Some folks -- perhaps many folks -- are nervous in regard to speaking about morality. They are nervous because speaking of morality requires making judgments, and we've been informed that it is improper to judge others. Therefore, we are told we cannot tell others what is right or wrong. We are told that truth is relative to the person.
But wait a minute. What does it mean to make a judgment?
There are three basic kinds of judgments, and everything we do in life is formed around and based on how we judge.
An analytic judgment tells us about the relationships and differences between concepts. Knowing the meaning of the concepts and logically considering them helps us to establish truth. An example is knowing the difference between something that can harm me and what can help me.
Another way of judging is thinking about how things are -- differentiating fact from fancy. This is an empirical observation. An example is knowing that the moon is not made of green cheese. It is an object similar to the earth, made of the same components as that of the earth.
Yet a third kind of judging is an evaluative process that expresses attitude, understanding and belief. It incorporates the previous two kinds of judging but includes the activity of both mind and spirit -- what we think, who we are, what we believe.
Now let's define morals and morality.
Morals are a person's standards of behavior or beliefs concerning what is and is not acceptable for them to do. Morals are the principles we follow that help us know the difference between right and wrong.
Morality is defined as principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behavior, a particular system of values and principles of conduct.
For example, American law says it is wrong to steal, murder, commit perjury, injure a child, and so on. How did we learn it is wrong? Who or what gave anyone the authority to judge whether anything is right or wrong? It's obvious -- we got it from the Bible. And those who wrote the Bible got it from God.
Yes, other cultures have laws similar to what is in the Bible, but they ultimately received the knowledge of right and wrong from the Lord. In the Bible, Romans 2:15 informs us that every person knows instinctively what is right and wrong. We all know that killing, lying, stealing, slandering, and all the rest are wrong. Oh, yes, let's keep in mind what John 7:24 teaches us: Judge with righteous judgment. Stop judging by the way things look but judge by what is really right.
And what is truth? Truth is the actual state of a matter, an adherence to reality, an indisputable fact.
Back to judging.
The order not to make moral judgments requires a judgment of what morality and truth are. Why? People must personally judge what they think is right and wrong. As an example, those who pass laws against so-called hate crimes have just made a complex judgment: they judge what is right and wrong, and they put a sliding scale of the severity of right and wrong.
And those folks are the ones who say it is wrong to judge and that "right and wrong" is not a religious matter but a cultural matter. Interestingly, that is yet another judgment. There is a philosophical and moral breakdown in this logic.
For example, people say terminating the life of a baby is not wrong but to speak out against terminating the life of a baby is wrong. (In truth, aborting the life of a baby is preplanned, and the baby dies. If that is done to a person already born, that is called premeditated murder.) They say living a life devoid of Biblical standards is acceptable (that's a judgment) but talking about the consequences of that lifestyle (which is a judgment) is wrong. People say that yelling "Christians are bigots!" (which is a judgment) is not wrong, but telling non-Christians, "Your lifestyle is wrong" (another judgment) is wrong. And that is yet another judgment.
Bigotry and hatred are attitudes -- judgments. Think that one through.
Many people have been intimidated and are now hesitant about speaking truth. Speaking about morality requires knowledge of and belief in absolute truth. So everyone must make yet another judgment. Will you stand for truth and for what's right, or will you bow to those who disdain truth and righteousness?
Gene Linzey is an author, mentor, speaker and president of the Siloam Springs Writers Guild. Send comments to [email protected] Visit his website at plpubandlit.org. The opinions expressed are those of the author.