Secular opponents of Christianity often claim it is foolish to apply Biblical moral standards since it is an ancient book which condones many things which we now consider immoral. They even claim the Bible portrays God Himself acting in immoral ways. For example, one writer claims what happened on the night of the Jewish Passover reveals God acting in a cruel manner. Rather than destroying “the armies or leading men of Egypt,” he says “the Lord chose to target the children” when the firstborn in the land of Egypt were killed. Instead of attempting to refute this questionable interpretation of Scripture, I simply ask this question: why do almost all people think it is morally wrong to kill children rather than soldiers? The answer, I believe, is because most folks to some degree have been influenced by the moral standards of the Bible.
Another objection many have to the Bible is that the guidelines it gives for moral sexual behavior are far too restrictive. The Bible’s teaching that sexual intimacy is only appropriate between a man and woman married to each other is scoffed at by many. These folks usually maintain that any sexual relationship between consenting adults is morally acceptable. It is important to ask, however, why it is we believe sexual relationships should be consensual? And why should they be limited to adults? Whether we realize or want to admit it, the primary reason most of us hold these standards is because we have been influenced by what the Bible says.
Jurgen Habermas, one of the world’s top ethicists, is an agnostic. He notes that religion, specifically Bible based Christianity, was western civilization’s source of moral consensus for centuries. Habermas reluctantly concedes that secularism has been unable to provide a sufficient moral foundation in the modern/post-modern world. The rise of secularism in the past century has not resulted in more humane, but rather less humane societies. He wishes people to treat each other in ways that are just and respectful without religion, but Habermas sees no reason to believe that will happen.
The primary problem with secularism is its almost exclusive reliance on “science.” Both natural and social sciences are by definition descriptive, not prescriptive. They can tell us “what is” but not “what should be.” As one philosopher notes, “We have descended from apes, therefore we should treat each other well,” is a complete non-sequitur. The dominant scientific explanations of the origin of the universe and human life contain no moral imperatives and really do not leave room for any.
Friends, the truth is that secularists can be very good people. They can never be sure, however, why they should be. That is one reason why discarding the Bible from discussions about morality is not something we can afford to do.
Rev. Dan Erickson
Senior Pastor, Chisholm Baptist Church