Season: 6 Episode: 084
One of the main reasons people don’t choose God is not for lack of evidence. Most people who look at the evidence for God and still say they don’t believe because they want to make their own choices and live their own way. But can someone choose their own moral path and not suffer the eternal and earthly consequences? Shanda answers those questions on today’s episode.
“Atheists and agnostics may be moral, but without God they cannot justify morality.”
“Morality is grounded in objective truth.”
“Unless moral objectivity is defined and communicated to each generation, everyone will do what is right in his own eyes as the book of Judges infamously concludes.”
“You cannot be a moral relativist and be a Christian.”
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Hey guys! Welcome back to another episode of Her Faith Inspires podcast where we take cultural issues and align them to biblical truth. Registration for September’s Apologetics class is now available. You can purchase the class on the website: shandafulbright.com. I am offering two classes … one during the day and one in the evening. You can sign up for either time slot.
Today, we are discussing who determines morality. This is something I talk about often because many people think morals and values fall under different cultural norms. For example, one culture may think it’s wrong for women to wear shorts and show their legs, and another culture doesn’t. We’re going to discuss all of that today.
Some of the questions we are going to answer is:
- Who determines morality?
- Why do moral values change from generation to generation and culture to culture?
- If God doesn’t exist, can we make a case for morality?
First, morality by definition means: “the quality of being in accord with standards of right or good conduct.” The key word here isn’t right or good. The key word is standard. The definition of standard according to Webster is “something set up and established by authority as a model or example”. The key word here is “authority”. So in order to determine morality, we need to have an authority who sets the standard of morality. That means morality must be objective, not subjective.
Some have asked me to help them understand the difference between objective and subjective. With subjective truth or morality, the subject determines both. The subject says he/she is the authority that governs their own standard of truth. Objective means the standard or authority is outside of the subject and it applies to everyone. I hope that helps because I’ve dropped those terms a few times on a few different episodes and you won’t really understand a lot of what I’m talking about or even the bases of truth and morality if you don’t define those terms.
I want to make clear that I am not assuming atheists and moral relativists don’t act morally.
Many people within society live and act morally. The question we are answering is who determines morality? Because we have to answer that question in order to truly understand these cultural shifts.
We all know this, but it’s worth saying … culture condones things now that were not morally acceptable 50, 40, 20 years ago. There is a moral decline over the decades. But who determines the moral shift? Who gets to say what is morally acceptable today?
You may argue that laws are what keep people within the confines of what’s considered moral. But laws change over time. And all laws are based on a worldview. So if laws change, the moral standard changes too.
We call people “old fashioned” if they don’t have sex before marriage. We say someone is “old school” if they have curfews and dating standards. People are called bigots and homophobes if they do not condone homosexuality. What was once a mental disorder is now called bravery and heroic when it comes to gender dysphoria. Divorce is normalized.
Who says? Who gets to make that determination? Someone has to be the authority and set the standard of good and right.
The Bible says in Romans 2:15 that everyone has the moral law written on their hearts. And side note: if you want to know how to answer the questions of morality, what about the people who have never heard of Jesus, and why there are no real atheists, check out Romans 1-3. Romans 2:15 says, “They” (who’s they? If you go back up to verse 1, you’ll see Paul is speaking of those who judge others for breaking the moral law of God while doing the same. In verse 12, he speaks to those who sin apart from the law.) So again, the verse reads, “They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.”
The moral law is written on all of our hearts and our conscience bears witness to it. Man was created in the image of God and because of that, we are moral beings.
We are able to distinguish between right and wrong.
That’s why atheists and moral relativists by nature do what is written on their hearts to do. Society doesn’t condone murdering another person. In fact, I don’t know a country where it’s not against the law to kill another human being for the heck of it (unless of course you go against some government ideologies and you’re killed for your beliefs, or if you want to abort your baby). Those are moral issues and they cause division when it comes to words like murder and kill in terms of labeling those moral issues.
We can see that culture does not actually determine morality because the standard changes. Standards that change often are not standards. When I taught 5th grade, we had 5th grade standards in which to teach. When we had district meetings and all of the 5th grade teachers got together, we all had to teach according to the same standards. If we had county meetings with other 5th grade teachers, we all had the same 5th grade standards according to the California Dept of Education. If 5th grade parents wanted to know what their children would learn with me in 5th grade, I would point them to the online standards for the Ca Dept of Education and they would see the same standards for all 5th grade students in every district in every county throughout the state.
That’s how standards work.
The Ca Dept of Education is the authority and they set the standards based on what the kids already know and what they need to know to go to the next grade level.
That’s a secular analogy, so it helps us grasp the concept, but moral issues aren’t as simple. The authority cannot change. If the authority changes, the standard changes and standards that continuously change are subjective.
If God exists, then He sets the moral standard. The Bible being the word of God means it is our guide on moral issues. If Christians do not believe this, they do not have a biblical worldview. 2 Tim 3:16 tells us “All scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” The Bible guides us toward moral truth that applies to all people at all times … the very definition of objective truth.
Many people, even the Christian, confuses social acceptance with moral conformity.
