Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Morality Week: Biblical "Morality"

Christians tend to argue one of two positions.
  1. Religion provides our morality through scripture.
  2. Morality is objective and we all have a God-given sense of right and wrong.
The first is pretty straight forward, and I’ve found that the second eventually leads to the first. For example, a theist can argue a moral value against rape and murder is universal and use this as evidence that the value originates with God. Yet the same theist sees a similar moral truth in an issue like homosexuality, which is far from universal. In the U.S., roughly half the population is in favor of gay marriage, which implies they don’t find gay sex immoral, while the other half votes against it. If we are supposed to have a sense of God’s morality, why do so many not have said sense on homosexuality? The theist may argue we simply ignore our sense in supporting gay rights, but in doing so they presume to know how everyone in the world feels. I can only know how I feel. I feel that hot man-on-man love (or better yet, woman-on-woman love) is not immoral.

Christians use the Bible to define their morality and claim the values within as moral truths. Below are moral values taken from the Bible that otherwise have no reasoning behind them.
  • Having other gods is immoral.
  • Making graven images is immoral.
  • Using God’s name in vain is immoral.
  • Working on Sunday is immoral.
  • Fornication is immoral.
  • Homosexuality is immoral.
  • Masturbating is immoral.
I could get into the really strange morality-guiding rules in the Bible, (it’s immoral to wear wool and linen woven together apparently) but I’d rather stick with the stuff the least amount of theists will argue about. The first three would never be immoral if not for the Bible. They are simply rules to keep you believing once you already believe. The Sabbath rule is arbitrary no matter how you look at it. So far, the list has been taken directly from the gold standard of morality as argued by nearly every theist I’ve engaged--the ten commandments. The last three make certain sex acts immoral. Without the Bible, I can think of no reason for these to be immoral. If you have a reason, let me know in the comments.

As is the theme of Morality Week, morality should be based on reasoning, not based on a book written well over a thousand years ago. Equating scripture to moral truth, using moral truth to prove God, and using God to prove the validity of scripture is typical theist circular logic. Worse, the idea of moral truth needing no explaination is dangerous. A theist doesn’t just believe abortion in morally wrong, they know it is evil. This gnostic morality is what leads to clinic bombings. If I knew I was stopping evil at the pleasure of the Almighty, who know’s what I’d be tempted to do. I realize clinic bombers are a rare extreme, probably driven by a mental disease more than religion, but to a lesser extent this moral gnostism is what ruins many families with gay children.


  1. Not to mention the fact that going by the Old Testament god really seems to think rape is a-okay so long as it's some lesser ethnic group you're doing it to. Isaiah 13:15-16 makes that unpleasant truth pretty clear.

    1. I will add that to my list.. I ususally go with Deut 22:29-29. It's the verse where rape is okay, as long as the rapist pays her dad and marries her. How romantic.