New Morality, sexual liberation and free love justify premarital sex, extrmarital sex, divorce, homosexuality, and pornography. What about the Bible, family, and Christian morals?
How should we determine what conduct is moral or immoral? What principles show what is morally right or wrong? The Bible is God's absolute standard of authority to reveal His will, yet we must study to understand and apply it. What does God's word say about stewardship, influence, example, and temptation? What priorities should we follow? How should we use the life and character of Jesus as our example? Please consider these Bible guidelines for moral living and conduct.
2 Timothy 3:16,17 -- The Scriptures instruct us in righteousness, providing us to every good work. Yet we must apply the word properly, study diligently, and pray for wisdom (2 Timothy 2:15; James 1:5-7). We must learn to discern good and evil (Hebrews 5:14).
As you consider whether a specific act is morally pure or impure, here are some Bible principles to help you reach a proper conclusion. As you read the article, please look up the passages in your Bible so you can answer and apply the questions that are asked.
A. Does the Bible Prohibit This Conduct Either in General or Specific Terms?
The Bible contains many lists of sins to be avoided -- Mark 7:20-23; Romans 1:26-32; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 4:17-5:21; Col. 3:5-11; 2 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 3:3; James 3:13-4:10; 1 Peter 4:1-4; Revelation 21:8; 22:15. In addition, other passages discuss individual sins. These prohibitions should be studied and obeyed.
Remember that the Bible teaches in both general and specific terms. Sometimes it describes in detail that a specific act is sinful. Other times it presents general principles which may include many specific sins. Study is required to determine whether a specific act fits the definition of something God has forbidden.
(Note: The following passages show examples in which people applied general principles to specific cases: Romans 13:8-10; Matthew 4:7,10; 21:13; James 2:8,9; note "suchlike" in Galatians 5:21.)
Surely we should avoid what God's word directly prohibits, but we must also apply general principles to determine right from wrong.
B. Will This Conduct Be Good Stewardship?
1 Peter 4:10,11 -- What is a steward? What has God given us that we should use and care for?
[Luke 12:42-46; 16:1,2,12; 2 Chron. 28:1; 1 Corinthians 4:1,2]
Matthew 25:14-30 -- What did the Lord give these men to use? What were the consequences of proper or improper use of them?
Consider some specific blessings we should use for God:
1. Ability and effort
This is part of our stewardship (1 Peter 4:10,11).
Titus 2:14 -- For what purpose did the Lord purify us?
Romans 12:11 -- How should we serve the Lord?
Think: For what purposes does God expect us to use our ability and strength?
[1 Corinthians 15:58; 12:12-27; 2 Corinthians 8:5; Ecclesiastes 9:10; Proverbs 6:9,10; Hebrews 6:12; 2 Peter 1:5-8]
2. Time and opportunities
Life is made of time. God gave you your life to serve Him. You must use it for what is most important.
Galatians 6:10 -- What opportunities must we be sure to use?
John 9:4 -- Explain Jesus' illustration about working.
Think: How is using our time similar to budgeting money?
[Ephesians 5:15,16; Matthew 25:14-30; Ecclesiastes 12:13; 1 Kings 20:40; 1 Peter 4:2,3; Romans 13:13,14]
Psalm 24:1,2; 50:10-12 -- Who really owns all your possessions?
1 Timothy 6:9,10,17-19 -- What are the dangers of loving money? What should we do with our possessions?
[Haggai 2:8; 1 Chronicles 29:11-14; Matthew 6:19-34; Acts 4:32-35; 2 Cor. 8:1-5; 9:6-10; 1 John 2:15-17; Luke 12:13-21; Deut. 10:14]
1 Corinthians 6:19,20; Romans 12:1,2 -- To whom do our bodies belong? What should they be used for? [3 John 2; Rom. 6:12ff]
Think: May we destroy or abuse God's gifts to please ourselves? Are we "pure" if we neglect God's work to please ourselves?
