The terrible event of war between Ukraine and Russia is a very important concern, as virtually everyone who is conscious realizes. Many would say that it is the most important event happening in the world at this time.
A few others would disagree with this assessment. At least for America, many would say the event that matters the most is the unprecedented invasion of illegal aliens by the millions occurring on our own southern border.
Others might state that more important than either of these is the COVID-19 virus, whether that might be the fear of the virus itself or the fact that such fears are wildly overblown for nefarious purposes. For many on the Left, more important than all of these is the supposed “existential” threat of man-made ‘climate change.’
Add to this list the breakdown of the family, the “trans-rights” agenda, rampant inflation, foreseeable economic collapse, the lack of election integrity, an almost exponential increase in crime in our cities, the infection of racialized political agendas that manifest in such things as teaching racism under the guise of ‘Critical Race Theory,’ and there seems to be no limit to what one could rank as the thing that matters most in our nation and indeed the entire world.
I agree that many of these are crucial items that should be addressed and have been in many of my previous writings in this journal. However, though I don’t wish to diminish the importance of any one of them or all of them together, I believe most of humanity is ‘missing the forest for the trees’ because we are blind to the one thing that matters most of all in every human life on the planet, the moral mandate we have from the LORD.
Yes, there is a moral mandate from the LORD to all
There are some who would question the assertion that the moral mandate from God is the most important thing we should consider today because they question whether such a moral mandate even exists. To answer this query, allow me to appeal to the Scriptures and my favorite Christian author, C.S. Lewis, and briefly to the American Declaration of Independence.
I begin with Lewis. Not because of importance but because of his argument for the existence of objective morality leads naturally to the importance of the Scriptures.
In his classic apologetic, Mere Christianity, Lewis presents a most persuasive case for the existence of God based on the existence of objective morality. He does this not with academic or arcane language, but with common sense simple statements that logically lead to the conclusion that objective morality must exist.
He begins with the concept of people quarreling and that there is really no sense of people arguing unless they understood the right and wrong of the argument. Unless the people involved in the quarrel had no concept of a standard of right and wrong, it really made no sense for any argument to take place.
As Lewis writes,
Now what interests me about these remarks [Lewis mentions a few remarks one might hear when people are quarreling a few lines earlier] is that the man who makes them is not merely saying that the other man’s behavior does not happen to please him. He is appealing to some kind of standard of behavior which he expects the other man to know about. And the other man very seldom replies, “To hell with your standard.” Nearly always he tries to make out that what he has been doing does not really go against the standard, or that if it does there is some sort of special excuse.
This is an example of a moral standard, or mandate, on an individual scale that Lewis uses to argue that it is also a human trait that is universal. Though each society may differ on the degree and details, there are some very basic concepts that nearly everyone agrees are good or bad, righteous or evil, moral or immoral.
Things such as murder, assault, and theft are agreed upon as immoral as behavior against the moral mandate, whether or not some obey the mandate or plead some “special excuse” as to why they should be exempt.
This standard was called the Laws of Nature in the days of America’s founding, and was referred to in the opening lines of the Declaration of Independence,
When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God entitle them…
“Now this Law or Rule about Right or Wrong used to be called the Law of Nature. …when the older thinkers called the Law of Right or Wrong “the Law of Nature,” they really meant the Law of Human Nature. The idea was that, just as all bodies are governed by the law of gravitation, and organisms by biological laws, so the creature called man also had his law- with this great difference, that a body could not choose whether it obeyed the law of gravitation or not, but a man could choose to either to obey the Law of Human Nature or to disobey it. …This law was called the Law of Human Nature because people thought that everyone knew it by nature and did not need to be taught it.”
The concept that everyone knows naturally about right and wrong is also reflected in the most famous part of the Declaration and comes in the second paragraph,
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.
Lewis goes on to show that this moral standard, or mandate, could not have come from within ourselves, if for no other reason than it wouldn’t be almost universally agreed upon as the standard. It had to come from outside of humanity from a higher Being, i.e., from God.
It is but a short space from that conclusion to the further conclusion that God’s Word is real, as it declares the content on the page of the moral standard, as well as chronicling the history of men’s choices to obey or disobey the Law of Human Nature. Disobedience would be what we commonly know as sin.
