|Series Theme: Difficult Questions|
Title: 14. Isn't the idea of right and wrong outdated?
A series that helps consider difficult questions of the Christian faith
In the United Kingdom, for instance, we've progressed to see that everyone's view is equally important, so doesn't that mean that the idea of fixed ideas of what is 'right or wrong' have been abolished?
The question indicates a surface understanding of our society. In reality it is far from what you describe.(see more on our 'Apologetics' pages)
Modern Day Life
There was a time, recorded in the Bible, when ‘everyone did as he saw fit' (Judges 21:25 ). That fairly well describes how life is in our country today. We are, say the people who study these sorts of things, a ‘Pluralist Society', which means a country where lots of ideas, opinions or principles exist within the same society. The word that is applauded in a pluralistic society is ‘tolerance' and tolerance means you respect and put up with everyone else's ideas.
Tolerating Many Ideas and Opinions?
It sounds good at first sight but in fact it doesn't work. Think about it. Our society, and the media that reflect it, are tolerant of anything, except extremes, well some extremes! For instance the media is intolerant of far right wing parties who are in turn intolerant of certain minority groups. Now as much as many of us may agree that such right wing parties are socially (and morally?) unhealthy who, in a pluralist society, is to decide what is right or wrong? Who actually has the right to say it's wrong? That's the problem with pluralism.
The reality is, however, that we still do consider things right or wrong, it's just that the view varies from your particular perspective. So, we have a society that loves to debate ‘issues' because if no one is right, then there's everything to discuss.
Another area where the media is intolerant is in respect of religious groupings who clearly believe something and stand up for it. True Christianity has been derided because it says the Bible is true. Derision is the weapon of the intolerant who claim to be tolerant! Watch your TV and see.
The Failure of Pluralism
On a good day when the sun is shining we may be tempted to think that our society has got it right, but that's a good day when we forget the statistics that the media pour out to us, of broken families, of pregnant teenagers, of teenage suicides, of fatherless children, of sexual abuse in families, of sexual disease epidemics, of violence in schools, hospitals and on the streets, of society in debt, of alcohol abuse and violence, of drug addiction in mammoth proportions; these are the fruits of this ‘pluralistic society'.
If we dare stop and think about it, this ‘anything goes' society of ours is in trouble, serious trouble, and it's getting worse. Be under no illusion!
The Forbidden Subject
In our world where optimism is the driving tool for a brave new tomorrow, each of us is aware of one particular truth but it is strangely a truth that almost seems must never be spoken, that we're not actually very nice!
Ask any group of thinking people, “Do we need Laws?” and the answer is almost invariably, yes. When asked why, answers will be, “To protect the weak” or “Because people aren't nice and need restraining.” Yes, that IS the truth but we're afraid to speak about it because we don't know how to handle it, we don't know what to do with it.
"I'm not nice????"
Many of us feel offended if this is suggested of us, but that's simply because we're afraid of what it implies. You see, in this ‘pluralistic society' we've actually grown tolerant of bad behaviour, bad attitudes and bad words. Well who's to say they're bad, goes the argument? We all know they are but we only say it when we're with others who agree with us.
Yes, we may say, murder is wrong, rape is wrong, violence is wrong (when it's not me doing it), stealing is wrong, cheating at exams is wrong (except when it's me do it), those things are fairly clear ‘ because they probably aren't things ‘I' do.
Hey, check it out, be real about yourself. What are you really like? Never have an unkind thought about others, never say a word out of place, are completely selfless? Check out some words the Bible speaks about; see if these are characteristics of YOUR life: ‘love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control'. If you can't say that those genuinely describe you, all the time, then you're NOT a nice person. Welcome to the club!
Guilt and Shame
We don't like to admit these things because when we're blasting at someone else, deep down we feel guilty. We try to cover it up by justifying it, everyone does it, as if that makes it all right. The reality is that many of us feel bad about our lives because, deep down, we're ashamed of what we're sometimes like and wish we could be different. Yet we feel stuck in this hopeless position.
Diagnosis before Prescription
That's the order that a doctor follows. The Bible uses one word to summarise all of this ‘not niceness' that we find in ourselves and in the world around us, Sin. One of the primary characteristics of ‘sin' is self-centredness that leads us to fight for our corner and oppose others who aren't immediately for us. We get defensive so we fight. That's sin, and it harms and hurts us.
The God Aspect
But sin has an even more important characteristic, godlessness. 70% of this country say they believe in God and the vast majority live as if there is a God, even if they don't want to know about Him. Why don't they? Because of sin. We just said it; it's one of the characteristics, a bizarre characteristic that keeps us from knowing the most wonderful Being that there is. Does God seem a million miles away? That's the ‘sin thing' working in you. The truth is that He's just a prayer away from you.
The Bible and Truth
The reason Christians are so keen on the Bible is that it so accurately describes our condition and it tells us about God, who really is our only hope. You see the Bible says ‘God is love'. Note the word ‘is'. Everything about God is love, every word, every action. Yes, there is much to explain (that you will find covered on other pages of this site) but for the moment, please accept this truth: God is love and God loves YOU. Yes you do suffer from sin and yes, you are not always nice, but God has done something about that.
Dealing with Guilt
Guilt, say psychologists, is one of our biggest problems. We can say sorry but, deep down, we know that we deserve punishment. (Doesn't the Law teach us that wrong doers should be punished?). Now supposing someone came to you and said, “I'm going to step into your shoes and take every ounce of punishment you deserve”. Probably you would think, “You can't do that, how can you actually do that?” but suppose that really was a possibility, that someone could actually, genuinely, take the punishment that, deep down, you believe ought to be yours. Suppose that was genuinely a possibility?
This is where the time-space, historical fact of the coming of Jesus Christ comes into it. The evidence shows that this person was more than a mere man, and this person was killed by crucifixion and then rose from the dead after three days.
The Bible reveals that this man was, in fact, God's Son, and the death he died was your punishment. Because he was, and is, God, he could take the punishment of every single person in that one act. Difficult to believe? Maybe, but that's the truth that the Bible declares and through the centuries millions of people have found that when they simply believe that and come to God seeking the forgiveness He offers and the ongoing love He offers, their lives have been transformed.
Relationship not Religion
This is the offer, of a relationship with God through what His Son, Jesus Christ, has done. Religion is people trying to appease God, trying to do things to get on God's good side, and religion doesn't work, it just emphasises our weakness and our failure. No, true Christianity is all about having a living relationship with God on the basis of what Jesus Christ has done. When we ask for that, God comes and helps and guides us and those characteristics that we considered earlier ‘love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control' can become genuine, real experiences with His help.
Think it Through
Please, reread this page again and tell us what bit of it is untrue. Have we wrongly described our society? Have we wrongly described our own individual state? We're only saying what that most accurate of books, the Bible, is saying. The diagnosis is accurate because it is God's diagnosis. The answer is there and it's real and been proved true by millions, both in the past and all round the world today, because it's God's answer. His love is there to be received. Millions of us testify: we're not perfect, God is still working on me, but I know I'm loved and it's great! That could be YOUR testimony. It's just a prayer away.
The Way to Peace
How can you respond to this? The following is a guide:
1. Acknowledge the truth about yourself - you do miss the target, you're not always a nice person, you do need God's forgiveness and help, and tell God it.
2. Accept the truth about Jesus Christ - that he is God's Son and he has taken your punishment, and tell God it.
3. Ask for God's forgiveness on the basis of what you have read here, ask Him to come into your life and lead and guide and change it.