How Culture is Rejecting Biblical Morality & How to Refute It

by Cris D. Putnam
Biblical-Morality-SuppressedThis essay will address the ways the culture is challenging and rejecting God’s revealed understanding of moral right and wrong and suggest some useful counter arguments. Because God has revealed his moral standards in the pages of scripture, these are necessarily challenges to biblical morality. This suggests two principle areas of attack: 1) the Bible and 2) the existence of objective morality. The atheist denies biblical morality by definition but these assaults come from liberal Christians and other religions as well. While they are often used together, this essay will examine each line of attack, the way it is used and its problems. The denial of Gods’ revealed moral standards entails suppressing the truth and inevitably leads to logical or moral inconsistency (Rom 1:18-21).

The first challenge to biblical morality entails attacking the Bible. This assault assumes various forms and comes from liberal Christianity as well as from secularists. The most dangerous is the former because it often persuades new believers and confuses less knowledgeable conservatives. Challenges from scholars like Bart Ehrman focus on the text and argue that we cannot trust it to be accurate. If we do not have God’s words, we do not have his morals. Others argue that the Bible is culturally bound and not applicable to modern culture. This spans the gap from the egalitarians who seek to usurp biblical gender roles in order to promote female clergy to radical homosexual revisionists indulging in the most incredible eisegesis to assert that the Bible is silent concerning homosexuality. As noted by Francis Schaffer, the slippery slope argument validly applies because the former very often leads to the latter.[1]

Other nominal Christians dismiss the Bible as the deeply flawed product of an ancient patriarchal culture. Radical theologian John Shelby Spong epitomizes the wholesale dismissal of biblical morality by suggesting it promotes slavery and demeans women:

The Bible has been used for centuries by Christians as a weapon of control. To read it literally is to believe in a three-tiered universe, to condone slavery, to treat women as inferior creatures, to believe that sickness is caused by God’s punishment and that mental disease and epilepsy are caused by demonic possession. When someone tells me that they believe the Bible is the ‘literal and inerrant word of God,’ I always ask, ‘Have you ever read it?’[2]

This exemplifies a wholesale compromise with culture. Although he was an Episcopal Bishop it is hard to call him a Christian in any significant way. Truthfully, he is not that far from the atheists.

Atheists deny God’s morality by denying He exists. Still, they attack the Bible to support their position. Often this results in inconsistency. For instance, on one hand they will dismiss the historical narrative of the Bible as a Jewish legend while on the other hand they will use Joshua’s conquest as an example of genocide. In so doing they claim that if he does exist, God is a moral monster. Richard Dawkins has infamously argued:

The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.[3]

In like fashion, Dawkins’ cohort the deceased anti-theist Christopher Hitchens not only dismissed biblical morality but also leveled moral judgment against it in his best seller God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything. The atheist not only rejects God’s moral standards he brands them evil. However, conceding the existence of evil falsifies the second line of attack. If evil exists objectively, then moral relativism has a problem.

The second major way biblical morals are rejected is by denying the existence of objective morality. Known as moral relativism, it rules out the possibility of a transcendent moral law revealed by God. On this view, morality is culturally defined and relative to a particular group. Thus, the majority decides what is morally virtuous and what is not. In effect, it amounts to “the mob rules.” Although it is immensely popular with secular humanists and liberals, history demonstrates that even its staunchest promoters cannot consistently live according to its tenets.

According to moral relativism, it is immoral for one group to judge another by its own standards.  In order to discourage the practice, relativists apply discouraging labels like ethnocentrism. Similarly, the term religiocentrism denotes the conviction that one’s religion is superior to others. Often these are paralleled to racism for emotional effect. They oppose biblical morality as a form of cultural imperialism by asserting that its objective moral truth claims are wrongful impositions. Although this absolute is smuggled in the back door, they ignore the inconsistency. Accordingly, they really do not live by their stated beliefs.

Relativists are only relativists when it suits them. From their stated beliefs, it follows that if the majority decides genocide or racism benefits the group then it should be deemed morally virtuous. Apart from an objective standard, there is no warrant to criticize atrocities like the holocaust. Yet, the Allies appealed to an objective standard and went to war against the Nazis. Furthermore, it turns great moral reformers like Martin Luther King into immoral rabble-rousers. King also appealed to a transcendent moral standard against the prevailing tide of the culture. A consistent relativist would have to reject his claims and support the racist consensus. Most liberals idealize King so this is a very effective defeater.

