What determines right and wrong? What is the basis of moral values? What principles guide your decision making?
No doubt most of our readers would quickly answer, “The Bible.”
However, in a recent survey released by the Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University, as the fourth installment of the American Values Study, they found most Americans felt differently.
Less than one-third expressed belief that the Bible was the standard for determining right and wrong.
When asked to identify what determined right and wrong, 42% said, “what you feel in your heart.”
Additionally, 29% cited “majority rule” as the determinant of what is right and wrong.
Overall, only 29% expressed faith in the Bible as the basis for deciding right and wrong. However, among those respondents who were identified as “spiritually active,” the figure rose to 66%. But think of one-third of the people who claim to be spiritual, not accepting the Bible as their standard of authority.
Ironically, people expressed support for “traditional moral values,” yet George Barna, the director of the research center said, “less than half of all Americans believe in God or that the Bible is God’s true, relevant and reliable words to humanity.”
It might be easy to dismiss this as not applying to “us.” To “our church.” And “our brethren.”
However, we might be surprised even though people give lip service to the Bible, how many people are guided by feelings instead of “the faith once delivered to the saints (Jude 3). Through the years, I’ve seen too often one’s practice does not align with their profession.
Regarding a doctrinal or moral question, I’ve heard Christians begin the discussion by saying…
“…I don’t believe God will…”
“…It doesn’t make sense that….”
“…God wants me to be happy…”
“…I don’t believe that makes any difference…”
“…that’s what the COC says…”
I fear that even among professed Christians we are too greatly influenced by the idea that truth is relative. Individualism has invaded our thinking to elevate self-satisfaction and self-fulfillment above God’s Word. And the notion often spouted “there are no absolutes,” may have diminished our regard for Divine revelation.
The beginning of any moral, ethical or doctrinal discussion, ought to begin with “what does the Bible say.” A familiar, but relevant scripture that should guide our thinking is found in Paul’s instruction to the evangelist Timothy.
“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
Five important truths are affirmed in this text.
#1 The Scripture shows you what is right.
#2 The Scripture shows you what is wrong.
#3 The Scripture helps you get right.
#4 The Scripture helps you stay right.
#5 The Scripture equips you for every righteous work.
Unfortunately, as George Barna concluded, “Americans have become comfortable with the idea of being the arbiters of morality. In the same way that most Americans contend there is no absolute moral truth, they now believe that there is no divine guidance required or even available to define right and wrong,” he said, lamenting that most Americans “are now more likely to take their moral cues from government laws and policies than from church teachings about biblical principles.”
What the scripture says about right and wrong, supersedes our feelings, popular opinion, political correctness, woke ideology, cultural mores, human philosophy, and creedal edicts issued by churches.
May we return to a slogan oft repeated in bygone years and birthed from a sincere desire to be guided by the Bible, and the Bible only. “Where the Scriptures speak, we speak; where the Scriptures are silent, we are silent.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman