Sin - Are There Moral Absolutes?
Are There Moral Absolutes?
It might seem logical in dealing with a study on sin to start out by answering the question, what is sin? However before we can talk about what sin is we must first determine if sin actually exists. After all, If there is no sin then there is no need to do a study about it and since it is the position of many in our world that sin does not exist it is best that we start with this matter first.
To determine whether sin really exists we must first determine if there is such a thing as “moral absolutes.” “Moral absolutes” are the laws that make up the character of a Creator God. These laws are always in effect and are binding on all that God creates including man. If these laws exist, then there is the potential that these laws may be broken either intentionally or by accident. In such a case, the person who breaks or violates these absolute laws of God becomes a law breaker or a sinner. Because he has broken the law he must now answer to God and face whatever punishment that God considers appropriate for the violation of His law. To put this in biblical terms when any person breaks God’s law, he sins and is immediately judged and sentenced (John 3:18). That sentence involves a degree of eternal punishment in hell and the Everlasting Lake of fire (Rev. 20:11-15).
It should be clear than that the matter of the existence of moral absolutes is an important one and one that is heavily fought over in our world today. Many in the scientific and educational communities cling to evolution not because it is a better theory but because the only other alternative is to believe in a Creator God. A Creator God who imposes His moral absolutes upon man and subsequently punishes all who break them. To avoid this conclusion they make life the product of chance and a mindless universe with the hope that sin and eternal punishment will some how vanish into think air. In doing so they declare the Bible the fallible work of men and all religion the false invention of primitive man. Paul discusses their attempt at eradicating moral absolutes in the first chapter of Romans.
Rom 1:18-25, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man — and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. NKJV
Since God offers an eternal cure for man’s sin problem through His free gift of salvation, why then does man continue to deny God and His “moral absolutes?” The answer to this is simple. Men do not want to follow the moral absolutes of God. This was first illustrated in the decision of Adam and Eve to eat of the forbidden tree. Mankind wants to break God’s laws and not face any consequences for doing so. This is the very reason that those who violate God’s absolutes (the homosexual, the adulterer, the sexually immoral, the drug addict, the alcoholic, the abortionist, and etc.) work so hard at removing from society any religious faith which speaks of sin and judgment. In other words, if they can get rid of moral absolutes, their sinful practices will be transformed from deviant to normal human behavior.
Those of my generation remember a time when the vast majority of people considered the homosexual life style to be a deviant practice. Today if you hold that position you are in the vast minority and are branded a “homophobe” and guilty of hate crime. How far this view of no moral absolutes has taken over America!
With this being the case, how can we know if there are moral absolutes? The Bible and the scriptures of many religions teach moral absolutes but since these are questioned by so many, how can we know what the truth is? Is there a way to discover the answer apart from the Scriptures? The answer is, yes, absolutely.
First of all, those who promote the idea that there are no moral absolutes, in practice are bound by the very absolutes they deny. They will tell you that whether a moral decision is right or wrong depends upon whether it fits an individual’s lifestyle and circumstances. For example take the matter of lying. In their view lying is a bad choice if it causes injury but it is appropriate if it is used to avoid hurting someone’s feelings or protect ourselves from harm. If a friend chooses a very ugly dress to wear to a function and she asks you your opinion of it, what will you tell her? After all, if you tell them the truth it will only hurt her feelings and in the process may ruin your relationship. In such a case isn’t it better to tell a lie? Thus moral choices are fluid not absolute; totally at the whim of the individual making them. No matter what choice is made it does not matter for all decisions are right decisions. There are no wrong decisions.
This sounds really good in theory, but in practice it quickly brakes down as the life can not exist in an orderly state without moral absolutes. Let me give a couple of illustrations of what I saying.
