I Hate Values (Part 2)

21 May 2014 (continued from 21 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.

Last time we talked about natural moral law, what it is, and how that there is really no such thing. This time we shall look at biblical “natural” law, which is far different from what many think.

What Is Biblical Natural Law?

But in another sense we can say there is natural moral law if by that we mean that we are made in God’s image, consequently we have the “memory” as it were of His morality stamped in us. The Apostle Paul put it this way:

14 for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, 15 who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them) 16 in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel (Romans 2:14-16).

The passage teaches us several things. First, the law that Paul says the Gentiles have is nothing other than God’s commandments; that is clear from the context. In the verses that follow, Paul mentions stealing, adultery, idolatry, and perhaps other commandments. It is therefore not a different law, a “neutral” moral law that the Gentiles or non-Christians dreamed up or discovered.

Second, Paul does not say they have the law in their hearts but the “work of the law written in their hearts,” which is its effects. In other words, the very fact that they have a conscience that accuses and excuses indicates that they are made in His image. Animals don’t think about and debate morality. Accusations and excuses are activities that evidence moral consciousness, the only rationale of which is the effect of God’s law in their hearts.[1] And the fact that their conscience functions with the assumptions of God’s Ten Commandments indicates that they really know God, at least in one sense (Romans 1:21). But they don’t want to know Him because they love their sin (John 3:19-20) so they suppress the truth about Him and His morality. Here is how Paul put it earlier in Romans:

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse (Romans 1:18-20).

God’s existence and morality are “clearly seen” in creation, but they do not want it so they “suppress” it by means of unrighteous practices, saying that they are “free” to do as they like. Sinning boldly is a challenge to God that He is not in charge; they are, and they will have no consequences to their rebellion. Likewise, the Triune God is “manifest in them,” in their conscience as seen in trying to suppress His knowledge as they try to get rid of this constant reminder by giving themselves over to wickedness. Their sinful desires are driving their minds; they are not neutrally investigating morality. Their minds are enslaved to their immorality. What their hearts love, their wills embrace, and their minds justify. They suppress God’s existence by devising alternative theories for our existence, such as evolution, which leaves them “free” to devise alternative theories of morality. In the same passage, here is what Paul says they wish to practice:

26 For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their [females] exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. 27 Likewise also the [males], leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due (Romans 1:26-27).

Notice how I translated “women” and “men” above as “females” and “males.” There were several choices Paul the Apostle had in words for women and men, but he uses the rare word for “female” and the more certain word for “male” because he is making a deliberate connection to Genesis 1:27 in the Greek translation of the Old Testament where these same Greek words are used:

So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

The original creation, Paul implies, was one male and one female. That is the standard.

Robert A. J. Gagnon, The Bible and Homosexual Practice, demonstrates from dozens of sources from classical Greek (Plato and others), from Jewish sources between the Old and New Testaments, and from those outside the New Testament who nevertheless lived during the time of the Apostles,[2] that “natural use” and “against nature” were set phrases that referred to heterosexual and homosexual behavior respectively with no known exceptions.[3]

But the point is that they cannot live in God’s world without assuming His existence and His morality, for they self-destruct (“receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due”). This “error” would seem to be apostasy from God, then “burning,” which is ever increasing and intense lusts that can never be satisfied, that finally leads to diseases from aberrant sexual practices (Exodus 15:26; Leviticus 26:16) and to final judgment at the Last Day. Moreover, such practices lead them to mental distress, depression, and to suicide, which is very high among homosexuals. LGBT insider Tammy Bruce reports that male homosexuals are pursuing unprotected sex even when they know it will lead to disease,[4] which is a death wish. This is a rebellion to God that they can do as they please without consequences. His response is to turn them over to their lusts for destruction and to a warped mind:

24 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves . . . 26  For this reason God gave them up to vile passions . . . 28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting (Romans 1:24, 26, 28).

This dishonoring of God leads to the dishonoring of self. Though not every idolater gives himself (or herself) to same sex unions, Paul seems to be saying that just as those who reject God suppress the truth about Him (v. 18), so many who reject Him also suppress the truth about same sex unions. Therefore, three times we see that God gave them over to their lusts and to a debased and warped mind. If they reject Him, His creation, and His morality, He will reject them, but if they reach out to Him, He will forgive and heal (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).

To put it another way, if one loses sight of the vertical, he loses sight of the horizontal. If one denies the Christian God and creation, he denies human relationships. If one cannot define the vertical, he cannot define the horizontal, for the vertical is the standard of measure for the horizontal. If there is no God who created us male and female and told us to fill the earth with children, then we can redefine the family to be two of the same gender who by definition cannot produce prodigy to fill the earth. Thus, their kingdom self-destructs.

Therefore, in two areas they suppress the truth so as to distort the natural law of their conscience: (1) they devise alternatives theories of our origin, denying creation and the Creator, (2) which in turn leads them to devise alternative theories of morality, denying their conscience, the image of God within them, and God’s morality.

Secularists accuse Christians of trying to impose “religion” on society, for wanting to impose our morality. First, as we in Part 1, there is only one morality—God’s. Second, if God’s morality is the only one, He has already imposed it. Third, the secularists are imposing their ungodly immorality on society, and they are doing so in the name of their god—secularism. It is not a question of imposing; it is only a question of WHO is imposing WHAT.

Of course we can argue for God’s morality to our culture without using Scripture, but we cannot argue for it without assuming Scripture.[5] Christians become embarrassed over believing the Bible so they want to distance themselves from it when dealing with non-Christians. It seems better to assume it and then argue one’s case, for that is what God Himself does in scripture. Non-Christians don’t get to determine the evidence or how we present it to them—God does.

Thus, there is no natural, morally neutral moral law that is for all faiths, for each law-giver would imply another god. We would then have many gods, all competing for worshippers.

Become like what they worship. If one worships secularism, he’ll impose that morality. If one worships the Triune God, he’ll recognize God’s law as the standard. Human nature is fallen, which means the hearts of all people are sinful so that there is no neutral moral law code in our hearts but rather a law giver over our hearts—the Triune God. To assert that there is neutral morality implies a god who is neutral, but we have seen that such thinking is rebellious to the one and only Triune God who is infinitely holy, not neutral. Muslims murder innocent people, treat women terribly, and “marry” little girls before puberty because Mohammed was a pedophile. Moreover, Allah does not love and with only one person in him (it), even he/it is not a person and does not value relationships.

Here is how Jeremiah put it:

The heart isdeceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:9).

Amen. Ω

 

[1] John Murray, The Epistle to the Romans (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1959), 1:55-56.

[2] Such as Philo and Josephus.

[3] Robert A. J. Gagnon, The Bible and Homosexual Practice (Nashville: Abington Press, 2001), 500 plus pages. See especially chapter four.

[4] Tammy Bruce, The Death of Right and Wrong (New York: Three Rivers Press, 2003), p. 96ff. The movement is known as “bareback,” risking and even seeking to get some disease as a badge of honor to one’s freedom and challenge to God’s authority. (See my comments on this book in the Bibliography at the end of the book.)

[5] John Frame, The Doctrine of the Christian Life (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2008), p. 242ff.

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