I Hate “Values”

20 May 2014

(Curtis Crenshaw, from my book, NOT Ten Suggestions, available here)

From Fox News, from Bill O’Reilly, from CNN, to American Family Association, I’m constantly hearing about Christian “values,” even from Christian news media, with the assumption that values are based on natural moral law.

But what is natural law? (1) With some, natural law is the right of the individual to decide moral issues without judges or legislation getting in the way. It is just the individual and his conscience. There is no static set of timeless truths, but each individual and each culture morphs into various standards according to the times. Thus for someone to tell a woman that she should not have an abortion is a violation of her right to choose for herself; it is forcing one’s morality on another. Of course, they don’t want to talk about forcing their morality of choice on a baby who then dies. This choice is especially demanded in the area of sexuality. This is what Judge Bork in his excellent book Slouching Towards Gomorrah calls a radical egalitarianism, which means no one can say anyone is wrong about their choices, for all are equal, and there is no God. But if each can choose, what should we do about murder? Government steps in, as it should, but this only reveals that it is impossible to have complete autonomy; there must be limits on what one can choose. How do we define those limits?[1]

(2) With others natural law is the government ruling according to social norms, and the Constitution must be interpreted by those norms. In this view, the Constitution is reinterpreted with each new generation, and this is the way it should be, they think. But this means the Constitution is not really a binding standard, just a wax nose to be manipulated.

(3) With still others, natural law can be an unchanging norm that is discovered by some human process that is devoid of divine input. They would say that there are moral absolutes, such as not murdering one another. But there are so many things that people cannot agree to that this is hopeless.

The problem with natural law in each case is that man discovers it based on who he is rather than it being revealed based on who God is. Suppose all morality was just natural law, which means we just discover it by ourselves, or make it up as we go along. (a) The first problem is the source for it, for if the world is just molecules in motion, how could immaterial morality arise from matter? If nature is all there is, then the way things are is the way they should be.[2] Thus if one is born homosexual, that is the way it should be. Of course, we deny that one is born homosexual but that people choose that lifestyle.

(b) A second problem, if morality is just discovered, is that morality is only conventions agreed to, for the moment. How do we get others to “discover” it, and who will enforce it? What happens if we can’t agree? If no one enforces it, then we have nothing. If we just discover it, how do we explain that all cultures punish people for murder and theft, and look down on adultery? This flux of morality would be like the murderer who thought it was unfair to be prosecuted because he was doing what was “natural,” according to what his wisdom had discovered. Some were predators and some prey. He was a predator, so why punish him for doing what was natural? We don’t punish wolves for being wolves, do we? Moreover, if morality was just a product of people thinking it up, whose thoughts would prevail? It would seem that we would be subject to majority vote so that the next time a Hitler arose, if he had enough votes, murdering Jews and Christians would be acceptable. But we all know that no amount of rational argument can justify murder, or can it? (Can you say “abortion”?)

(c) A third problem is that if moral law is based on human nature, whose human nature? The position usually assumes evolution, which means human nature is constantly changing as it evolves. In fact, some will be more morally advanced than others in their genetic evolution, and all will be different a thousand years from now. What will morality be like then? By contrast, we can trace God’s absolute moral law back thousands of years from now, and it has not changed because He has not changed.

“Modernist lawmaking is based not on morality but on ‘utility’ and ‘rights.’ ”[3] In other words, it is very subjective; it is not concerned with righteousness but with what makes people feel good, what people want. When we give up the objective standard of righteousness, society goes to war to fight over whose rights get upheld and whose rights are violated. This view creates moral civil war. People will say dumb things like “two people can do what they wish as long as it does not hurt anyone.” But that is just the point: All sin hurts those who do it and consequently those around them with whom they have interaction, both public and private. Since morality is a revelation of the character of the Triune God, it is not discoverable; He must reveal Himself to us.

Natural moral law has so far led us in the West to abortion, and is leading us to the destruction of the family with LGBT (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transsexual). It is time we Christians stop catering to the arguments of those who hate God and stand for His law-word. The world has values that constantly change. Christians are adopting their language, trying to appease them, and imposing a Christian standard of “values” on the world. Rather, we Christians could not impose a standard on the world if we had the opportunity; God, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, has already imposed His moral standard, His character, and that is the standard by which we shall be judged. It has been clearly revealed to us in Holy Scripture.

The world tries to have “values,” which reveals that they hate God and are in rebellion. They self-destruct against the rocks of God’s law. Moreover, Christians do not have values either, but only the law-word of the great King. In other words, there is only one morality: God’s character, which does not change.

Another way to say the same thing is that morality is persons in relationship. Morality does not exists in the abstract, but it is assumed by persons who are in some relationship, as employee, spouse, sibling, citizens, and so forth. Thus, to speak of natural law as if it exists apart from persons is nonsense. There is only one perfect moral character, God’s, and thus only one moral law code, God’s. Every law enacted by mankind is either an application of God’s character or an act of rebellion against His character. There are no other options. There are no “values” that we can pick and choose but only the Ten Commandments of the Great King—nothing else. His character rules because He rules. Therefore, let us not talk of the world’s values or the Christian’s values but only the absolute, unbending and unchangeable moral law of the one God, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. People are always bellowing that Christians are trying to impose their standards on the world, but the fact is that God has already imposed His moral character on the world. In fact, no one can be in any relationship without a moral standard, and each person seeks to make his moral standard the norm. The irony is that at the same time that liberals accuse us of imposing their morality on them, they are doing the same with their immorality. It can’t be otherwise. Every law enacted in Congress is someone’s morality (or immorality) imposed on the minority.

(to be continued next time) Ω


[1] Another way to say this is to ask if law is normative or descriptive? If it is normative, there is an unchangeable standard; but if it is just descriptive, then it only “describes” what people do. Those who take surveys to see what people and do and make standards from those surveys are idolaters, using man as the measure of morality.

[2] Philosophers say it this way: What is, is the way it ought to be. Watch for my booklet Is, Can, Ought on my website (www.ftstl.com).

[3] Philip E. Johnson, Reason in the Balance (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1995), p. 139.

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