We think because society applauds, condones and celebrates moral depravity, it must be ok. But Romans 1:32 tells us that, “Although they” (who’s they? If you go back up and read, it’s those who know God but suppress the truth in unrighteousness and God gave them over to a depraved mind. The rest of that verse says, “Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things (all of the immoral acts listed in the above verses) they not only continue to do these very things but ALSO APPROVE of those who practice them.”
The world doesn’t want the moral law of God. They want to determine their own morals and their own truth. But they can’t. God is the authority and He sets the standard.
Why do moral values change from generation to generation and culture to culture?
Someone asked me a few weeks ago at a conference what she can do to help her mother get saved. Here’s the thing about America: there are no sinners anymore. Because there is no sin. What do I mean by that? Our society condones every bit of immoral behavior. The conscious becomes seared and the sinner no longer believes he needs a savior. Why? Because he doesn’t believe he is a sinner.
The verse I read from Romans 2 tells us God has written the moral law on our hearts and that our conscience bears witness to this. However, if we are not in the word our conscience can be seared. 1 Timothy 4:2 tells us that teachings come through hypocritical liars whose consciences have been seared. The issue heres is that these teachers are searing the consciences of the students they’re leading astray with false teachings and deceiving spirits.
Remember, false teachers don’t teach the Bible correctly.
But they teach thee bible. They teach verses out of context and twist and manipulate verses to condone immoral behavior. When the Christian doesn’t use the Bible as their source for morality, we tend to trust our seared conscience because it feels right so it must be right. That’s a warped moral compass.
Every law we have is based on a worldview. Our current legislation and talks in Washington are based on an atheistic worldview. When you eliminate God, that’s the only other option. When you can go to mass on a Sunday (or Saturday) and condone abortion and trans activism for children as young as 8 years old, you have a seared conscience. You have replaced God’s moral law with your own.
The scary thing about generations that become exposed to moral depravity at such a young age is they become twice the sons of hell. Jesus was speaking to the religious leaders and referring to their hypocrisy when He said in Matt 23:15, “Woe to you! You win a single convert but end up making him twice as much a child of hell as you are.” Those are words worthy of taking note of.
Again, most people are concerned over moral issues:
The treatment of people in regard to racism. The lives of women and babies in regard to abortion. The emotional well-being of children trying to find their way in regard to transgenderism. We should care how people are treated. We should care about the lives of both the mother and the baby. People should care about the mental well-being of every child. BUT … where we differ is the issues of morality within the confines of a biblical worldview. The fact that every person is an image bearer. The fact that we are to love our neighbor as ourselves but knowing that’s impossible unless we love God first. The idea that mental and emotional health will never be reconciled outside of God’s design for humanity because male and female He created them.
Unless moral objectivity is defined and communicated to each generation, everyone will do what is right in his own eyes as the book of Judges infamously concludes.
The final question to answer is this: If God doesn’t exist, can we make a case for morality?
Short answer: no.
Frederick Nietzsche, a German philosopher, said, “God is dead! God remains dead! And we have killed Him. How can we console ourselves, the murders of all murders! The holiest and the mightiest thing the world has ever possessed has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood from us?”
Nietzsche was an atheist. So what did he mean by “God is dead?” He was referring to the decline of Christianity that was taking place in the Western world. This was an article in The Gay Science written in 1966.
The article, which I’ll link in the shown notes, suggests that “Nietzsche’s exasperation, expressed in the form of the madman, was directed at people’s ignorance of the loss of a ground of morality – indeed, he says, “The ‘collapse’ of our entire European morality.”
The article goes on to say that with the death of the Western God, moralities foundation was destroyed. Although an atheist, he understood the grounds for a moral argument was non existent without the authority of a higher power.
Can anyone else justify morality?
As I said in the episode, “Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?” … the words good and bad are words of morality. The bible tells us no one is good but God. We will never find nor determine good and right apart from God.
Anyone who claims that God doesn’t exist should never even speak of words that determine some sort of value such as best or greater. There is no value in moral relativism. There is no good. Why? Because there is no standard in which to judge good, better and best by. When you eliminate the standard, you eliminate the right to judge anything. And you eliminate the right to demand justice.
An atheist has no right to question right and wrong or even determine it.
Because he has no standard of right and wrong. To an atheist, Hitler wasn’t wrong in what he did in Nazi Germany. In fact, per the atheists way of thinking, Mother Teresa and Hitler are equal. What was right to one was morally subjective and what was wrong to the one doesn’t really matter. There is no standard. Everything goes.
You cannot be a moral relativist and be a Christian. You can claim to be a Christian while claiming to be a moral relativist but the two don’t jive. And if you know a moral relativist, test their beliefs by stealing their purse, their car or their laptop. See how long it takes before they want their stuff back. The easy part is claiming moral relativism. The impossible part is living by it.
I want to close out this episode by stressing that we need a biblical worldview. If you don’t know the criteria for that, go back and listen to the episode titled “What’s shaping your worldview?” No society can sustain moral relativism and godlessness.
Also, if you are a parent and/or work with children, we need to help make clear moral absolutes and guide them in this. As a parent, you will intercept ideologies on a daily basis because of entertainment, education and social media your children are exposed to.
Again, if you want to learn more about how to defend the faith and absolute truth, join me this fall for my online apologetics class. You won’t regret it!
I’ll catch you on thee next one!