Gary W. Summers
If morality were left to mankind to invent, establish, and sustain, it would vary from century to century and from locale to locale, as evidenced by the world we see around us. The slave trade, now regarded as reprehensible, was not abolished in England until 1807 and in the entire British Empire until 1833. In the United States, it took until the end of the Civil War in 1865. According to the Global Estimates of Modern Slavery, nearly 50 million people still live in slavery in various parts of the world. And it is still as wrong today as it was 200 years ago. How do we know that?
How is anyone to decide what is moral and what is not? Left on our own, without the Scriptures, we simply try to arrive at the best rationale we can, but it often lacks valid logic. Even with God’s holy Word, we cannot seem to come to agreement, but the reason for that is that many people in society reject the teachings of the New Testament. Even though moral positions are well thought out (and for our benefit), man chooses to be irrational.
Does refusing to murder others make sense? Yes, and so does not stealing from neighbors. Certainly, we don’t want fellow citizens unjustly taking our lives or filching our possessions. Laws are passed as safeguards. Most civilized countries recognize the evils of slavery—especially when young women are attacked and removed from their homes to be used as sex slaves. No one wants such a destiny for his own daughter—and should not agree to it for anyone else’s offspring. Yet the practice exists.
God’s moral standards do not reflect changeable precepts; they are absolute. It has often been pointed out that God did not give Israel at Sinai “The Ten Suggestions.” Of course, Christians are no longer under the old covenant (Heb. 8:6-7; Col. 2:14), but the morals found in the New Testament are just as absolute as those set forth under the Old. Careful consideration will be given to the issues we face today.
Various Crimes (Sins)
Stealing is the one sin that probably most will agree is wrong. Paul plainly wrote, “Let him who stole steal no more…” (Eph. 4:28). Society, as a whole, rejects stealing, but ask the police how much time they spend on recovering a victin’s possessions once an incident has been reported. The New Testament teaches strongly against the underlying reason for theft—covetousness (Luke 12:15-21; 1 Tim. 6:6-10, 17-19). Riches are deceitful and can choke the Word (Matt. 13:22).
Gambling is a popular form of stealing. “But nobody is forced to participate,” some offer in defense of it, which is true. “And it’s no different than investing or playing the stock market!” Really? Two problems result from this thinking. Jesus endorsed putting the one talent in the bank to draw interest, which was the least the man should have done. So, taking a risk to make more money would have been acceptable.
And how did the five-talent and the two-talent men double their money if they did not put it at risk? Here is the difference: the investor puts his money to work and prays that he and all others will be successful in the venture. The gambler hopes everyone else loses so that he might win. Which attitude sounds more Biblical? Gambling is a zero-sum game, but investment is not. Unfortunately, our society does not recognize God’s absolute standard of morality and encourages all to be willingly robbed.
Murder is against the law, but only about half are solved. Of those arrested, a large percentage “plea it down,” and some are found “not guilty” because some judge suppressed the evidence. And how many of the guilty are put to death each year—as many as one per state? After the Flood, God specifically decreed capital punishment (Gen. 9:5-6); in the New Testament, this duty falls specifically on the civil government (Rom. 13:4), which is failing us badly. It is absolutely moral to put to death murderers. Too many prosecutors refuse to do their jobs.
Abortion is murder. But many of those same individuals who refuse to punish the guilty somehow take great delight in taking the lives of innocent souls who have done nothing wrong. God still recognizes the baby (Greek brephos) in the womb (Luke 1:41, 44) by the same term (brephos) as a child out of the womb, who has been born (Luke 2:12, 16). No one has refuted this argument in 50 years, but such does not stop the advocates of death. How can men and women be so heartless as to kill a living being that medically, scientifically, and Biblically is a human being?
Other Moral Issues
Yes, there have been laws in the history of the United States that forbade fornication, adultery, prostitution, and homosexuality. However, it was argued that we cannot enforce our own personal morality on others—or some such tripe (although it has been done). We observe that, since these have been decriminalized, the percentages of those participating in such immoralities has exploded. God had a reason for outlawing these sins; they are detrimental to the home and to society.
The same can be said for drinking or doing drugs. Many have harmed their own bodies, drinking themselves to death or smoking so much, their lungs give out decades before they would have. The innocent suffer as well; just ask anyone who has lost a loved one to a drunk driver. Many have been affected by second-hand smoke. The latest scourge is fentanyl, which is 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine. Too much (which involves only a small amount) kills. According to the internet, 71,000 people died of fentanyl or fentanyl-related problems in 2021. Illegals crossing our southern border have been responsible for many of these deaths.
A rejection of God involves a repudiation of His morals and principles, and that’s where our society is. Just like those who rejected God in the days of Noah, we are heading that direction again (Gen. 6:5). Do we expect a different outcome this time? Okay, so the weather forecast will change from wet to hot. Destruction will still occur!
Our current condition results from people failing to trust in God. Why do we think He does not know what He is doing? Why do we think we can challenge His moral system? On what basis do we think we will avoid His wrath? Jesus said: “He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day” (John 12:48). That word will not disappear or fade away: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will by no means pass away” (Matt. 24:35).
Very practical advice is given in Ecclesiastes 8:4: “Where the word of a king is, there is power; And who may say to him, ‘What are you doing?’” Some translations have authority for power; others have supreme. The point is the same: “No intelligent person is going to challenge him who has all power.” However, Jesus has all authority (Matt. 28:18), and He is challenged daily, as is the Father. Is that wise? God’s power is supreme, and those who willfully violate it will be judged as worthy of eternal darkness. His will is for us to submit to His will—and be saved (2 Pet. 3:9).