ANSWERING FOLLY: DECLINING MORAL STANDARDS — PART 4

Rembrandt - Moses with the Ten Commandments
RembrandtMoses with the Ten Commandments

When we discuss declining moral standards, what does that entail?  That is the subject of this post.

An Example Of A Decline In Moral Standards

For an example, let’s use a story in the news.

Florist refuses attorney general’s options to settle lawsuit over same-sex weddings

– The Washington Times – Sunday, February 22, 2015

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson has offered florist Barronelle Stutzman a deal: She can cater to same-sex weddings or she can stop doing weddings altogether.

Of course, there’s always a third option: She can go out of business.

Ms. Stutzman, the 70-year-old owner of Arlene’s Flowers in Richland, Washington, is opting for none of the above.

“Your offer reveals that you don’t really understand me or what this conflict is all about,” Ms. Stutzman said in a letter to Mr. Ferguson. “It’s about freedom, not money. I certainly don’t relish the idea of losing my business, my home, and everything else that your lawsuit threatens to take from my family, but my freedom to honor God in doing what I do best is more important.”

Ms. Stutzman rejected Friday a settlement agreement offered by Mr. Ferguson that would have required her to pay $2,001 in damages and legal fees after a judge ruled last week that she violated state law by declining to provide services for a same-sex wedding. (continued here)

The Bible clearly condemns homosexuality (see here and here).

No, the Bible’s view of homosexuality is not politically correct.  Society says that there is nothing wrong with two people “just loving each other.”  They ask who are we Christians to judge them?  But, we ask who are they to say what is morally right and wrong?  Do they have an objective standard of morals that all people should follow?  No, they don’t.  They appeal to things like “society” and “common sense” and “basic rights,” to promote their opinion of homosexual normality.  The problem is that societies have been wrong before (Nazi Germany, anyone?).  What is common sense to one person isn’t necessarily common sense to another.  And, basic rights?  Well, we all have basic rights.  But, the homosexuals want special rights.  They want laws passed to protect their sexual behavior. They also want to redefine marriage and have everyone else to accept it. (from here)

What does the lady have to say for herself?  Fox News interviewed her (here).

Barronelle Stutzman, a Washington State florist who declined to provide flowers for a gay wedding, has rejected a deal by the attorney general’s office that would’ve forced her to betray her religious beliefs – much like Judas betrayed Jesus.

“You are asking me to walk in the way of a well-known betrayer, one who sold something of infinite worth for 30 pieces of silver,” Stutzman wrote in a letter to state Attorney General Bob Ferguson. “That is something I will not do.” (from here)

The lady is a florist. She doesn’t hate homosexuals, and she did not harm anyone. She even recommended other florists to the “happy couple,” and they got their indispensable flowers. So what is her crime? Her “crime” is she that refused to participate in any actions that endorsed “same-sex marriage.” Therefore, the State Attorney General Bob Ferguson intends to use the power of government to bully her into submission.

Think about the meaning of freedom of conscience and how that relates to freedom of religion. If we do not have the right to run our own lives in ways that does not violate our own conscience, what difference does it make if our government supposedly recognizes our freedom to worship as we see fit? If we have to live by someone else’s beliefs, of what relevance are our own beliefs? Yet under the guise of preventing “discrimination,” government officials now want to serve as our consciences. You want to do business? Then you must abide by the government’s mandated moral standards.

Would we make government our god, that is, violate the 1st Commandment? Do we really want to live in a country where we set moral standards as low as they can go? Well, if we are going let politicians set our moral standards, then we must expect our moral standards to decline to the point where we have no standards. Then we will just have bullies telling the rest of us what we need to do to please them.

What Are Christian Moral Standards? 

When we discuss the decline in moral standards, we must discuss that decline relative to some fixed standard. Because we have a Christian heritage, we largely discuss the decline of America’s moral standards relative to what we call Christian standards. When we use Christian moral standards, that presents what many no doubt will think a curious dilemma. Christianity does not involve following rules. Therefore, when we discuss Christian moral standards, we cannot precisely say what those standards might be.

According to the Bible, man cannot define on his own what is good. Consider how Jesus responded to a question.

Luke 18:18-20 New King James Version (NKJV)

18 Now a certain ruler asked Him, saying, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”

19 So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. 20 You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not bear false witness,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother.’ ”

Only God is good. As the Apostle Paul made abundantly clear in Romans 3:9-20, “There is no one who is righteous.” Therefore, to know what is good, we must turn to God.

The Christian gospel, contrary to such religion and morality, asserts these three monotheistic premises:

(1) “Good” exists only in God.
(2) “Good” is knowable only as God reveals Himself.
(3) “Good” is do-able only as the character of God is activated and expressed in human behavior by the grace of God.

