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How Culture is Rejecting Biblical Morality and How to Refute It

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This essay will address the ways the culture is challenging and rejecting God’s revealed understanding of moral right and wrong and suggest some useful counter arguments. Because God has revealed his moral standards in the pages of scripture, these are necessarily challenges to biblical morality. This suggests two principle areas of attack: 1) the Bible and 2) the existence of objective morality. The atheist denies biblical morality by definition but these assaults come from liberal Christians and other religions as well. While they are often used together, this essay will examine each line of attack, the way it is used and its problems. The denial of Gods’ revealed moral standards entails suppressing the truth and inevitably leads to logical or moral inconsistency (Rom 1:18-21).

The first challenge to biblical morality entails attacking the Bible. This assault assumes various forms and comes from liberal Christianity as well as from secularists. The most dangerous is the former because it often persuades new believers and confuses less knowledgeable conservatives. Challenges from scholars like Bart Ehrman focus on the text and argue that we cannot trust it to be accurate. If we do not have God’s words, we do not have his morals. Others argue that the Bible is culturally bound and not applicable to modern culture. This spans the gap from the egalitarians who seek to usurp biblical gender roles in order to promote female clergy to radical homosexual revisionists indulging in the most incredible eisegesis to assert that the Bible is silent concerning homosexuality. As noted by Francis Schaffer, the slippery slope argument validly applies because the former very often leads to the latter.[1]

Other nominal Christians dismiss the Bible as the deeply flawed product of an ancient patriarchal culture. Radical theologian John Shelby Spong epitomizes the wholesale dismissal of biblical morality by suggesting it promotes slavery and demeans women:

The Bible has been used for centuries by Christians as a weapon of control. To read it literally is to believe in a three-tiered universe, to condone slavery, to treat women as inferior creatures, to believe that sickness is caused by God’s punishment and that mental disease and epilepsy are caused by demonic possession. When someone tells me that they believe the Bible is the ‘literal and inerrant word of God,’ I always ask, ‘Have you ever read it?’[2]

This exemplifies a wholesale compromise with culture. Although he was an Episcopal Bishop it is hard to call him a Christian in any significant way. Truthfully, he is not that far from the atheists.

Atheists deny God’s morality by denying He exists. Still, they attack the Bible to support their position. Often this results in inconsistency. For instance, on one hand they will dismiss the historical narrative of the Bible as a Jewish legend while on the other hand they will use Joshua’s conquest as an example of genocide. In so doing they claim that if he does exist, God is a moral monster. Richard Dawkins has infamously argued:

The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.[3]

In like fashion, Dawkins’ cohort the deceased anti-theist Christopher Hitchens not only dismissed biblical morality but also leveled moral judgment against it in his best seller God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything. The atheist not only rejects God’s moral standards he brands them evil. However, conceding the existence of evil falsifies the second line of attack. If evil exists objectively, then moral relativism has a problem.

The second major way biblical morals are rejected is by denying the existence of objective morality. Known as moral relativism, it rules out the possibility of a transcendent moral law revealed by God. On this view, morality is culturally defined and relative to a particular group. Thus, the majority decides what is morally virtuous and what is not. In effect, it amounts to “the mob rules.” Although it is immensely popular with secular humanists and liberals, history demonstrates that even its staunchest promoters cannot consistently live according to its tenets.

According to moral relativism, it is immoral for one group to judge another by its own standards.  In order to discourage the practice, relativists apply discouraging labels like ethnocentrism. Similarly, the term religiocentrism denotes the conviction that one’s religion is superior to others. Often these are paralleled to racism for emotional effect. They oppose biblical morality as a form of cultural imperialism by asserting that its objective moral truth claims are wrongful impositions. Although this absolute is smuggled in the back door, they ignore the inconsistency. Accordingly, they really do not live by their stated beliefs.

Relativists are only relativists when it suits them. From their stated beliefs, it follows that if the majority decides genocide or racism benefits the group then it should be deemed morally virtuous. Apart from an objective standard, there is no warrant to criticize atrocities like the holocaust. Yet, the Allies appealed to an objective standard and went to war against the Nazis. Furthermore, it turns great moral reformers like Martin Luther King into immoral rabble-rousers. King also appealed to a transcendent moral standard against the prevailing tide of the culture. A consistent relativist would have to reject his claims and support the racist consensus. Most liberals idealize King so this is a very effective defeater.  

Extreme examples have a way of clarifying the issue. One might ask the relativist “Name a circumstance when killing children for fun is morally virtuous?” If they agree there is not one, then they have conceded a moral absolute. This demonstrates that given relativism there are no real moral values, merely opinions, like tastes in ice cream. Given relativism, one cannot consistently say “racism is wrong” or “discriminating against homosexuals is wrong.”  They can only say, “I don’t like it.” Relativism actually destroys morals. Moral relativism is an incoherent concept that all rational people should abandon. In truth, it amounts to moral nihilism.

The culture denies biblical moral standards by attacking the Bible or the notion that moral standards are objective. They might deny God exists, that he has spoken through scripture, or that scripture is reliably preserved. They might also question the existence of objective morality. In so doing, they run the risk of embracing moral anarchy. These points lead to the conclusion that the Apostle Paul was right in connecting the suppression of truth in unrighteousness with increasingly futile thinking and a seared conscience.

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[1] Francis A. Schaeffer, The Great Evangelical Disaster (Westchester, Ill.: Crossway, 1984), 136.

[2] John Shelby Spong, “Q&A on the Bible as a weapon of control,” cited at (accessed October 23, 2013).

 [3] Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion, (Great Britain: Bantam Press, 2006), 31,


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    Total 19 comments
    • JustAComment

      Good and thoughtful article, but there’s a certain futility even trying to argue against moral relativism, except in light of a call to repentance and the simple gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ. People are not going to understand God, are not going to understand scripture, are not going to understand God’s holiness, none of these things and more, absent the Holy Spirit, being born from above. You can’t morally argue somebody into the kingdom of God, as, for instance, conceding a point of some moral absolute will save nobody. It is coming to Jesus Christ in repentance and faith that removes the blinders through receiving the Holy Spirit. Otherwise, a person is serving the world system and Satan, whether they know it or not, is blind and out of reach of any real holiness, immersed in a life of moral relativism you can’t argue away. So, it’s somewhat a waste to argue some things, when only coming to Christ will open eyes to the living moral absolutes of the Lord. Absent Jesus Christ, people will remain intractably blind and lost, spiritually dead, despite anything you may argue.

      Man loves his sin and is actually fleeing from God.

      John 3

      18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
      19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
      20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.
      21 But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”

      Hence given over to Satan and blindness, to believe a lie.

      2 Thessalonians 2

      10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
      11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:
      12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

      Romans 1:28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient.

      John 9:39 And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind.

      Without Christ, one, by default, serves Satan, the concept of holiness and moral absolutes falling on deaf ears.

      Matthew 6:24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

      • Ghost

        I have examined all of the known superstitions of the world and I do not find in our superstitions of Christianity one redeeming feature. They are all founded on fables and mythology. Christianity has made one-half the world fools and the other half hypocrites.
        ~ Thomas Jefferson

        • Cris Putnam

          If you are not a hypocrite, then your standards are too low.

        • Ghost

          Obvious where you rank….

          It’s long past time for Christianity to take a back seat…

          It’s a failed religion rife with hypocrites and pedophiles.. (whited sepulchres full of dead mens’ bones)

          You Ted Haggard worshippers should have to wear Vitter’s dirty diapers

          That’s what the real world sees of Christianity… no rose colored glasses..

        • Cris Putnam

          So you seem to think that something Ted Haggard did was wrong. So I take it you affirm objective moral standards by which you judge Haggard wrong? How can you justify those standards?

        • Ghost

          Those are YOUR words — not mine…

          But I do think Ted Haggard did something wrong…

          He preached homophobia when he is a homosexual

          He preached against drugs when he licked it off his gay bud’s ****

          He preached against adultery when he is an adulterer…

          He is a hypocrite.

          He’s a LIAR..

          Being non-religious doesn’t make one without morals..

          Being non-religious allows common sense to see through the BS

          Why are you trying to side step the issue like most Xtians?

          Xtianity is a failed religion…

          I have seldom met an intelligent person whose views were not narrowed and distorted by religion.
          ~ James Buchanan

        • Ghost

          This tit for tat is fun but time wasting…

          gotta go vote…

        • Cris Putnam

          I agree Haggard was wrong. I agree lying is wrong, but I ground those moral truths in a transcendent moral law are reveled by God. The morals you appeal to have no epistemological basis given a secular worldview. Actually ghost you are the one avoiding the issue. I asked you one simple question and all I got back were red herrings. How do you justify your moral standards?

        • Ghost


          Not Biblical.. however some Biblical precepts are quite nice.. others are horrendous

          Why are you trying to side step the issue like most Xtians?

