By Dave, the WM
This is a continuation of the article posted here: Morality and ethics without absolutes.
Regardless of all the rhetoric, examples and arguments, the majority of Christians do not believe in absolute morality. Or do they?
The argument from Christians is that without the Bible, or God, or the Ten Commandments, there is nothing to tell us that murder is wrong. There is no way to make a decision about rape, or theft. Without the absolute morality as defined in the Bible, all society would crash into a subjective chaos of relativistic anarchy where everyone does what is right in their own eyes and everyone is a victim of everyone else's violent, unrestrained lusts.
All ideas have consequences, and the idea that absolute morality exists between the covers of the Bible has terrifying consequences to our freedoms.
Oh yes. If there are absolute morals and they are explained by the Bible, we are in trouble.
Commandment 1: Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.
Muslims, Buddhists, Pagans, Atheists… anyone who does not submit his life entirely to the worship of Yahweh and his Son are breaking the first commandment. This commandment is repeated in the New Testament: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and thy mind and thy soul. There is no compromise here. Anyone who is breaking this commandment is patently immoral. Everyone who breaks this commandment is depraved. Everyone who breaks this commandment is guilty, guilty, guilty.
We all agree that murder, rape, theft, or lying on the stand are punishable offenses. People found guilty of these immoral acts are imprisoned. The secularist says that humans generally have agreed in every culture throughout recorded history that such behaviors are wrong and have enacted laws forbidding such behaviors. However, they are imprisoned, says the Christian, because they broke the absolute moral laws of God. Without the Ten Commandments, we would have no laws forbidding these behaviors because no one would know right from wrong.
Yet, in those commandments we have one very BIG commandment — NO OTHER GODS. This absolute moral law we all ignore. No one is condemned, criticized, imprisoned, whipped, put in the stocks, or spit on for reverencing another god. Such tolerance of other gods is not Christian absolutism. Such tolerance of other gods is secular relativism. It is secular values that teach us to tolerate and allow freedoms to our fellow human beings to worship a variety of gods, or no god at all. It is relativistic thinking that passes over idolatry as if it were nothing.
What about the second commandment about no graven images?
Oriental and Hindu peoples have little god statues all over the place. Why is there no law against such blatant disregard for absolute morality?
Commandment III: Taking the name of the Lord in vain.
No matter how you define this "moral absolute," there is no law on the secular books against any form of screwing around with the name of God. There is not one law on the books in the US against profaning God’s name, blaspheming God’s name, or any other 'ing of God’s name. This is an ABSOLUTE moral law that Christians are ignoring without giving it a second thought.
Remember the Sabbath Day, to keep it holy.
Does anyone do this? All the stores, parks, movies — everything is open for business Saturdays and Sundays the same as on any other day of the week. It wasn’t always this way in the U.S. There used to be laws (called Blue Laws) that forced all commerce to shut down on the Sabbath! Christians have joined the secularists in abandoning the uncompromising moral absolute of honoring the Sabbath. Oh sure, you can pick a few kernels of corn on the Sabbath (new Jesus rules) but I wonder what He’d think of all the cussing and beer guzzling at all those football games.
Nope, the Ten Commandments are absolutes and there is no compromise or change with God. Right and wrong is not relative to the times and circumstances. It is not within the domain or the ability of human beings to decide right from wrong apart from the Bible. We cannot be trusted to determine morals and set just laws on our own. Without the Bible our societies are depraved, perverse and demonic. We all must be restrained by the absolute morality of the Bible.
Obviously, I'm being sarcastic. I doubt there is one in ten Christians who would agree with outlawing all religions but Christianity, destroying idols wherever they are found, throwing people behind bars for cussing, or arresting people for opening shop on Sunday. No, we've grown past such arcane rules.
Or have we?
The reason this topic is important, is that at its root, Christianity is a theocratic system that demands absolute obeisance to the absolute authority of a god.
In this theocratic system, slavery is approved. Slaves are to obey their masters and masters are not to mistreat their slaves, and there is not one word of criticism against owning other human beings as property. In fact, there are considerable laws and instructions in the Bible regarding treatment of slaves, punishments for owners if the slave dies while being beaten, and even a nice once-every-50-years rule about freeing slaves, but only if they happen to be Hebrew slaves. Regardless, the practice of slavery is not condemned even once.
In a truly absolute theocratic Christian country, slavery will be re-instituted. Those who criticize slavery will be arguing against the absolute morality as clearly revealed by God Almighty.
Genocide will be approved in theocratic Christian America, so long as those being wiped out are idol worshippers, or have promiscuous sex practices that violate the absolute morality of God Almighty. War and genocide are never condemned in the Bible. In fact, war and genocide are commanded again, and again, and again. The victors in the battle take the property and goods of the dead. The virgin women who survive, they become property too. Captured virgins can be married (read raped), and of course all men can have more than one wife. Ture, it's not the best arrangement, the multiple wives thing, but it is permitted in God's absolute version of morality. Oh, and divorce is absolutely forbidden, except in the case of immorality.
Sabbath breaking will be stopped immediately. No more breaking of God's absolute morality regarding the Sabbath. Don't ask why &mash; asking is not our position. It is for Christians in a Christian nation to obey.
Now, I don't honestly think the Bible has anything authoritative to say on morality, and I've stated my views in the previous article linked here: Morality and ethics without absolutes. However, if Christians want to box themselves into an archaic and strange morality as defined in a Bronze Age holy book, well, I wouldn't forbid them their rights. If they want to make rules about haircuts, or dress lengths, or masturbation, or anything else, that's entirely up to them. I don't believe in forcing my version of how life should be lived down the throat of anyone. Personally, I don't like hard liquor, but I wouldn't try to make it illegal for someone else. I'm not a homosexual, but I don't really care what a couple of guys do in their own home. It's really none of my business.
But Christians are not so generous. Christians believe their absolute morality should be enforced throughout society. Christians believe laws should be created that as closely as possible conform and adhere to the absolute laws of God.
That's why this topic is important. That's why Christian morality is a threat to freedom.
The West had a Christian theocratic rule for over 1,000 years and it plunged the world into darkness. Christians want to say things are getting worse and worse? Christians who say that are ignorant of history. Things have been amazingly worse than they are today, and that worse was during Christianity's golden years of absolute moral authority.
Thankfully, the Christian view of absolute morality is false, and our moral sense is continuing to evolve right along with every other aspect of human knowledge. However, if fundamentalists do finally gain the governmental power they seek, the light may go out again.
So, to reiterate, real morality is not absolute, is relative to the times, circumstances, history, culture, environment, and other pressures, and above all, is strictly a human affair. Gods have nothing to do with it.
What do you think?
Online Reading List
- An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish by Bertrand Russell (1943)
- Bible Teaching and Religious Practice by Mark Twain
- God is Imaginary
- Is there an Artificial God? by Douglas Adams (1998)
- Skeptics Annotated Bible
- The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine (1795)
- Which Way? by Robert Ingersoll (1884).
- Why I Am Not A Christian by Bertrand Russell (1927)