Extreme examples have a way of clarifying the issue. One might ask the relativist “Name a circumstance when killing children for fun is morally virtuous?” If they agree there is not one, then they have conceded a moral absolute. This demonstrates that given relativism there are no real moral values, merely opinions, like tastes in ice cream. Given relativism, one cannot consistently say “racism is wrong” or “discriminating against homosexuals is wrong.”  They can only say, “I don’t like it.” Relativism actually destroys morals. Moral relativism is an incoherent concept that all rational people should abandon. In truth, it amounts to moral nihilism.

The culture denies biblical moral standards by attacking the Bible or the notion that moral standards are objective. They might deny God exists, that he has spoken through scripture, or that scripture is reliably preserved. They might also question the existence of objective morality. In so doing, they run the risk of embracing moral anarchy. These points lead to the conclusion that the Apostle Paul was right in connecting the suppression of truth in unrighteousness with increasingly futile thinking and a seared conscience.

 

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[1] Francis A. Schaeffer, The Great Evangelical Disaster (Westchester, Ill.: Crossway, 1984), 136.

[2] John Shelby Spong, “Q&A on the Bible as a weapon of control,” cited at http://www.religioustolerance.org/imm_bibl.htm (accessed October 23, 2013).

[3] Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion, (Great Britain: Bantam Press, 2006), 31,

About Cris Putnam
Logos Apologia is the ministry of Cris D. Putnam. The mission of Logos Apologia is to show that logic, science, history and faith are complementary, not contradictory and to bring that life-changing truth to everybody who wants to know.

Comments

  1. louthesaint says:

    Good article Mr Putman; The amount of times I have been told that I am living in the dark ages indeed confirms what you are saying.
    The average person has lost all sense of conscience (fools professing wisdom) Dawkin is the perfect example.

    “The tree of the knowledge of Good & Evil is desirable to make One wise” Gen3:6 an earthly demonic wisdom it is indeed, siding with Evil James3:15

    Evil must run it’s course until such Time as the Cup of the Wrath of God overfills…….Then watch out!

    • banana breath says:

      Too bad every ‘Dark Age’ in history was the decline of a society and a decline of morals.

      • louthesaint says:

        This is the only Dark age where ‘technology’ abounds in the spreading of Good & Evil.
        Let us be aware that even the good in this world as it’s origin in the Tree that was desirable to make one Wise Gen3:6

        • hopeful_watcher says:

          Louis… Hence my position in my thesis called “Woe to us when good defeats evil.”

          The premise is that Satan’s ultimate play is not for “evil” to win, but to use evil to provoke a response from the worldly good, which he in turns shapes into the unified, Babylon system. This good is a moral good that is void of holy righteousness and will ensnare many lukewarm Christians.

          • louthesaint says:

            yes Hopeful i read your Thesis some time ago. This is the game ‘Pontifex Maximus Francis’ is bringing into the final stages.
            Mystery Babylon the Great Whore appeals to the sensuality of the flesh in many ways and loved by the world. A sharp contrast she is to the woman in the wilderness.

  2. Beano says:

    No, no, Mr. Dawkins what you LABELED GOD is what YOU HAVE BECOME! Indeed, all people who reject God become that way.

    Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. You cannot violate this law without becoming a hypocrite Mr. Dawkins. And you have been outed as a FRAUD!

  3. Patrick Adrien Varencaus says:

    The bible is The word of The Creator / fact&evidence (tons of it ) So if God is real so is satan=the adversary, and God IS LOVE / NOT AS SOME SORT OF LOVE !So the adversary or the ultamite looser is the total opposite Hate ,death ,corruption ,deseases,war ect he hates mankind with a passion ! look around wath do you see? His fruits (rotten and poisoness) take your head out of the sand your a human a creature made in God image , not an austrige! Dont beleive me , but dare seek the truth=Christ( by the way) cry out to him sincerely/sin=cancer and hes the only remedy his blood shed VOLUNTARY for you ! You must be worth something hey? The devils sure is doing over time destroying cause of his pride he is seen as the ulltamite looser and lower than you! Proof ? are you blind ? you can even smell it then!! REPENT AND BELEIVE / FREE +ETERNAL RELATIONSHIP WITH THE BEST ! DARE !

