Thursday, February 07, 2008

There is Right and Wrong

And that's all there is.

Sometimes, people are fond of finding gray areas, about which they presume there is neither right nor wrong, but each can be convinced in his own mind.

I believe this is misguided. I do not believe there is neutrality. Something is either right or its wrong.

The fact that "good men differ" does not mean that both are right, or that God is indifferent on the matter. It does not even mean that both sides have some part of the truth. The fact is that when "good men differ" one of them is wrong.

The rub comes in when people treat something "right" as if it is "wrong" because of their own personal conscience. This often causes division in the body, particularly in a local body, which is another issue for another day.

The fact that a person judges something to be wrong, does not mean that it is. He may be judging wrongly, for any number of reasons. Conversely, the fact that someone judges something right does not mean that it is right. He may be judging wrongly, again, for any number of reasons.

But let us dispense with the notion that there is some kind of middle ground out there about which God is indifferent. Something either pleases God or it does not.


Scott Aniol said...

Right on.

Bill Combs said...

I hate to be simplistic, or simple minded here. I am sure I agree with the point you are trying to make, but to my mind it needs to be made more clearly. That is, your language could be misinterpreted. You say:

"Something is either right or its wrong."
and later:
"Something either pleases God or it does not."

Whether one drives a blue Ford or a green Ford is "something." Yet I don't believe, and I am sure you agree, that it is is not a matter of right or wrong and God is not more pleased by either a blue or green Ford.
Of course, there are countless areas like this that are nonmoral.

Keith said...

Like Bill, I think I agree. Objective/universal/absolute ethics exist.

However, it is also true that (1)not every question is an ethical one and (2) even the objective ethical questions often must be answered in light of certain subjective considerations.

Bill has addressed the non-ethical questions: Blue Ford vs. Green Ford -- neither one is universally right or wrong.

Here's what I mean by subjective considerations in objective ethical questions: It is objectively wrong to be lazy (this is not a gray area). However, to determine whether or not a man is being lazy requires a consideration of the man -- the subject. A healthy man working only a part-time job that is indoors and requires no heavy lifting who sleeps 12 hours a day is probably lazy. But a farmer who sleeps 15 hours after three weeks doing the harvest hustle is probably not lazy. In other words, the question of laziness is black and white, the question of how many hours in bed constitutes laziness is gray.

None of this should surprise us. We serve a Trinitarian God. The God of the One and the Many. The God of Form and Freedom. The God who is a person not a scientific equation.

Larry said...

A blue or green Ford are both "right" decisions, aren't they? I would imagine that God approves of either. If someone's conscience does not, then they may choose not to drive one color. But that is not something that God disapproves of. So I think my thesis still stands (even though it was intended to address moral issues ... You cause me to think a little deeper).

As for laziness, the standard by which something is measured right or wrong is not the issue really. The fact is that it's wrong to be lazy. That's not a gray area. But the exact definition of laziness may be a matter of conscience for some. And laziness may be defined differently for a 20 year old than an 80 year old. But it's not as if one person is allowed to be lazy and another is not.

Scott Aniol said...

That's how I read you, Larry. The difficulty, then, of course is determinig what kinds of issues are moral and which are neutral.