          Xtianity is a failed religion…

        • Ghost

          Let me clarify..

          It would be wrong for me to live polygamously.

          Yet it might be okay for Mitt Romney..

          The Bible doesn’t forbid it…

          That morality is from the environs that I was subjected to …

        • Cris Putnam

          I’m not side stepping anything at all Christianity is growing like wildfire, there’s simply no truth to your assertion and you haven’t even offered a shred of evidence for it. Anyone can make ridiculous claims without evidence.

          However, I asked you to justify your morality and you really have failed to offer a coherent argument unless you call typing the word “environment” an argument… really?

          What do you mean by environment?

          So if the “environment” as in cultural consensus in 1930s Germany was conducive to Nazi fascism, I suppose on your view it was morally virtuous?

        • Cris Putnam

          Ghost, it seems you cannot justify the moral standards you use to judge Christianity. You say dishonesty is wrong but can not tell me why. If its just “the environment” then as long as you don’t get caught it should be fine… but you seem to think it is really wrong. You seem to think it is absolutely wrong to cheat and deceive but given atheism, why not? As long as you get ahead and no one finds out, it improves your survival value and status. These moral absolutes have no basis given an atheistic worldview. But you seem to know better… But notice you have to borrow from the Christian worldview in order to criticize it, this clearly reveals the inadequacy of your view. Think about it.

        • Ghost

          I can’t say it any better than what Rumplestilskin said below…

          The problem with religious nuts is they think they have a patent and special rights to spirit, gods, morality, life, freethought, freewill..

          All religions only exist to suppress these..

    • Nam Marine

      Anything of “man” is evil and follows the god of this world.(Satan) !

    • Rumplestilskin

      Morality is morality and is something inherent in the human animal when its life and liberty are not being compromised. When you add “Biblical” to the front of morality, you imply that it is the bible which is the institute by which we learn morality. Nothing could be further from the truth.

      Stop with the bible thumping as if it presents us with a way out of our dilemma. More horrors have been committed over the centuries in the name of religion than almost all the wars fought for any other reason.

      Ethics and Morals are what allow a society function with equanimity, and has nothing to do with your bible or your religions. It is the glue that binds individuals together with respect and dignity. Religions have done nothing but promulgate bigotry and strife, because your bible is always being interpreted by ignorant humans wishing to control others !!!

      • Cris Putnam

        “Morality is morality and is something inherent in the human animal when its life and liberty are not being compromised.”

        Not at all supported by evidence. Do you have to teach children to lie? No… it come naturally, but you do have to teach them to tell the truth when its incovenient. Mankind is inherently immoral – that why we need laws, police and jails to protect us.

        “More horrors have been committed over the centuries in the name of religion than almost all the wars fought for any other reason.”

        Common canard. The data leads to the exact opposite convulsion. Militant atheism as practiced by the Soviet Union and China killed more people during peace time than all the casualties of every religious war in world history COMBINED.

        China: 76,702,000
        USSR: 61,911,000

      • Cris Putnam

        “Morality is morality and is something inherent in the human animal when its life and liberty are not being compromised.”

        Not at all supported by evidence. Do you have to teach children to lie? No… it come naturally, but you do have to teach them to tell the truth when its inconvenient. Mankind is inherently immoral – that why we need laws, police and jails to protect us.

        “More horrors have been committed over the centuries in the name of religion than almost all the wars fought for any other reason.”

        Common canard. The data leads to the exact opposite conclusion. Militant atheism as practiced by the Soviet Union and China killed more people during peace time than all the casualties of every religious war in world history COMBINED.

        China: 76,702,000
        USSR: 61,911,000

    • caribbean critic

      I am an atheist! I have no truck with morality! I do however attempt to act ethically and with love towards all things on this planet earth! Morals are a moving changing Target ethics are the eternal truths that never change!

      • Cris Putnam

        “Morals are a moving changing Target”

        Not so much… nearly everyone affirms things like it is wrong to murder innocent people, steal, lie, take advantage of the sick and elderly. My question to the atheist is why? if humans are just the products of a Darwinian process’s determined by matter and the laws of physics then why does it matter as long as you get a survival advantage? Why not steal as long as you don’t get caught? Why not cheat on your wife and spread your DNA as far and wide as you can… after all its all about survival by natural selection. So why help the weak? Note I am not saying that atheists are immoral or that they do not do good things. But I am saying it is hard to justify them given atheism. Why not get away with everything you possibly can?

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