What is morality?
Oxford provides the following:
“noun (plural moralities) [mass noun] principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behaviour: the matter boiled down to simple morality: innocent prisoners ought to be freed. [count noun] a particular system of values and principles of conduct:a bourgeois morality; the extent to which an action is right or wrong: the issue of the morality of the possession of nuclear weapons”
What is Christian morality? Where does it come from and, more importantly, can it and should it be legislated and enforced?
The Bible states clearly that God’s law is written on the hearts of people. One might take this as a statement regarding the source of human general morality…thou shalt not kill, etc. In response we have, as a group, by and large created legislation to enforce laws binding us to a large (but increasingly shrinking) set of general moralities such as those against murder etc.
Is a Christian morality different than a general morality? I think it is.
It became clear during Christ’s lifetime that he was doing something different with the law as it was understood. When he challenged the age-old assumption that murder is murder by pointing out that even those who hate have committed murder he was announcing something new was arriving. When he challenged age-old assumptions that arose from general morality, the law of God written on our hearts, that killing another as punishment for killing needed to be replaced with the counter-intuitive “love thy enemy” he was pointing to something different…or perhaps he was simply pointing to the rest of the law hidden beneath the surface of time like the bulk of an iceberg.
Something new was ushered in by Christ, a new morality, a complete, kingdom-oriented morality that did not abolish the old but stripped away poor human interpretation of it, built upon it, to offer a bright example of a loving morality…a kingdom morality.
But there was a catch…this morality does not rise up naturally in people because of our own condition, this morality required a helper…the promised spirit of God (and even with the spirit Christians struggle and are at war with themselves as we await the end of all things and the destruction of our broken natures for something better).
This new kingdom morality is a compelling hint, a gift that arises from within out of a natural inclination of the kingdom to burst forth and spread through the world. This morality is summed up in one word – LOVE.
As a result of its very nature you CANNOT legislate a Christian morality. You CANNOT enforce a Christian morality. To legislate it is to deny its efficacious nature and its purpose which is to transform the world inside and out…law does not transform, law contains…law is a cage. To legislate Christian morality is to deny its source rather than honour it. It is to stubbornly crown a human as king when you have already been told that God is king even though you cannot see it yet.
To legislate Christian morality is to corrupt it into law, turn it into a cage and rebuild the dividing wall of hostility which Christ died to tear down. It is wrong.
This post is a work in progress…it will grow and evolve. Stay tuned.