C. Will This Conduct Encourage Others to Serve God Better, or Will It Set a Bad Example?
1 Timothy 4:12; Matthew 5:13-16 -- What should we do for others? How should our lives affect others?
Matthew 18:6,7 -- What happens to us if we lead others to sin?
2 Corinthians 6:3 -- What should we seek to avoid? How might we be guilty of this?
Think: Should we do whatever we want as long it is not inherently sinful, or should we sacrifice our liberties to help others be saved (1 Corinthians 9:19-23; 10:24,31-33)?
Consider these questions about the influence of any act: If others see me do this, will they be helped or hindered in their service to God? What about children? Would I advise new converts to practice this? Will this conduct help or hinder efforts to save the lost?
[1 Corinthians 8; Romans 14; 1:32; Titus 2:7,8; 2 Cor. 6:14-7:1; Ephesians 5:11; 1 Peter 2:11,12; 3:15,16; 1 Cor. 13:5,6; 2 John 9-11]
D. Will This Conduct Place Me in Circumstances that Help or that Hinder My Own Service to God?
Consider the influence an act may have on you yourself.
Matthew 6:13 -- What should we pray for? Should we knowingly enter tempting situations simply to indulge our own desires?
Proverbs 22:3 -- How does a prudent man differ from a fool?
Think: If you know a course of action is likely to lead to sin, does it make good sense to start down that path?
Matthew 26:41 -- What should we do to avoid temptation?
1 Corinthians 15:33; Proverbs 13:20 -- What danger should we watch for? How will wise men act to avoid the danger?
Ask yourself, "Will this act encourage or hinder my service to God? Will it strengthen or dull my interest in spiritual things?"
[Romans 13:14; Proverbs 4:23; 6:27; 24:1,2; 5:8; 1 Corinthians 10:12; 5:6,7; Matthew 18:6-9; James 4:4; Genesis 39:7-12; Hebrews 12:15; Galatians 5:7-9; Ephesians 4:27; 5:11; 2 Corinthians 6:14-18]
E. Will This Conduct Lead Me to Respect or to Disrespect Properly Ordained Authority?
God has ordained that certain people have authority over us on earth. To obey God, we must obey these authorities unless they command us to sin (Acts 5:29). For each passage below, tell whom we must submit to.
Romans 13:1-7 [1 Peter 2:13,14; Titus 3:1; Matt. 22:15-21] --
Ephesians 6:1 [Luke 2:51; Romans 1:30,32; Colossians 3:20] --
Ephesians 5:22-24,33 [Titus 2:5; 1 Peter 3:1-6; Colossians 3:18; Genesis 3:16] --
Ephesians 6:5-8 [Colossians 3:22,23; Titus 2:9,10] --
1 Peter 5:1-5 [Acts 20:28; Hebrews 13:17] --
Note: Several verses say to submit to these authorities as we would to the Lord. Consider what this means. Should we look for loopholes, or should we obey the intent of the rules? Should we do secretly what we would be ashamed for the authority to know about?
F. Is This Conduct Consistent with the Standards I Profess to Follow and Expect of Others?
All of us have standards we profess to follow or we apply to others, yet sometimes we justify ourselves in not following these standards. To encourage an honest evaluation, try imagining someone else in the situation, or think of what you profess in other situations.
Matthew 23:3,4 -- What did these people do wrong? Should we expect others to follow rules we do not follow? Should we follow a higher standard around some people than we do around others?
[Romans 2:1,21,22; Matthew 6:1; 7:1-5; Acts 10:34,35]
Think: Would you want your children to grow up participating in an act such as the one you are considering? Would you be ashamed if they knew you did it? Would you participate in this act around church members? Would you be ashamed to have them know?
Hebrews 6:12; 13:7 -- Whom should we imitate?
Think: If you would be disappointed to see elders or preachers participate in an act, then should you do it? [1 Peter 5:2,3; 1 Corinthians 11:1; Philippians 3:17; 4:9]
Matthew 15:7,8 -- What error did these people commit?
