 17, 2010 by graysutanto in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

There is a single Christian explanation for the nature and status of morality. I will attempt to explain this Christian perspective, explicate some arguments in defense of it and finally explain how it may be applied. According to the Christian, morality is grounded in God’s very character as revealed in the Holy Bible. The moral laws are not something outside of Him or irrelevant to Him. Instead they are derived from His very being. God’s holy character is the source of the objective moral standard. Therefore we should judge whether or not a state of affairs is morally significant according to what is contrary or complimentary to the character of God. This is why many testimonies of Scripture affirm that Christians are to be imitators of God as He defines rightness. Hence, ultimately the good moral life depends on an obedience to the Holy Bible.

God’s moral standards are never arbitrary for they are all consistent with his own Character. As God is the standard for righteousness, it is an ontological necessity that whatever He wills or decrees must be the very essence or what is right. Hence because He is the standard, we must submit to His will even when His decrees may seem contrary to what we know about righteousness. Anything that is opposite to His nature must be considered as abhorrent. Since Scripture is the way through which God had chosen to reveal Himself to us, knowledge of His nature and character can only be learned through a proper understanding of Scripture.  God’s very being determines the nature of morality and it is also God’s very being that determines how things ought to be. Euthyphro should not have had a dilemma; God commands what is right and what is right is determined by God’s commands, He necessarily does both.

According to the Christian, being made in the image of God is the source of our moral intuitions. Though our moral intuitions have been distorted by the fall, one does not have to be a Christian to have some knowledge of what is right or what is wrong. Being made in the image of God also entails man’s moral standing, giving an explanation and justification of our deep intuitive beliefs that all men should attain a higher moral standing than animals and that all men are equal. It is on the basis of this doctrine that we should care for others, seeking to alleviate suffering for each person reflects their Creator. Hence, to purposely harm a fellow human being would be to desecrate God himself.

The good, as defined by the bible is based upon what is pleasing to God and that whatever is not done in faith on God is considered a sin (Rom 14:23) It follows from this that non-believers are constantly living and breathing in wrong doing. Some may object that this is counter-intuitive because surely there are exemplars of good deeds seen in non-believers. In response to this, the Christian would not deny that in the sights of men, there have been a lot of good non-believers. In fact, the Christian would argue that there are a lot of things from virtuous non-believers that believers could learn from. The Christian will also admit that much of these deeds may be things which God commands; and of good use both to themselves and others. Nonetheless, the good works of these men in the sight of a holy God is nothing but an abomination for they do not acknowledge God for their gifts, and neither do they have the glory of the true God as foundation or end in mind.

An understanding of the Biblical or Christian perspective of ethics implies that God’s moral standards, when rightly understood or applied are for all people, transcends all cultures. Hence, observing His commands would be what was best for all humans universally as He is the universal Creator. Observance of His commands does not necessarily mean obeying all of Scripture. There are straightforward instructions in the bible that directly applies to the present times such as the New Testament letters of Paul but much of Scripture is context-dependent and thus not all commands in Scripture apply to the present times. Therefore, according to the Christian perspective, to improve one’s morality one would need to make a commitment to a lifelong study of the Bible.

In conclusion, I have tried to explain the single Christian perspective for the nature and status of morality. I have also raised some arguments that a Christian might use in defense of this explanation and have tried to show some further implications of this doctrine.