My heart became hot within me. As I mused, the fire burned; then I spoke with my tongue: "O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am!"

28 March 2006

Morality without God

This letter to the editor was in our local paper today, and I think it's one the church needs to hear and find a good answer for. It's an honest letter and one which cuts to the heart of how Scripturally we view people.

How would you respond to this man? I'll try to put some thoughts down tomorrow, but I'd like to hear how you might talk to him.


Some people have this strange misconception that if one lacks religious faith then he or she also lacks a moral compass. Those who believe that should consider this.

One's faith in and love for God should not be the only reason that they live as a moral person. There are benefits and costs directly related to our actions right here in the objective world we know. I am a moral person in a loving and faithful marriage. I have countless friends and no known enemies. I work a full-time job. I even get along great with my mother-in-law.

Yet, I can't remember the last time I considered God when making a decision. As an agnostic, I do not feel conflicted within myself, I am not "lost," I do not lie, cheat, or steal simply because I am unsure about the existence of God.

Those who are religious can certainly use their faith as motivation and their God as inspiration, but they should not assume that morality is limited to those of us who share their views.

4 comments:

SaraY said...

It sounds like this person's morality comes entirely from within. In light of every heart being desparately wicked, this can go wrong very easily! I don't know exactly how I would approach this man, but I would definitely point out how his moral compass could be prone to wavering. What does he do with the gray areas when there is no standard to measure himself against? How can anything be "good" or "bad" if there is no standard?
This makes me extremely grateful for the word of God. Yes, the "rules" of the Bible are liberty!

Dad O said...

Over the years I have met lots of unbelievers who are sacrificial, committed to their families and communities, faithful to their spouses, don't swear, don't drink to excess, etc., etc. In fact, if truth be known, if you stacked them up against the average Christian, they would look pretty good as far as outward appearances go...in fact, in their own way, they would look pretty religious!

Christianity isn't about outward appearances. It's about the new creation within. No matter how good we look on the outside, we can never be anything but "whitewashed sepulchres" if God hasn't regenerated us.

It's true that the Christian's every thought and action should be captive to the will of our Saviour and that the world IS watching us. But it's also true that we recognize that we will stumble and fall and that we have a heavenly Father who is faithful and just to forgive our sins.

So I guess my response to the gentleman who wrote the letter is yes, those who have a faith and love for God are not the only ones who may have a moral compass. My only questions is this: without God, ultimately, in what direction is this gentleman's moral compass pointing?

Anonymous said...

I'd also direct a very pointed question to this man as to where he thinks his "moral compass" comes from, if not from God Himself, and if he submits to this compass in his life, why does he not take the next step to acknowledge its source and submit to that source? -Justin

Alicia said...

I agree with "Dad O", and was considering how people on earth can do nice things and doact in ways that are not blatantly evil or violent, be kind, hold a job, etc because all people are made in the image of God. Though slaves to sin, people can and do act in moral ways. The actions are essentially shallow, but they are actions nonetheless. The moral standard they act on comes from God, of course, even if someone like this man won't acknowledge it. He doesn't have the conviction that comes with salvation to choose to follow God as a result of receiving salvation. Everything he does is for himself and with no worth beyond this life.

I haven't read your follow-up post on this...will do that next. Oh and I tried the jelly beans....yum!