What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace might increase? – Rom 6:1 (NAS)
Morality is a very difficult issue in our culture. We have the legalists, relativists, ideologists, eclectics and a host of other philosophical elements that touch the nature of morality and ethics.
Obviously the key to this is your starting point. The world may have several different starting points but the general starting point for deciding on what is right and wrong is themselves. How I feel about something is often the sole determination of what is true for me. The other factor is the element of how utilitarian something is (in other words how useful it functions). Most ethical systems are very relative even to the point that people will have certain “rules” they think everyone else should abide by but exempt themselves from that same “rule”. It is a way to contain others under restrictions or rules that an individual creates for their own advantage but see no need to abide by it themselves.
For the Christian morality is much more objective, absolute and abiding.
Morality is objective – The simple fact is that God and His righteousness is the standard for our morality and ethics. We do not determine morality for ourselves, we adopt His standard of right and wrong based on the character and righteousness of God Himself. In this sense morality is not subjective; it does not rely on how I feel about what is right and wrong but it is (objectively) based on something outside of ourselves.
Secondly, it is absolute – Christians do not have the luxury or freedom to decide their own morality. The claim of the Bible is that God is absolute, eternal and completely self-sustaining. Because God is the “same today, yesterday and forever” then morality (or right and wrong) is based on His unchanging character not the constantly changing cultures that we live in.
Thirdly, morality is abiding – because God is unchanging then morality is unchanging. The other reason for this is that while culture is constantly in flux and changing it is also deteriorating. What I mean is that there is constant slippage, especially regarding morality, because there will always be those who will kick back against whatever the law is now to accommodate new experiences and feelings about what exists already. But it is abiding because the same God that is written about in the Old Testament, many thousands of years ago, is the same God who is alive and well today. God’s character does not change so morality does not change.
This does not eliminate how we feel about things but it does limit morality to the character of God. How we feel about something may be contrary to how God sees the same thing. If there is an attitude, action or behavior that does not match God’s standard of righteousness then I need to learn to go with my faith in trusting that God knows better about this issues than how I feel about the same situation.
Romans 6:1 reminds us that there is an expectation from God that there is a real sense of “sin” or “missing the mark” of God’s standard but we need to go with God’s ideas and morality not our own.
Pastor Brad Little