“In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” Judges 21:25
The majority perspective in our country and for much of our world today is found in this statement by an atheist: “I have been told that without God there can be no morals and that as an atheist I can have no morals. I disagree. I believe in love, hope, honor, loyalty, honesty, trust, respect, etc. Those things don’t come from God. They come from within and from human interaction. If you need God to tell you what is wrong and what is right and you can’t figure it out on your own, then you may be part of the problem.”
This atheist has indeed put the question squarely in front of us: Can you have morality without God? The answer, I believe, is no. Why? Because when God goes, anything and everything goes. When you try to make right and wrong a matter of human choice, human reason, or human decision you are out on a limb that will break every time.
Just listen to what the Scripture says about the reliability of human reasoning. Proverbs 16:25 says, “There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” And what about the popular advice to just, “follow your heart...” What does the Bible say? “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). Judges 19-21 gives us the ugliest story in the Bible. Rape, murder, and a host of other despicable acts run rampant in these pages of history. And yet at every stage, the Israelites were acting on what they thought was, “Right in their own eyes” (Judges 21:25). It never occurred to any of them that they were doing what was wrong because everyone was “trusting his gut.”
Human reasoning, logic, or emotions is an unreliable moral compass. No person is capable of determining what is ultimately right and wrong. There is no one worthy of that act…no one fit for that job. Our moods shift daily based on circumstances, experiences, and even hormone and blood sugar levels. Our ideals and beliefs are capable of changing based on popular opinion or new information. We cannot see the future or even understand the past. We are not all knowing.
One of two things is true. Either what is right is what is deemed right based on our own standards (right and wrong is relative), or what is right is what is deemed right based on God’s standards (right and wrong is absolute). Both cannot be true. It must be one or the other. Only God is worthy of establishing true morality.
Application: Are you living based on your own moral code, or are you living according to God’s Word?