Think: Would you feel right if you engaged in the activity in question immediately after singing songs and praying prayers of devotion to God? Would you feel pure before God if you stopped in the midst of the act and asked His blessings on it?
Romans 14:20-23 -- Should you participate in an act that violates your conscience? What should you do if you cannot conclusively prove that a certain act is sinful, yet you have doubts about it?
Think: Sometimes you face two courses, one of which is clearly acceptable but the other appears to be doubtful at best. What should you choose (at least for your own conduct)? Yet take care before you condemn others who practice it -- v1-12.
[See also 1 Corinthians 8:4-12; 10:23-33]
Is your life consistent with your own standards, your own conscience, and your expectations of others?
G. Will This Conduct Harmonize with Proper Priorities or Cause Me to Neglect Them?
Matthew 6:19-21,24,33 -- How many spiritual masters can we have? What should be our highest priority in life?
Romans 12:1,2; John 6:27,63 -- How should we act toward God? Toward the world? What should we emphasize in life?
Many acts are wrong because they emphasize physical things above spiritual things. Others may not be inherently sinful, but must not become so important to us that they hinder our service to God. Are you putting God first in your life?
[Matthew 16:24-27; 10:34-39; 1 Corinthians 6:19,20; 15:58; 2 Corinthians 8:5; 5:14,15; 4:16-18; Galatians 2:20; Romans 8:5-8; Luke 12:15-21; 14:25-33; Colossians 3:1,2; 1 Timothy 4:8; 6:6-19]
H. Will I Be Acting in Love for God and Man?
Matthew 22:37-40 -- What are the greatest two commands?
Matthew 7:12; Romans 13:8-10 -- How will I treat others if I love them?
1 John 3:16-18 -- How did Jesus demonstrate love? Explain how love relates to action.
If you did the act in question, would you be sincerely acting for the well-being of others, or would you be pursuing your own interests regardless of the will of God or the needs of others?
[1 John 5:3; John 14:15; Luke 6:27,28,31-33; 10:25-37; 1 Corinthians 13:1-8,13; Philippians 2:1-5]
I. Would I Want to Be Doing This When Jesus Returns? Would I Do It in His Presence?
We sometimes fool ourselves about the nature of an act, but questions like these should help us evaluate things honestly.
1 Thessalonians 5:1-5 -- When is Jesus coming? What lesson should we learn?
James 4:13,14 -- What else is uncertain?
2 Corinthians 5:10 -- How will our destinies be determined?
Think: Would you be ashamed for Jesus to see you doing this act if He came to visit you? Would you want to face Him in judgment knowing you had done it and not repented? [Romans 14:10-12; Revelation 20:12; Galatians 6:7-9]
J. Would Jesus Do This?
Matthew 10:24,25 -- Describe the goal of a disciple.
1 Peter 2:21,22 -- How should our lives compare to Jesus'?
Every act should be examined by asking, "What would Jesus do?" If He were here now, would He practice this activity, use this language, go to this place, wear these clothes, etc.?
[Matthew 16:24; 1 Cor. 11:1; Eph. 5:1,2; Phil. 2:5; Gal. 2:20]
“Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.” Eccl 2:11 (ESV)
Morality requires some sense of distinction between right and wrong behavior. We all have a natural sense of right and wrong, but where do our standards for right and wrong come from? Evolution suggests morality is simply biological programming developed as a necessary function to propagate the human species. If morality is reduced to biology, standards are necessarily relative to the individual or the individual’s group. The bible indicates that there are absolute standards for moral behavior applicable universally. The creation account provides a very clear description of how we came into the original knowledge of good and evil. The rest of scripture describes the history of the relationship between a holy and righteous God and humanity made corrupt by its knowledge of good and evil.
