What are biblical morals?

Discussion in '2000-02 Archive' started by Gina B, Dec 8, 2002.

  1. Gina B

    Gina B
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    This question is for self-proclaimed liberals. Can you define and provide some examples of biblical morals as opposed to...I don't know, what's the other option? [​IMG] I guess the morals you'd say are good morals and NOT biblical? I've heard people say we should confine biblical morals to church situations, but what are those and how can you tell the difference?
    Gina
     
  2. stubbornkelly

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    Well, okay, I'll bite.

    I strive to keep Biblical morals, and I think everyone should. But that's "should."

    I've talked about separating Biblical mandates from government law, and what I mean when I say that is that the government cannot make laws that can only be backed up with Biblical basis. There can be (and are) laws that do conform to Bibllical standards (murder, stealing), but there are extra-Biblical reasons for such laws. As there must be in anything but a Christian theocracy. To go with my post in your other thread in "all other discussions," if it doesn't have to do with defense, or protecting persons and possessions, the government should not be making laws about it.

    Purely emotional "harm" is not enough to warrant a law.

    Do I believe people can be moral if they do not follow Biblical principles? Actually, yes. I know that sounds strange, but I believe that people can have purely philosophical moral codes. They may differ from the Biblical moral code, and on the surface I might say that some of their actions are immoral. And no, I'm not a moral relativist. To lie is immoral by most ethical codes. As is to break a promise, to murder, and myriad other things. Integrity seems to be the most consistent ruler in moral codes, and integrity can be maintained even through many Biblical transgressions.

    I can go on about this, but wanted to give a brief overview.
     
  3. Gina B

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    Please do go on, I'm interested in your thoughts. If you have some examples of a clear cut moral that isn't at all backed up by scripture but that we as humans abide by anyhow please name it.
    Gina
     
  4. stubbornkelly

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    That's just it. I can't think of any we abide by that aren't written in the Bible. I'll have to sit on that, but off the top of my head, I think they're covered! [​IMG]

    But that's not what I'm getting at. It's not that there are moral things that aren't in there. It's more that I can see the morality of someone who follows a different code, one who doesn't follow all the Biblical mandates.

    I want to be very clear - again, just because it's so important - that I'm not talking about "I'll do what's good for me and you do what's good for you." More that there are some general principles that I do believe are universal moral laws (I'm emphatically not saying that Biblical laws are not, just that for those who don't believe, they can form a reasonably good set of morals based on such universal laws).

    For example - John Stuart Mill's harm principle (as relates to Utilitarianism): the act that carries the least amount of harm to the fewest number of people is the act that should be applied (? - "done" is more correct, but "applied" sounds better). A person who applies this principle consistently has a fairly good moral code by which to live. No, it may not encompass all Biblical mandates, but it is integrally consistent.

    Other people strive for integrity in everything. Others follow - I think it was Kant's idea of constructing a universal question about an act before doing it. For instance - if a person is about to rob a bank, she might ask herself, "How would the world work if everyone robbed banks?" Well, if she's smart, she'll answer, "Not very well, if at all." And if she follows that moral code, she won't rob the bank.

    Another example - I've met people who have sex with others outside their marriage. And they believe they're perfectly moral for doing so. How? Because they standard is about integrity, and they have agreed - with their partner - that monogamy is not essential to their marriage. In their case, keeping one's word is the (one of many) standards they keep, and by not making monogamy part of their marriage contract, nonmonogamy violates no code.

    It's hard to wrap one's mind around that. And I wouldn't say that - following Biblical standards of morality - that that's moral behavior. However, given the standards they have set (which, when viewed without bias, aren't entirely bogus), they've got a workable moral code.

    "Without bias" is the key to understanding how this could be so. Putting on the veil of ignorance, as it were. Use the bias to disagree, of course! But to not try to even understand because of Christian bias strikes me as, well, rather limited. I can't very well have a philosophical argument with someone when all my answers are, "Because the Bible says so." Yes, that answer is good enough for one who has faith in it, and the hope is that, eventually, the one with whom I'm arguing with come to that conclusion as well, but it is pretty futile in such discussions because it uses no logic.

    That's hard to do, and I struggle with it, as I have chosen to follow a Biblical standard. As I said, I don't see some justifiable things as particularly moral, yet at the same time, I can see them within a certain - workable - code of ethics.

    In a not-so-small nutshell, it's not that I think some of the conclusions that can be made using other codes are inherently moral, just that after hearing about the construction of the code, I can understand how the actions done can be considered moral using them.