1) First of all, if I say that abortion and the gay lifestyle are sin, since there are “no moral absolutes”, everyone is right in choices he makes and the views he expresses, Therefore, I should expect that they would accept my choices in the same way they accept the choices of the gay person. However in the real life this is not the case! Those who espouse no moral absolutes will call me (and they have) all kinds of names, question my intelligence, and even charge me as committing a terrible crime against humanity because of my views on the fore mentioned practices. Those who contend that absolutes are fluid are some of the most dogmatic individuals when it comes to moral choices. In reality, they are not against moral absolutes per say, they are just against those moral absolutes that do not fit their way of thinking.
2) Secondly, in real life those who claim no absolutes in practice demand that their moral absolutes be protected. Life without moral absolutes ends up in chaos and destruction. Let me give some examples of what I mean.
a. Murder: Based on the view of no absolutes, the choice concerning the act of murder should be left up what is right for the individual and his circumstances. Murder may be wrong for you but I may see murder as a valid choice for me in the appropriate circumstance. I go up to a professor who teaches no moral absolutes and because of a failing grade he gave I point a loaded gun at him. I inform him that I plan to murder him. If he really believes absolutes are fluid and depend on what is right for the individual then he should respond, “well I feel it is wrong decision for me but if it works for you go ahead.” Anyone with common sense knows that this professor will need no persuasion in concluding that what I am proposing is absolutely wrong with no exception! Amazing how quickly the concept of no absolutes suddenly falls apart in the real world.
b. Stealing: lets say I have a friend who holds there are no moral absolutes. He feels what works for me is fine and what works for him is fine and both choices are okay. My friend has a home worth more than a million dollars and I would like to own it. So I go over to him and tell him he has one week to move out of his home and turn over the deed to me. Now if he really believes there are no absolutes he should respond by saying, well it is not my way of doing things but if that works for you go ahead. Anyone with common sense knows that my friend will have no problem seeing that my moral decision is absolutely wrong with no exception. Once again, the very practice of life proclaims that moral absolutes do exist and necessary for civilized living.
I believe by these illustrations I have shown the need for law and order requires that there be some set of moral absolutes. Because of this, there is no one who fully removes him or herself from some basic moral absolutes and this should be no surprise as God declares that he has placed these moral absolutes on the hearts of every person.
Rom 2:14-16, “For when Gentiles, who do not have the law (the Scriptures), by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them)” NKJV
Secondly, the existence of moral absolutes can be found in all human societies and governments. Such organization must maintain laws based on the same basic moral absolutes if they hope to survive. For example all societies have laws against murder, stealing, arson, embezzlement, slander, treason, kidnapping and the list goes on and on. It is when these laws are abandoned that the society begins to deteriorate into chaos. Here is a huge lesson that American needs to learn and learn it quickly!
Thirdly, an argument commonly used to justify ignoring moral absolutes is to justify one’s sinful behavior with the practice of the animal kingdom. Since, in their thinking, we are the products of chance and have evolved from animals, what animals do is justification for what we do. Often this has been used to justify practices such a homosexuality, promiscuity, adultery, and etc. Once again this argument breaks down when we realize that just because a practice can be found in the animal kingdom does not necessarily make it a legitimate practice for humanity. For example, in some animals the female eats the male after mating with him. Does this make it right for humans to do the same? Some animals have been known to eat their young. Once again, does this make it right for humans to do the same? The animal kingdom can not be used as a guide fir the behavior of humanity because people are not animals nor do we derive our origins from animals. Likewise, the behavior of animals today has been distorted by the curse of sin (Rom. 8:19-23) and do not always reflect how God originally programmed them to act and behave.
Finally, since we are forced to recognize that moral absolutes exist, then we must also recognize that there is a Creator God and we are responsible for the keeping of his moral absolutes. His Word, the Bible, contains a complete list of these moral absolutes and declares that man is woefully incapable of keeping those absolutes. With this said, man is heading for eternal punishment and he has no hope within himself to change that destiny (Eph. 2:1-10). His only hope is to place his sin and his eternal destiny into the hands of a merciful, loving, and gracious God. Have you put your faith totally in Christ to save you? Why not do so today!