From the Evolutionist’s perspective the terms right and wrong, with respect to morality, generally refer to correct or incorrect behavior for the individual in the context of the immediate situation. It is from this point of view that situational ethics are defended. The terms good and evil are strongly disliked by Evolutionists because those terms are understood to imply absolutes derived from something besides material reality. The bible lays out a clear foundation for universal justice with a distinct difference between good and evil. Good is that which conforms to the nature of God and includes behaviors consistent with God’s character. That would be love, forgiveness, mercy, grace, creativity, justice, and full truthful disclosure. Evil is that which rebels God’s nature and includes idolatry, accusation, destructiveness, deception, lying, sadism, and the opposites of all good character. Faith in Evolution requires faith that there is no God therefore it must deny objective truth and moral absolutes. Faith in the biblical Creation account necessarily includes faith in the existence of a Creator and with that comes belief in objective truth and absolute standards for and existence of good and evil.
The objective of the rest of this chapter is to describe the impact of belief in Evolution on society. Decide for yourself which is better: Evolution’s moral relativism or biblical objective morality.
Evolutionary morality is based on good or bad biology rather than good or bad behavior. Abortion and euthanasia become acceptable because weakness is viewed as evil. Those who cannot contribute or who are otherwise a burden have less value and are more easily discarded. Convenience of the fit and desirable trumps life for the weak or unwanted. The bible forbids discarding life casually and goes so far as to require us to do all we can to help those who cannot help themselves.
Evolution draws no moral distinction between human life and animal life. Relativism allows some to be cruel toward animals because life in general has no intrinsic value. The same relativism causes others to view animals as equivalent to humans. Both extremes are wrong when viewed from the Biblical perspective. God endowed both humans and animals with souls, but humans alone were created in God’s image. God made man distinct from animals and gave him the job of stewardship. Biblical dominion does not mean cruelty or neglect. Those who consider animals equal to man lobby for animal rights arguing moral and civil equivalence. Relativism results in two extremes who fight one another.
If evolution is true, then it is ongoing. If it is ongoing, then it stands to reasons some humans are more highly developed than others. In other words, some people are more human than others. This idea is central to racism. It was the context Hitler used to condemn Jews and other undesirables. A branch of science called eugenics deals directly with purposefully driving human evolution. Hitler was obsessed with the idea of a master race. This idea came directly from a fundamental belief in Evolution. Evolutionary belief has likewise fueled the fires of racism in the United States. In Australia, the native Aborigines were thought to be a subhuman missing evolutionary link. They were hunted down and murdered with state sanctioned support. In reality their physical differences are entirely superficial. Likewise, the Pygmies of central Africa are just as human as anyone else, but due to their social and genetic isolation their appearance and culture is recessive. Many supporters of Evolution promote racism because they have bought into the lie that they really are superior. Rather than Evolution making them superior, isolation has led to restricting the gene pool of small groups like the aborigines and pygmies until diversity is lost and they begin to take on certain superficial characteristic differences from “normal” society. No group evolved to become superior. Instead, isolated groups lost genetic diversity until they looked different.
Racism and bigotry are not identical. A bigot may dislike another because of skin color, but a racist believes he is superior because of his skin color. Certainly slavery, along with bigotry and racism, existed before Darwin ever set sail. That said, Evolution lent a degree of legitimacy to it. Evolutionary morality can rationalize putting inferior races to work to serve superior races. Although the bible does not forbid slavery, it makes no room for any such thing as racial superiority. It took the will of determined Christians to abolish slavery of black people in the Americas.
Sexual deviance covers a number of acts including homosexuality, pedophilia, incest, rape, bestiality, and adultery. When the barriers of moral absolutes are removed, whatever form of pleasure a person desires becomes permissible to indulge in. God established standards for sexual behavior. He commanded humanity to go forth and multiply. Most of the forms of deviancy mentioned here run counter to procreation and the rest are destructive to human relationships and personal health.