    And actually, a person could come up with a moral code that matches Biblical mandate without the Bible at all. Now, their reasoning may be different, but the same code could be created. Many people believe in capital punishment (as a "for instance") for non-Biblical reasons. Just as some people are pro-life for non-Biblical reasons. Or stay monogomous. Or are straight. Or don't kill people. Or don't lie. Or fill-in-the-blank.

    And on the legal front, the only moral laws that can be applied by the government are those that can be arrived at using non-Biblical reasoning (in addition to Biblical reasoning, if it's there, which, in many cases, it most likely is). That's not as difficult as it seems. But, there are myriad kinds of reasoning to use, so it's not as easy to come to agreement as it may seem, either.

    Whew! That's some. Once I give my mind a break, I may come back with some more, if you'd like.

    I'm just waiting for the nasty PMs to start coming! ;)
     
  5. stubbornkelly

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    I just thought if what it was. Gina, you said, "I guess the morals you'd say are good morals and NOT biblical?" And I really just realized it's not the morals themselves that are good in such situations. It's that the codes used to conclude them are not bad.

    That's the nutshell I was looking for.
     
  6. Rev. Joshua

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    Gina,

    The difference between secular morality and religious morality is that secular morality has to "make sense" and religious morality does not. Secular morality appeals to certain principles of justice based on one of many philosophical principles that balance the needs of the individual against the needs of the community. The writers of our Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were steeped in the Rationalistic philosophy that defined the principles that govern our society.

    On the other hand, religious morality ultimately appeals to divine authority, as represented by a deity's (or pantheon of deities') scriptures and/or clergy. Therefore, if God (or the gods) commands something, it is the right thing to do even if it doesn't make sense. In addition, religious morality generally assumes some sort of afterlife - therefore actions can be presumed to have eternal rewards even if they have short-term, negative consequences.

    The Bible includes civil and religious laws that span several thousand years, some of which we have kept (murder, for instance) and some of which we have rejected (capital punishment for rebellious children, executing the victims of rape) and some of which we have interpreted away (Jesus' commands of poverty and non-violence). With effort, almost everything the general culture considers "moral" can be defended as such by the Bible. Likewise, everything the general culture considers "immoral" can be found to be condemned by the Bible.

    Interestingly, that continues to be true even as the culture changes (the various writings of the Bible make it a fairly flexible compilation). Southern Baptists used the Bible to defend slavery and racism. The Pilgrims and Puritans used the Bible to defend whipping dissident baptists and executing dissident Quakers (no Pilgrims in our house on Thanksgiving).

    With all that said, there are probably a few things about contemporary American civic morality that would have surprised the biblical writers:

    - Deomocracy, for one - the concept that &lt;i&gt;every&lt;/i&gt; adult regardless of beliefs, wealth, education, social status, sex, etc. has an equal say in the government.

    - Laws protecting equal status for women.

    - The abolition of slavery, which was apparently unthinkable in the early church.

    - extending the concept of "childhood" to the age of sixteen

    Joshua

    [ December 10, 2002, 10:09 AM: Message edited by: Rev. Joshua ]
     
  7. Helen

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    Just a thought here, but it seems to me that perhaps the 'non-biblical morality' is based on human feelings while biblical morality is based on obedience to God.

    Two entirely different bases, and one is extremely shaky and changeable. Given that shakiness and changeability, it would then seem that 'non-biblical morality' is simply a matter of the opinion of those in control at the time.
     
  8. stubbornkelly

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    Well, any non-Biblical ethical code that is valid is not based on feelings, nor is it changeable to allow for certain exceptions.
     
  9. Gina B

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    Next questions. [​IMG]
    Did morals start with God or people? Who started the standard? Why should or shouldn't that change?
    Gina
     
  10. Circuitrider

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    Morals started with God because they are based on God's standard of right and wrong, literally what God has determined is right or wrong. :cool: Men have created their own standard of right and wrong based on human philosoply, fairness, need, etc., :eek: while God's standard was based on righteousness...."...the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it...." [​IMG]

    Men have chosen to have morals or laws (car speed limits are arbitrary limits designed to protect life) which are not necessarily in and of themselves right or wrong from God's standard of righteousness, while God has delegated to mankind the right to enact laws for protection of human life. Thus obeying the speed limit is a matter of right and wrong (oh no, it is a sin to speed... [​IMG] ) though the setting of the actual limit such as 25 mph is arbitrary and a mere function of human reasoning.

    Thus we can change those laws or morals which are based simply on human reasoning, fairness, etc, but God's laws (morals) are absolute. ;) God did make some exceptions in his Word regarding certain laws or morals, but it seems we are limited to his Word for those specific exceptions (e.g. Moses allowing divorce in OT because of the hardness of man's heard).

    That's my take on biblical morality. [​IMG]
     

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