(from here)

What then is sin? What defines sin is revealed by the Law.

Romans 3:19-20 Good News Translation (GNT)

19 Now we know that everything in the Law applies to those who live under the Law, in order to stop all human excuses and bring the whole world under God’s judgment. 20 For no one is put right in God’s sight by doing what the Law requires; what the Law does is to make us know that we have sinned.

When God gives us rules and we disobey those rules, our disobedience reveals our sinful nature. The core of the Law God gave the Hebrews is the Ten Commandments (expressed in Exodus 20:1-17 and again in Deuteronomy 5:1-22).

Please observe that the Ten Commandments actually restrict us very little. Even the 4th Commandment, the only one that required the Hebrews to do something just required them to take a day off once a week.

The truth is that the curtness of the Commandments is an evidence, not of the gloom and narrowness of a religion but of its liberality and humanity. It is shorter to state the things forbidden than the things permitted precisely because most things are permitted and only a few things are forbidden. — G. K. Chesterton (from Negative and Positive Morality)

God did not even intend the Mosaic Code to be a great burden upon the Hebrews. The dietary laws, for example, provided the Hebrews a healthy diet. God did not ask the Hebrews to punish themselves in His name; He asked them to celebrate in His name and to look forward to a savior.

Unfortunately, the Law only reveals our sinful nature; the Law does not provide the means for us to overcome that nature. Fortunately, Jesus provides us the means. As He told Nicodemis (John 3:1-21), we must be born again; it is that rebirth in Christ that makes us followers of Christ.

Because the Bible tells us to love others as we love ourselves, we know that it is good to treat others as we wish to be treated. Hence, when we allow Christ to act through us in love and treat others as we wish to be treated, we do what is good.

Romans 8:9-11 New King James Version (NKJV)

But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. 10 And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.

Those who have been born again strive for a higher standard. They try to live in accordance with the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). The problem is that we cannot achieve such a high standard.

Being righteous doesn’t mean you never sin; it means you confess your sin to the Lord, repent of it, and despise it. First John 2:3 says, “By this we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.” In John 14:15 Christ said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” First John 2:9 says, “He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now.” First John 3:9 says, “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him, and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.”

The Bible makes it clear that those who are genuinely saved are righteous and holy. They still sin, but with decreasing frequency. A true believer hates his sin (cf., Rom. 7:15-25) and repents of it, hungering and thirsting for what is right. (from here)

With respect to moral standards, what then distinguishes the born again Christian? The born again Christian tries to behave as Christ would behave. When a born again Christian sins, violates one of the Ten Commandments, for example, he eventually repents and seek forgiveness.

Because America has a Christian heritage, many Americans respect the teachings of Jesus Christ and regard sin in much the same way as born again Christians. Some, however, sin shamelessly. Because these people refuse to see anything wrong in their conduct, they sin and they don’t repent.

Because the Law is visible and concrete, Christians hold each other to the standard set by the prohibitions in the Bible, particularly the Ten Commandments. We hope to see the fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) in other Christians, but sins that violate the Ten Commandments set off alarm bells. When an unbeliever commit sins that violate the Ten Commandments, we also look for remorse, but sometimes there is none. When more and people sin and call their sins good, that indicates a decline in moral standards.

Other News Articles

Note1:

  1. The post is part 4 in the ANSWERING FOLLY series. To find other posts in the series, just click on the link.
  2. At about 9:10 PM, I decided to put what I think most folks will consider the more interesting and controversial section of this post up front. Hopefully, reading that section will help to entice people to read the rest.

9 thoughts on “ANSWERING FOLLY: DECLINING MORAL STANDARDS — PART 4

  1. Well said. In the context of America, I often think of that phrase, “endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights.” Why is it so important for us to be endowed by our Creator rather then our government? Because when we hand that power over to our government, we then hand them the power to revoke those rights, too. Government does not determine our morality, it does not grant us with our rights, and this is a good thing. History is full of examples of why one might prefer to be endowed by their Creator rather than their government. Even a non believer should be able to see the value there.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Some nonbelievers see the value and some don’t.

      What led Thomas Paine to write the “Age of Reason” was the godlessness of the Reign of Terror in France. We, unfortunately, have lots of people who have adopted the same ideas that led to the Reign of Terror. These people think they can create some sort of Utopian system that will solve all our problems. What they cannot seem to grasp is that the closest thing to Utopia is a government that protects our neighbor’s rights, not one that runs his life.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post and I agree with insanitybytes22 –Government does not determine our morality, it does not grant us with our rights, and this is a good thing.

    Liked by 1 person

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