After the fall, one of the first things Adam and Eve realized was their nakedness. In their shame they sought to cover themselves. When moral relativism replaces right and wrong, the human conscience gets seared away. Shame ceases to hold us back. Today we have a thriving pornography industry, sex on TV, and bikinis serving hot wings at family restaurants. Evolution gives us an excuse to go naked and a reason to take advantage of it. The bible encourages modesty, chastity, and purity. When society gets naked there should be no wonder why so many children get pregnant in middle school and all other forms of sexual deviancy are so widely accepted.
Evolution quietly attracts people away from belief in God. It is a powerful propaganda weapon in the war against marriage. Marriage and traditional family are under attack precisely because they are established by God. God created the institution of marriage in order to construct the best possible environment to raise healthy children. The homosexual movement strives to convince the general population that their behavior is acceptable and they have a right to choose their sexual behavior. Once homosexual rights are established, the next step is to redefine marriage. By opening up marriage to relationships other than one man and one woman, marriage looses its value and ceases to have meaning. The only reason to redefine marriage is to destroy it. Men and women are created with unique and special roles. The confusion of these roles is only to be expected when all standards erode in the chaos of relativism. The collapse of family follows closely.
The bible teaches that God is love. To have God’s love is to seek the benefit others above self. When we eliminate God from our lives, we deny ourselves the joy and benefits of having and sharing God’s love. Godless Evolutionary morality excuses and even encourages selfishness. We prefer to indulge our own interests above those of other family members. Selfishness of a husband or wife replaces love for the spouse. Selfishness of parents replaces love of children. Sin steals parents from their children. When parents submit to no authority except themselves, it is only natural that the children mimic this behavior and rebel against authority. When children feel unloved by their parents it becomes much easier to justify ridding yourself of a child you do not want. Abortion is justified for the sake of personal convenience and we call it a woman’s right to choose.
The bible says parents are to set proper boundaries, teach their children, encourage them, and lead by example. Children are to honor and obey parents. It is natural for teenagers and young adults to assert their independence. It is far more likely to turn into rebellion when the child is taught that objective moral absolutes do not exist. Children need boundaries for safety and security. Without any reason to recognize boundaries youth often become depressed and suicidal. Others become defiant and openly rebellious. Evolution destroys the foundation for the objective boundaries and sound reasoning needed by young minds.
There are consequences when you try to disregard the laws of physics. Likewise there are consequences when you ignore moral laws established by God. Belief in Evolution is deceptive because Evolution cannot be held directly responsible for any of the forms of lawlessness mentioned above. Yet, Evolution teaches atheism. When God becomes a fairytale, so do the standards that God established for our benefit. Refusal to accept God’s laws eliminates neither the law nor the consequences. It only eliminates our ability to see where we went wrong.
How involved should Christians be in issues that relate to civil government? Should they vote in elections, write government representatives, support candidates, and speak out about political issues relating to morality, family, and religious freedom? What about Separation of Church and state?
Surely local churches should not endorse candidates, nor sponsor or finance their campaigns. And individual Christians should not become so involved in politics that they neglect other God-given duties. But should Christians refuse all involvement in any issues that surround modern politics and elections?
Consider some of the practices that government officials currently debate, legalize, or even finance with our taxes: abortion, gambling, divorce, pornography, homosexuality, contraceptives for unmarried teens, and "education" that justifies some or all of these. Should Christians, gospel preachers, and even churches speak out about such issues, or should we remain silent? If we do not speak out, how do we fulfill our God-given duty to preach the truth and rebuke error? See Revelation 3:19; Galatians 6:1,2; James 5:19,20; I Thessalonians 5:14; Ephesians 5:11; 2 Timothy 4:2-4.
Does the Bible contain examples of faithful servants of God speaking out when government officials practiced or encouraged moral or religious evils? The following passages show that we may and should do so: Matthew 14:1-4; 2 Samuel 12:1-15; 1 Kings 13:1-9; Acts 24:25. In our society individual citizens have several ways to tell rulers we agree or disagree with their practices. One way we may speak out is by voting for or against the rulers in elections.