  4. Quentin Reynolds says:

    The prevalence of evil in this world is growing exponentially every day. Just when I think I’ve seen the worst, something else leaves me dumbfounded the next day. I often encounted people blasting away at Christianity, a local church has a “Judgment Night” set up for Halloween and a local newspaper condemned them for frightening children with a place of fire and torture if the didn’t believe in Jesus. I replied asking if he would please do the same analysis and condemn Islam as well or was it just the peaceful religions he condemned. My comments didn’t make it past the moderators of course. Complete ignorance is a major problem as well. One of the commenters kept bashing the “Christian’s immoral and awful God who condonned rape and murder,,,,” while simultaneously saying she had converted to Judaism, ignorant of the fact that she was using Old Testament Levitical Law as her grounds for bashing God. I replied also to her to show her the error and that the very laws she was using to condemn Christianity are the same laws she was supposed to be living by. These comments didn’t make it by the moderators either. Ignorance has fed the immorality and immorality is feeding the beast. God said it would be like this, I shouldn’t be amazed, yet the extent of it and the sheer violence and hatred toward anything Godly has daily left me shaking my world weary head. I’ll keep fighting for sure, but I am more than ready to go home.

    • Cris Putnam says:

      Turns out the so-called “tolerance” crowd is not very tolerant of people they disagree with.

    • wisefool says:

      I refer to those who publicly criticize Chrsitianity as ‘bold cowards’. They know the Christians won’t fight back. At the same time they won’t publically criticize Islam for fear of retrobution. Do they reall think no one sees this?. Every political move that is going on right now, especially in the U.S. is anti-Christian at it’s core. Obamascare has everything to do with giving gov control over healthcare so at some point the power will be there to mandate anything they want including The MARK. The whole purpose for the MARK is to weed out Christians. I believe in a pre-trib rapture, but it doesn’t mean I personally will make it to that point. The humanzee in office can’t wait to start the culling here in the U.S.

  5. banana breath says:

    Moral relativity is easily defeated (as this article describes). The most common answer I hear from an ‘Atheist’ is morals were invented by society so we can ‘all get along’ or preserve a stable society. For one they can never answer who, how, or when, so it’s a complete fabrication on their part (blind faith), but we aren’t exactly ‘getting along’ either, and stability is out the window. The degenerates use language manipulation and word smithing (social programming) to downplay what defines sin as well.

  6. Mark says:

    The bible/torah is being dicredited because of recent discovers of Sumerian text(s) written over 2000 years before the 500BCE Babylonian Torah was created.
    Example. The Epic of Gilgamesh is almost a word for word account of the Genesis deludge. But the Epic was written at least 1500 years before the Torah story.

    And when you connect the dots of REAL history to those portrayed in the holy books. You will find almost identical scenarios. But with REAL etched in stone actors. Such as Sargon I, II. Sargon is well known throughout Mesopatamia. While an Egyptian prince called Moses (Mosha) is but a character invented by an outcast nomadic tribe.
    So critical and logical researchers can compare more ancient writings and script to the bible/torah and see the desception(s) foisted on mankind.

    • jaz says:

      However; these ancient scripts did not foretell the coming of Messiah and of His atonement for Sin, A reality only found in the Bible/Torah. There is no deception about man/humans being sinners in need of salvation.

      Furthermore; these scripts may be older, But The book of Genesis written by Moses is the truthful account of the creation before nothing was.
      (Truth/divine revelation is not subjected to Time) “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God”
      Jesus is the manifestation of that Word that was in the beginning.

  7. Paul says:

    Other nominal Christians dismiss the Bible as the deeply flawed product of an ancient patriarchal culture. Radical theologian John Shelby Spong epitomizes the wholesale dismissal of biblical morality…

    Although he was an Episcopal Bishop it is hard to call him a Christian in any significant way.

    Of course he’s not a Christian — can you imagine what Paul or Peter would have said of such a man? Even the minister in my former liberal church viewed him as a wolf, having watched helplessly as a sizeable chunk of the eldership along with others in his congregation fell under the spell of this man and eventually turned away from belief in the divinity of Christ. A couple of the female elders in the church adored ‘Jack’ so much that they invited him to speak there. I remember that he was smooth as glass. (I also remember seeing him on a televised discussion about Christianity, the producers’ idea apparently being that he would be a foil for the other panellist, Christopher Hitchens. After much talk, the latter confessed with surprise, “I seem to be pushing at an open door here with the bish”.)

    And I have to say that your statement applies to the congregations in liberal churches in general: it’s hard to call them Christians, since they do not really believe and trust the word of God and so have all manner of heterodox ideas which are often totally incompatible with the basic tenets of the faith. …I know, since I was one myself for many years (much longer than I’ve been a born-again believer), and during that time had the opportunity to speak with many liberals. …And although great numbers have been saved out of Islam or the New Age or Romanism, far fewer make it out of liberal churches. I remember some years ago hearing a recording of a talk by Walter Martin in which he stated plainly that liberal theology was the most dangerous yet least feared threat to the church (and he used blunt terms like ‘heresy’ in describing liberal doctrines).

