Dr. Nathan T. Morton
When Did Morality Become Immoral?
As Christians we are called to biblical morality because God is a moral God who has created us in His image for moral living. Leviticus 20:26 clearly assumes this because it commands us to be holy as God is holy. The Apostle Paul utilizes the same logic when he exhorts us to be forgiving in Ephesians 4:32. Every command of God is a divine appeal for us to conduct our lives in a fashion that is consistent with His character.
Furthermore, a Christian ethic is not merely an arbitrary moral code, it is godly principles to be applied in the development of godly virtues. This is neither incidental nor accidental, it is to be intentional as we mature in our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. For example, in the first half of the Ephesian letter Paul tells us what God has done for us and therefore who we are in Christ Jesus. Then in the last half of the letter he calls us to live the kind of life that is consistent with the reality of who we are. The lives we choose to live should be guided by who God has made us to be in Christ Jesus.
But why? If moral living isn’t salvific, why does it matter?
Obedience to the law of God is not the end goal, merely a means to the end. The end goal is our personal intimate relationship with Christ. True obedience is not legalism but rather a passionate loving response to our Sovereign King, for if we love Him, we will keep His commandments. In the same manner true repentance is also a response of love. Paul, in 2 Corinthians 7:10, tells us that godly sorrow produces repentance. What is godly sorrow? It is the sadness we feel when we have hurt someone we love—not the regret of suffering punishment from getting caught.
One of the more recent attacks against the Christian life from within the church is the using of present cultural norms to excuse behaviors that are antithetical to biblical morality. “This is who God created me to be” has become the new mantra of excuse. I have a question; can the kleptomaniac also take advantage of this new mantra? How about the pathological liar? Or are those and other sins not allowed access because they have yet to become cultural norms? Has immorality now become moral?
Let's be honest. Periodically, in our pursuit of obedience, every one of us fails which is why repentance, forgiveness, mercy and grace are all integral parts of the Christian life individually and corporately. However, discarding biblical morality circumvents these four things which in the end will be disastrous. The normalizing of disobedient behaviors may for the moment soothe the conscience of some, but in the end, it demoralizes us all.
Moral living should not be seen as something distinct or outside of Christianity. Biblical morality is something that is embedded within our ongoing relationship with God—something that we mature in as we apply God’s principles in the development of godly virtue. Biblical morality is essential and good for two reasons: God has commanded it because that is His character, and we can live it because of His indwelling Holy Spirit.