Many current government decisions will have major impact on our families. Men are responsible to provide for their families, including protecting them from harm (1 Timothy 5:8; Ephesians 5:28,29). Parents are responsible to provide a wholesome upbringing for our children (Ephesians 6:4; Proverbs 22:6). If my vote can help protect my family from evil government decisions and can help provide a more wholesome environment in which to raise my children, why should I refuse to vote?
Daniel 4:32 says the Most High rules in the kingdom of men and gives it to whomever He chooses. Some have concluded this means Christians should not attempt to influence who will or will not rule, since we do not know whom God would choose and we might be working against the choice God has made.
But note Esther 7:1-10 � A godly woman used her influence to bring down a wicked ruler. Was she wrong? Should she just have prayed and done nothing, leaving the matter entirely up to God? The main point of the book is that, instead of doing nothing, she had the courage and wisdom to act for the good of her people, even though she did not know what the outcome would be (4:6-17). [This is an Old Testament example, but so is Daniel 4:32.]
The apostle Paul often used his rights as a Roman citizen to work for his own protection from evil and to help further the gospel. See Acts 22:24-29; 23:12-33; 25:10-12; 16:35-40; Esth. 7:1-6. Our government gives citizens the right to voice their views about who should govern us. If Paul used his rights to protect himself and help further the gospel, why should we not use the right to vote given us by our government? Can we not thereby help protect ourselves and our families from harm, while also helping maintain our freedom to preach and practice the truth?
1 Timothy 2:1,2 shows that we should pray for rulers. Some say this means we should just pray and leave it up to God what to do about government issues. Yet God also tells us to pray for our daily bread (Matthew 6:11). Does this mean we should just sit back and let God do it all, or should we try to find a job and let God use us as the means to answer the prayer? Should we avoid looking for a job because we might take a job other than the one God in His providence wanted us to take?
3 John 2 shows that we should pray for good health. Some people mistakenly believe that going to a doctor shows a lack of faith in God's power to answer prayer. Yet Christians know that the doctor may be the very means God uses to answer the prayer! We all realize that there may be situations in which God does not will for us to get better, but that does not prevent us from going to the doctor. If God has not revealed His will in such specific cases, then we must do what we believe to be best, while yet being willing to submit to a different outcome if that is what results.
In 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 Paul prayed three times for God to remove his thorn in the flesh. Later he learned that God did not will to remove it, but did that mean Paul did wrong in praying the prayer? Would Paul have sinned if he had gone to the physician Luke to help remove the thorn before God revealed His will in the matter?
God does not impute sin to men when they act with good intention in matters regarding which God has not revealed His will (Rom. 4:15; 5:13). When God has not revealed His specific will regarding affairs on earth, we must pray to Him, but we should also do what we can to bring about the answer to our prayer. We should act according to what we believe is best, acting in harmony with the general principles God has revealed. If we do, God will not be displeased with us, even if He does choose some other outcome of events, because He did not reveal His will in these matters. Nevertheless, we should pray for His will to prevail, even if it turns out to differ from our own (Matthew 26:36-46). Consider Esther 4:13-16.
When Christians become active in speaking out against evil in government and voting accordingly, some people claim we should keep our religion out of politics. I deny the premise on which that view is based, but my main point here is that such a view is not a proper statement of the issue. Christians are not the ones who have left our sphere of interest. The problem is that politicians have made a full-scale invasion into the realm of religion and morals! In that realm Christians are not only permitted but obligated to act. I believe this includes the right to vote. But whether or not an individual Christian chooses to vote, we must all find some means to speak out for decency and Divine truth.
And regardless of how the government responds to our efforts, we must continue to live faithfully before God, even if we must suffer at the hands of government officials.
The Bible is the complete and absolute standard of right and wrong. However, it does not directly describe every act we should avoid. It also teaches principles we must apply. The principles we have studied here should be applied carefully when determining whether an act is moral or immoral according to God's word.
Thursday night Bible study discussion archive. Feel free to view and comment on the studies posted here.
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