Guest / Limited Access /
When I became a Christian, I learned a happy truth that I previously had not quite believed: Morality is a matter of fact, not opinion. Correct moral rules are established by God, not by man. They are not human constructs, but facts that God has revealed about himself and his order for the world.

Christians often disagree with each other over the right answer to tough moral questions, but the dispute is in a sense empirical: either God commands A or God commands B. The disputants might both be wrong, but they cannot both be right.

A couple of years ago, I made this point in a talk I delivered to an audience of Episcopalians, fellow members of my own denomination (at least for the moment). During the question-and-answer session, a woman asked me whether I think God has only one will with respect to abortion. I repeated my point: God has only one will with respect to every moral question. She went away unsatisfied, never even asking me what I thought God's single will on abortion is.

Her unhappiness was not surprising, because America is more and more a nation that hates rules. The dominant American culture looks at life as a seamless web of choices, and the only form of wrongdoing the culture is willing to acknowledge is the wrong of interfering with somebody else's freedom to choose. When it comes to matters of sex and reproduction, the cultural message is aggressive almost to the point of tyranny.

To the devout Christian, such a theory of life offers a gruel so thin it would likely lead to spiritual starvation. The Bible commands us to be holy as well as righteous. God places restrictions on our freedom that are quite independent of the effect of our acts on others.

This distinction between ways of looking at the moral world ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

From Issue:
Read These NextSee Our Latest
Recommended
Subscriber Access Only The ACLU Is Not Evil
And neither are many people with whom we disagree.
TrendingChristianity Today's 2015 Book Awards
Christianity Today's 2015 Book Awards
Our picks for the books most likely to shape evangelical life, thought, and culture.
Editor's PickWhat Forgotten Christmas Tradition Should Churches Revive?
What Forgotten Christmas Tradition Should Churches Revive?
Rooting our celebration of Christ’s birth more deeply in our lives.
Comments
Christianity Today
Why Rules Rule
hide thisSeptember 3 September 3

In the Magazine

September 3, 2001

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.