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The Moral Law

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(Last Updated:  29 Nov 1999 )

The Moral Law is based on the premise that there is such a thing as right and wrong, and there are some things that you "ought" to do, and some things that you "ought not" to do.  I think that everyone believes in a moral law.  Even those who say they donít, still get upset when their house is burgled.  The question really becomes how to definitively tell that something is right or wrong.  When I have discussed this with non-Christian friends, they normally use their own feelings as their measuring stick.  When I point out that, for example, an serial killer might feel that what he was doing was right, the next standard put forward is society, or the law.  But can society really define what is right?  What if two different societies disagree?  By a simple logic, it is obvious that they canít both be right.

Once it can be established that there is a moral law, it follows that there must be a moral law-giver.  Without this standard, then when two people disagree about a moral judgement, all you can have is two conflicting opinions, with no way to decide the issue.  Yet in reality, two contradicting things cannot both be right.  It seems the only way to resolve the dilemma is for there to be a real, objective standard, which the Christian calls "God".

And when you take away, or ignore, this standard, what you get is a relativistic or morally subjective society, which is what we are moving towards now.  I think it is obvious that our society is becoming more and more violent, dishonest, crude, selfish and superficial.  If you disagree, read the newspaper.  And then go to the library archives and read one from 40 years ago.  To illustrate, think about this quote from Peter Kreeft (the statistics are American, but the point is universal):

"A modern Rip Van Winkle falling asleep in 1955 and waking up in 1995 would simply not believe his ears when he heard the statistics of our decay.  What moralist, complaining of the 10-percent divorce rate then, foresaw the 50-percent divorce rate now?  Who foresaw a 500-percent increase in violent crime and a 5000-percent increase in teenage violent crime?  When Black society was being declared beyond repair because of a 30-percent illegitimacy rate, who thought that by 1995 white society would equal it, while the rate would climb to nearly 80-percent among Blacks?  Who would have thought even ten years ago that Russian public schools would be showing films about Jesus and American schools would be outlawing them?  If the next forty years continue the movement of the last forty, does anyone have the slightest hope for the survival of anything resembling civilization?  What would another 5000-percent increase in teenage violent crime mean?  Or another tripling of the illegitimacy rate?  Or another administration that would be to the Clinton what the Clinton was to the Eisenhower, that would make the Clinton years look like Ozzie and Harriet?  Just extend the line, follow the road, and you will see the cliff."
A worldview that does not have an objective moral standard, one that has "values" instead of "laws", seems doomed to destruction.  To put it another way, and again to quote from Kreeft, "Of course, objective morality is not one among many moral options;  it is the very definition of morality.  "Subjective morality" is an oxymoron;  it is no morality at all;  it is a mere game.  If I (or we) make rules, I (or we) can change them.  If I tie myself up, I am not really bound.  And a nonbinding morality is not morality, only some "good ideas".  It has no laws, nothing with teeth in it;  only "values":  soft, squooshy things that feel like teddy bears."

No matter how hard you try, you canít avoid the reality of a moral law.  Our present-day culture is a novel experiment that is trying to prove that you can, but the experiment isnít working.



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