One of the major sources of strife and disarray in this world is moral disagreement. Though anger emerges for many reasons, virtually always caused by or in response to sin, one of these ways is when people disagree as to the identification of moral and immoral actions. Even when actions viewed by a man to be immoral are not performed by anyone else, it is common and normal for him to be angry when others merely profess the morality of those actions. As an overt and shocking example, imagine how you would respond if some man told you that he saw nothing wrong with the rape of children. Even if he also claimed that he would never do it, any conscience not entirely burnt out would still express moral outrage at his beliefs.
The ancient Greek philosopher Plato echoes these thoughts in his dialogue Euthyphro. In it, the character Socrates states,
What subject of difference would make us angry and hostile to each other if we were unable to come to a decision? Perhaps you [i.e., Euthyphro] do not have an answer ready, but examine as I tell you whether these subjects are the just and the unjust, the beautiful and the ugly, the good and the bad. Are these not the subjects of difference about which, when we are unable to come to a satisfactory decision, you and I and other men become hostile to each other whenever we do?1
God constituted us, as creatures in His image, to have a powerful moral disposition. When we apprehend immorality, we are designed to generate moral indignation. Though we are to be forbearing with others’ frailties, we are yet required to defend the law of God and hate all unrighteousness. Therefore, when others espouse a different morality—when they declare a contrary set of duties and sins—it is proper and natural (and obligatory!) for us to oppose them, instituting God’s law as supreme. And since any rationalization of sin necessarily involves the supplanting of divine law with some instantiation of man-made law, we should understand that opposing false law-systems is not uncommon. Sinners in rebellion to God love to concoct their own lists of false sins.
The Nature of Morality
As Scripture makes clear, morality is well understood in terms of law. Just consider the definition of sin as lawlessness (1 John 3:4), and the primacy of the Ten Commandments. We are required to do certain actions and to refrain from other actions. Even more fundamentally, however, it would be accurate to make a threefold distinction in understanding how morality applies to actions. Given any particular action whatsoever, we can say that it has one of three classifications: obligatory, prohibited, or permissible. Since the three categories are mutually exclusive2 and jointly exhaustive, you can select any action that a moral agent might be faced with, and it can be categorizable according to one of these three categories, necessarily. For instance, consider the actions of taking a walk at night, or selecting pepperoni rather than cheese pizza, or going to church on Sunday mornings.
Now, there are a couple of qualifications I should add to help clarify this. First, although every action will necessarily be placed in one of the three categories, we may not know which category. That is just to say that certain things are morally fuzzy, or that sometimes we will be faced with moral dilemmas. This is not problematic, so long as we understand the necessity of the categories in themselves.
Second, there are levels of generality in which these actions can be understood. This should be easier to grasp when we understand that sometimes we might respond to the question, “Is X obligatory, prohibited, or permissible?” with the answer, “X is sometimes obligatory, sometimes prohibited, and sometimes permissible.” Consider my previous example of attending church on Sunday mornings. We might say that we are ordinarily obligated to attend corporate worship on the Lord’s Day, but there can always be extenuating circumstances which make it permissible not to attend. What is crucial, again, is understanding that, when dealing with any particular action, where we can analyze the relevant, morality-determining circumstances sitting before a particular moral agent, an action will always fall in one, and only one, of the three moral categories. If I were to ask you whether it was obligatory for you to attend your particular church service on August 21, 2011, then the answer could not be, “it is sometimes one or the other.” And therefore it is still the case that the three moral categories necessarily apply to any particular action.
The Inescapability of Moral Law
Moral philosophizing aside, the significance of this tripartite moral categorization is how it points to the inescapability of moral law. Everyone must necessarily have a view of the moral law. Everyone must classify various actions according to one of the three categories, and therefore everyone must have some systematic understanding of morality. Even if someone were to claim not to know the moral status of various actions, he would still be forced to treat them, in practice, as obligatory, prohibited, or permissible. For example, after seeing the historic view on the subject, a man might say: “I do not know if miscegenation is moral or not, so in the meantime I’ll not take any risks, but just marry within my race.” In instances where we may not know the moral status of an action, but are still forced to treat it as belonging to one of the three categories, our modus operandi ought to be that whatever is not done in faith is sin (Rom. 14:23). God’s law governs with clarity even those instances where our moral choices are initially unclear.
Given that everyone has a certain set of beliefs concerning what is obligatory, prohibited, and permissible, it follows that some people are incorrect, and that there is but one true view. Specifically, God’s law is the full set of all correct categorizations of moral obligation, prohibition, and permissibility; and man’s law will deviate from this set in some fashion. Everyone has a certain view of moral law, inescapably, and everyone must try to adhere to the true law as much as possible. It is not a matter of neutrality, but a religious question which everyone is forced to answer—either God’s law, or some perversion thereof. To oppose God’s law is to oppose Him as King and Lawgiver (Isaiah 33:22), and therefore to be His enemy, garnering His and His people’s hatred and wrath (Ps. 5:5; 139:21-22).