    And it’s true to say that liberalism has led to the near-universal embrace of sexual immorality in the culture (although other ideologies have undoubtedly contributed to other forms of immorality: for example, capitalist consumerism has bred a sort of materialistic idolatry which, combined with the covetousness fostered by leftism, has yielded an unholy ‘perfect storm’). However, one also finds elements of sexual liberalism amongst so-called bible-believing evangelicals, who may vocally (and correctly) denounce homosexuality as a sin, yet who tend to be less concerned with the Bible’s commandments to heterosexuals.

    For instance, I have noticed that women in evangelical churches may be rather conservative in many ways, but yet have absorbed feminism. One of the long-standing goals of feminism has been to remove all stigma from female sexual sin, in order to allow women to be “sexually liberated” (i.e. promiscuous/adulterous) without any censure, and this is something the church has singularly failed to address. So whilst denunciations from the pulpit of the use of pornography — a male sin, or at least generally regarded as such — are now common and receive approval from women, reading certain Scriptures (for example Deuteronomy 22, or even the allegory in Ezekiel 16) would be guaranteed to produce deep distaste, and likely outright offence, amongst women who yet profess to “love God’s Word”, since they have in practice accepted the cultural norm which states that what the Bible unflatteringly terms “playing the whore” is merely a woman’s “asserting her sexual independence”.

    More alarmingly, I’ve heard from many men that their expressing a (soundly Biblical) preference to marry a virgin was uniformly met with horror from women in church, who then attempted to shame the men for being “judgmental” or “lacking grace” — even in the case when such a man had himself denied his own lusts in order to remain chaste for his bride (it’s striking that a man’s expressing a preference to marry a virgin would have been totally unremarkable throughout most of Judaeo-Christian history — and utterly normal in Biblical times, even when the man himself was not a virgin — yet for even a male virgin to do so in the modern church is sure to bring down the fury of Lilith upon his head).

    Lastly, it’s often said (usually by liberals) that the church is obsessed with sexual sin at the expense of other sins. However, sexual sin strikes so deeply and damages not only individuals, but marriages, families, communities and society as a whole, that it cannot be taken seriously enough. And most importantly, it is deeply offensive to God. Indeed if one reads the Bible cover to cover, it becomes pretty clear that God Himself is pretty obsessed with it too.

  8. hopeful_watcher says:

    Read what a theological pretzel Catholics are having to under go to defend the Pope’s stance on those who follow their good consious can get to heaven.

    Snipped from a Catholic theologean (an oxymoron if you ask me)
    If a non-Christian believer is sincere in his disbelief, he does not sin to the extent of actual mortal sin in rejecting the Church, and so he can still be saved —by at least an implicit baptism of desire and, if he does sin gravely in some area of life, by at least implicit perfect contrition. And if a non-believer (atheist, agnostic) is sincere in his disbelief, he does not sin to the extent of actual mortal sin in rejecting the Church, and so he can still be saved, in much the same way.

    Non-Christian believers and non-believers can enter the state of grace by the love of neighbor, and can return to that state after actual mortal sin by implicit perfect contrition. For the true selfless love of neighbor always includes, at least implicitly, the love of God.
    End snip

    What rubbish!

  9. bert says:

    Chris, I admire the beauty of your writing.

    RE: Pope Francis and the moral relativism of the 60s.

    I was stunned with the election of a Jesuit to the pontificate, and I’m not Catholic. Who would have thought? But, we deal with that which is before us. The Pope’s pronouncements are “straight from the text” of those who apparently instructed him in that evil time of darkness known as the 60s. Virtually “all” is possible with a Jesuit of the “new school” of theology (Rahner, for example), save that of the absolutes of the Creator of All. Then Protestants, always somewhat behind their Catholic counterparts, signed the accord, “Evangelical and Catholics Together” in 1994, and the destruction of contemporary Christendom was assured. Ours will become a jolly time in which we first observe the possibilities and pronouncements of the “new” moral law, and then be subject to the agonies of a culture in death throes subsequent to embracing the labyrinthine maze of supposedly “new” moral twists and turns. One can only pray with fervor that our LORD will hasten His return, in human terms, rather than divine.

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