This leads Lewis to consider Jesus Christ, as He is presented as the solution to sin, that is, Our Savior. As to what we think about who Jesus was and is, Lewis pens perhaps the most famous of his quotes concerning religion, and specifically, Christianity.
I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him [that is, Christ]: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic–on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg–or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse…. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come up with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.
These examples from Lewis and the Declaration of Independence form some of the soundest human thought on the matter of morality. But what does the Word of God have to say about it?
There are two great expositions of God’s moral mandate in the Bible. The first is found in the Old Testament and is known as the Ten Commandments. The second is given in the New Testament and is called the Sermon on the Mount.
The Ten Commandments were given from God to Moses and written on tablets of stone. Moses then delivers these to the people of Israel.
The Sermon on the Mount was given from God in the flesh, Jesus Christ, to a multitude of people gathered to hear Him. These were recorded in the Gospels that have been preserved in our Bible today.
For the sake of brevity, I won’t be providing a detailed comparison of the Ten Commandments to the Sermon on the Mount, but I will make the following observations. The Ten Commandments are a legal list of what a person is forbidden to do by God written in stone and recorded in Scripture.
The Sermon on the Mount is an expansion and explanation of these commands by Jesus that is in many ways more severe than the Ten Commandments. Moreover, Jesus teaches that this Moral Law is not simply written on stone, it should be written on the heart of man.
This moral mandate matters most of all
There are many reasons why this moral mandate from God is what matters most of all. One of these reasons is proved by the wisdom of history and has been articulated by great thinkers all across the spectrum throughout history.
One of the best quotes concerning this problem came from the Renaissance philosopher Voltaire, who wrote,
“Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.”
In this quote, the moral mandate that applies is found in the commandment from God that forbids bearing false witness against others. Voltaire is stating that if someone, especially someone with some sort of power over you, can convince you that an absurd lie is really the truth, they can also convince you to commit moral atrocities against others.
There are a multitude of historical examples that prove this assertion. For example, the idea that a person is inferior to you based on the color of their skin or the family of their birth can be and has been used to convince whole populations to enslave and abuse other whole populations.
To update this, if a multitude of people in authority use the absurd lie that COVID-19 is so ferocious that even those with a 99.997% survivability rate are at severe risk, and they can convince others to accept that lie; they can justify building concentration camps for those who do not accept this fallacy and imprison those same people against their will.
When one abandons the moral mandate from God, humanity becomes a community where evil abounds. In every case of human events where terrible things happen, it can be traced to a decision to abandon what we understand and have been taught is moral in favor of a kind of man-made “moral code” that allows immoral behavior to be mandated and approved by human authorities.
The human mangling of God’s Moral Mandate and the devastation that inevitably follows is found in many examples throughout both the Old and New Testaments. One place, where a plethora of examples is found, is in the book of Judges.
Within Judges can be found, idolatry and slavery in abundance, along with war, rape, murder, genocide all attributed to the fact that the people abandoned God’s Moral Mandate in favor of what they selfishly embraced as a false human-generated morality. All of that can be traced back to believing the greatest and most absurd of lies told to our progenitors by Satan that we could “be like God…” [Genesis 3:5].
Once that lie, which is repeated to every generation in one way or another, is believed, the standard of morality is reduced to whatever one thinks they should make it. People become reduced to doing whatever they believe is right for them regardless of how wrong it might be for anyone else.
In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes. Judges 17:6 [NASB]
The pattern in Judges is instructive for us today. In the early years of the nation, Israel was prospering under God’s protection and all would be well until the generation who had uplifted the Moral Law passed on, and the newer generation decided that this Mandate from God was outdated.
The newer generation would then embrace idols and begin to descend into moral anarchy which led to God lifting His protective hand and allowing the surrounding pagan nations to oppress and enslave the Israelites. They would then cry out to the God they had previously disdained and repent and He would send a Judge to deliver His people from their oppression.
Once that was done, the people of that generation flourished once again for at least the generation that remembered to heed God’s Moral Mandate. The next generation would soon forget this and the cycle would repeat itself.
The Constitution of the United States was enacted upon the ‘self-evident truths’ of the Law of Human Nature and our founders understood that only a people who recognized this Law within themselves could exercise the liberty codified in it responsibly. Written Law is necessary so that those in humanity who disregard the Moral Mandate will not be able to violate the liberties of the law-abiding with impunity.
As John Adams said about it,
Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.