A crucial doctrine emanating from the inescapability of this religious question is how antinomianism and legalism—two false views concerning the content of God’s law3—are intertwined. Being a moral creature, designed to obey God’s law in all its particulars, man will usually be uncomfortable and dissatisfied when he merely omits moral obligations. Instead, he will want to replace the divinely imprinted obligations he dislikes with his own set. If man dislikes God’s law, he tends not only to remove parts of God’s law, but to replace it with his own law, displaying a dialectical relationship between antinomianism and legalism. If rejecting total nihilism, man must have law; but sinners hate God’s law. Man will therefore create false duties and false sins, the most prominent of which today belong to the dogmas of cultural Marxism and political correctness.
The Bankruptcy of Marxist Morality
There is a slew of new vocabulary that has arisen in discussions concerning Western ethics. Whereas terms like “fornication,” “miscegenation,” “bastard,” and “infidel” have all but disappeared, a new list of sins has appeared, the most prevalent of which are racism, sexism, homophobia, anti-Semitism, xenophobia, and Islamophobia. Much ink could be and has been spilled in showing the vacuousness of these terms, which are often utilized in ways that reduce to self-contradiction, irrationality, and name-calling. For instance, Craig Bodeker in his “A Conversation About Race” shows how “racism,” when defined as belief in racial superiority, is not consistently espoused, but is merely used as a hammer to manipulate and guilt-trip whites. Further, any promotion of biblical and hierarchical gender roles is deemed as “sexist,” since hierarchy implies inequality; and any moral condemnation of sodomy is deemed “homophobic.” The idea that American men should not be sacrificed to fight wars for Israel is “anti-Semitic.” The examples could be multiplied.
The vitality of these false sins is grounded in obfuscation and propaganda. The media and government schools muddy the issue by never providing a definition of these terms which is analyzed or consistently professed, including in the scope of these terms both real and false sins. For example, after impressing upon spectators the idea that racism involves mindless hatred of and violence toward other races—always non-white—the propagandist will then include a number of sinless actions in the scope of the term. To prefer one’s children to marry white is then seen as racist, as is citing statistics which do not remove the warts of other races. Before you know it, any white making any racial claim whatsoever (besides groveling) receives the reactionary accusation of “Racist!”
This bears repeating: true sins can be properly encapsulated by every one of the false Marxist sins listed. A murder of a Muslim, just because he is Muslim, could accurately be called “Islamophobia.” Yet it does not follow that these terms ought to be used, for they are associated with outlawing what God does not outlaw and requiring what He does not require. They are constructs produced expressly for the propagation of a false law-system, and therefore Christians should repudiate them.
What is so dangerous about these labels is that they impress in people’s minds a new set of duties and sins, a new categorization of obligatory, prohibited, and permissible actions. Even though various Marxist-infiltrated institutions might profess a decent-sounding principle that might not, in itself, require deviation from the tripartite moral categorization of God’s law—e.g., that we ought to treat all races with respect—they in practice promote a set of obligations, prohibitions, and permissibilities that completely assaults true law. Masquerading as angels of light, these men of darkness subvert godly order and morality.
Given the great degree and intensity of false guilt which results from the proliferation of false sins, we can see how fighting for the supremacy of Christ’s law is fighting for liberty. False guilt enslaves populations, but a free population is one based on true morality, Christian morality, understanding the guilt that was appropriated by Christ. When we truly believe and apply Christian doctrine and law to our lives and society, liberty will necessarily increase.
Only Christianity can lay claim to a true expression of divine law. Our modern religious milieu of cultural Marxism has a different system of moral law which necessarily wages war on competing systems, and Christians need to be in battle for the true King of kings, upholding God’s law and tearing down this idol and false morality.
- Plato, Five Dialogues, trans. G.M.A. Grube, p. 9 ↩
- Someone might object that obligatory actions are also permissible—if I am obligated to love my neighbor, then certainly I am also permitted to love him—and therefore that the two are not mutually exclusive. However, when I use the term “permissible,” I refer to those actions which are merely permissible. They are permissible but non-obligatory by definition. ↩
- There are other ways that “antinomianism” and “legalism” are employed besides with reference to the content of God’s law. For example, one form of legalism is viewing law-keeping as salvific: this is a false view of the purpose of the law, not its content. But, as a matter of fact, I am employing the terms to refer to those errors respecting the content of God’s law, not some other feature. ↩