Why is it that there are so many books on the subject of crime in most bookstores? And why is there no shortage of series, films, documentaries, and even theatrical performances centred around crime, policing, detectives and solving murders? Crime is not good, and evil is the deprivation of that which is good, so why should it absorb our interest? Undoubtedly there is interest and intrigue concerning the plot, motive and means, yet ultimately, we all have an innate sense of justice. These novels, programmes, and performances appeal to that. We find ourselves drawn in and desiring an outcome that we believe to be intuitively right.
Why do we want to do what we consider to be right? Ultimately because God exists, and He has given us a conscience meaning ‘with knowledge’. Morality is objective (not based on personal or societal preference) and self-evident – we all have a sense of right and wrong. To go down the path of moral relativism (everyone’s opinion is equally valid and there are no absolutes) would result in chaos and absurdity. If morality was entirely subjective then worldwide policing and security measures should be deemed unnecessary and inappropriate – everything would be considered acceptable. Whilst there are cases of complex moral dilemmas and cultural differences that at times can appear to cloud the issue, without an objective moral framework established in a code of law we would have lawlessness.
Where does morality originate from and why is God the best explanation for objective morality? Without God, how could we even begin to define morality? Romans 2 explains that God has placed moral truth within us. God has given us a conscience, the Ten Commandments, and the Bible. Whilst some may say that some of the Ten Commandments are purely common sense alone, that further demonstrates how we recognise intuitively that there is an ultimate objective standard of morality that transcends preference or opinion. That objective standard is God and His word.
God’s commandments provide us with moral obligations. However, since God is the source of all morality, even if people are not aware of His commandments and break them, they are still sinning. Ignorance of the law is no defence for law-breaking. This also means that it matters what we do when no one else is watching because God is omniscient, He is the perfect Judge of the universe, and He does what is right.
There are some today who argue that moral objectivity exists apart from God. Moral objectivity is self-evident and something we are intuitively aware of. However that is not a randomly occurring phenomenon that evolved by chance but something God has hardwired into our beings. Morality involves choice not happenstance. Imagine if tomorrow law courts decided to throw dice to determine a verdict. Only those proven to be guilty beyond a shadow of a doubt would opt for that option! Moreover societies morals worldwide take on a cyclical nature, demonstrating that our greatest problem is ourselves and the sinfulness of the human heart.
Unlike us, God is perfect, sinless, just and upright. Within the Godhead there is perfect fellowship and that which is truly good. If we are honest, even though we may even strive to live good lives we recognise that we do things we should not do in thought, word and deed. God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all. When we do something good our actions in a small way resemble something of the character of the infinitely perfect God who made us in His image. Having said that until we repent and trust in the Lord our righteousness is as filthy rags and we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Our aim then should be to become more like Him in our character and to conform to His likeness and not to conform to the values of this world.