President Obama in an interview for the BBC2 series, “Inside Obama’s White House,” spoke to how he uses his voice in his work “to move things toward a more ethical and moral outcome.”
I love the sound of that! And I say, “Amen, me too, Mr. President.” To the extent that God has given me influence, I want “to move things toward a more ethical and moral outcome.” The dictionary states morality is “conformity to the rules of right conduct.” I’m for that!
But here’s the problem of the postmodern age. What definition of morality are we operating with? Today’s morality is personal. There is no longer some external standard there for society’s benefit to help guide what it is we conform to. Each person is encouraged to self-define one’s morality. “Do what feels right for you.” By this nonstandard one can easily change one’s sense of right and wrong as easily as one changes shoes or a shirt, and suffer no social condemnation.
Therefore, when you hear someone appeal to ethics and morality, the necessary question is “Whose ethics and whose morality? What is the established standard?”
Here’s how this plays out in political discussion. If you say, “There is no god, and then tell me that I should not be racist, or that I should help someone in need, I will ask, “Why should I?” If we are all evolutionary accidents, why can’t I believe what I want, and you believe what you want? You might respond, “There are laws that prohibit discrimination and cruelty.” I counter, “Suppose the laws are changed. Is it then okay to discriminate? After all, it was once legal to own slaves, but did changing the law make slavery immoral?” If you appeal to a moral code or moral law that comes from outside ourselves, or some moral feeling or weight that is germane to most human beings, you will have claimed there is an established moral code beyond our own ability to define morality.
That points to a God, and a code given by Him. This is the foundation for law and morality. With this code as given by God, and as revealed in the Holy Bible, I agree. And this code has been the standard for western morality since the time of Jesus Christ; or even further, the time of the ancient Jews at Mount Sinai.
Moral relativism, the ability for each individual to define one’s own morality, has contributed to a host of societal and relational problems today that few wish to acknowledge, and is creating the kind of confusion that will lead to increasing moral change. The president, for instance, used to be against same-sex marriage, but now he’s for it. Was he moral when he opposed it, and immoral now, or vice versa? And, what is the president’s standard, because these two positions are contradictory? This type of flip flop on large societal matters as public opinion seesaws are symptoms of the moral confusion epidemic in western society. The inability or unwillingness to enforce a moral code that mostly served humanity until the 60’s sexual revolution began to destroy moral foundations is responsible for the confusion and moral chaos we are currently witnessing. Who will rescue us? It won’t be a presidential candidate. This will take something or someone beyond ourselves. Change begins at the human heart by a work of the Holy Spirit. Fixes won’t flow from congress, the president, or the Supreme Court. Pray that God will change hearts. Meanwhile, you live for Christ using His standard for ethical behavior as revealed in the Bible as your standard.