How Christian Morals Are Viewed
WHAT makes a Christian really a Christian? Should not his morals play a large part in this, and should not his moral standards be higher than those of non-Christians? If not, then in what way could the Christian believe that his religion is superior to the non-Christian religions? And, finally, if one claims to be a Christian, should not his moral standards be those found in the Bible?
There was a time when Christendom’s churches, by and large, based their morals on the Holy Bible. But how do the churches of Christendom view Christian morals today?
A report from the Dallas Morning News of August 6, 1970, says: “Churches Examine Sexuality. United Presbyterian, Lutherans, Adopt Contemporary View.” What is this contemporary view?
The report goes on to show that according to the Lutheran statement “sexual intercourse outside of marriage is a growing reality of our time” and “to state categorically that it is wrongful is to come at it legalistically rather than contextually.” In much the same vein the Presbyterian statements hold that “there may be exceptional circumstances where extramarital sexual activity may not be contrary to the interest of a faithful concern for the well-being of a marriage partner.”
Committees of experts appointed by the two denominations worked out the statements, which take a like liberal and contemporary view not only regarding fornication and adultery but also in regard to homosexuality, abortion, masturbation and artificial insemination. All these are not wrong in themselves, it is claimed; ‘it all depends upon the circumstances.’ The Lutheran document was formally accepted as the position of that church. The Presbyterian statement was accepted for study by that church.
Then again, in a Methodist church in San Francisco, minister Lloyd Wake performed a marriage uniting two male homosexuals. (Daily Pilot, March 27, 1971) And Anglican theologian Norman Pittenger, of Cambridge University, has come out with a suggested code of ethical conduct for homosexuals.—Caspar Star-Tribune, January 16, 1971.
It is true, of course, that not all religions may openly or officially endorse such views regarding morality, nor do all clergymen. Yet most of them give tacit approval by allowing members who practice such things to remain in good standing within the church. Have you not found this to be so?
The Roman Catholic Church, as is well known, has firmly opposed abortion as well as divorce and birth control. But it is equally well known that many predominantly Catholic lands have a very high rate of illegitimacy. To cite but one example, the official Catholic weekly Orientación (September 24, 1967) gave figures showing that 66.5 percent of all births in El Salvador were illegitimate. Prostitution is also high in many Catholic lands, the Italian weekly Lo Specchio reporting that 100,000 prostitutes were active in Rome itself in recent years. Despite the high rate of concubinage, adultery and fornication in many such lands, excommunication for these practices is rare. So they continue to flourish.
Have you ever inquired of the pastor of your church what his view is on Christian morals? His answer might surprise you.
How do the views and position of Jehovah’s witnesses compare with those given above? Do they follow the modern trend?
Their position briefly is this: They believe the Bible account that, in creating man, God gave humans their male and female characteristics. (Gen. 1:27) Because of this, and because the sex powers relate to the procreation of life (which the Bible presents as sacred), they acknowledge that God alone has the authority and right to say what is proper and good and what is improper and bad as to the use of our sexual powers. Also because of this sacredness of life, they consider the deliberate destruction of a living fetus by abortion to be murder.—Gen. 9:6; Ex. 21:22, 23.
Commenting on the beliefs of Jehovah’s witnesses, the New Catholic Encyclopedia (1967) Vol. 7, p. 846, says: “Except for birth control, which they leave to the couple’s own decision, their conjugal and sexual morality is quite rigid. . . . They regard the Bible as their source of belief and rule of conduct.”
What does the Bible itself say about sexual morality? Does it make allowance for “exceptional circumstances” as justification for adultery, fornication or homosexuality? Hebrews 13:4 states: “Let marriage be honorable among all, and the marriage bed be without defilement, for God will judge fornicators and adulterers.” And at 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10 we read: “What! Do you not know that unrighteous persons will not inherit God’s kingdom? Do not be misled. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men kept for unnatural purposes, nor men who lie with men, nor thieves, nor greedy persons, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit God’s kingdom.” Is this not clear and unmistakable in its meaning?
Jehovah’s witnesses also believe that to retain God’s favor they must remain clean as a congregation. They recognize that, just as a little leaven will ferment a whole batch of flour or a bad apple will cause a whole basket of apples to rot, in the same way an immoral person allowed to remain in a congregation will have a polluting effect on others therein. So, any who practice immoral acts make themselves liable to “disfellowshiping,” that is, expulsion from all congregations of Jehovah’s witnesses. While it is true that such persons may be accepted back after a period of time, this is only when sincere repentance and elimination of the wrong practice are evident.
What does the Bible say on this? The apostle Paul commanded concerning a man in the Christian congregation at Corinth who was living immorally: “Remove the wicked man from among yourselves.” And in that connection he stated: “Now I am writing you to quit mixing in company with anyone called a brother that is a fornicator or a greedy person or an idolater or a reviler or a drunkard or an extortioner, not even eating with such a man.” (1 Cor. 5:11-13) Is this instruction followed in the church you attend?
The rule in God’s Word is that ‘what a person sows he will reap.’ (Gal. 6:7, 8) What does the modern trend regarding sex lead to? Is it not true that divorce and broken homes are increasing and that such broken families are fertile soil for juvenile delinquency? Is it not true that health authorities now warn that venereal diseases are getting out of hand, reaching epidemic proportions? And is it not true that illegitimacy is skyrocketing, with ever younger unwed girls becoming mothers or undergoing abortions to avoid this? Do you think that these fruits are the product of sowing what is good?
God’s laws are not only authoritative but also wise and for man’s good. “Godly devotion is beneficial for all things, as it holds promise of the life now and that which is to come.” (1 Tim. 4:8) Yes, living by Bible principles leads to happy, united homes and to the reward of endless life in God’s favor. Is this what you want? If so, then you doubtless appreciate the importance of Christian morals. In a world experiencing moral decay, should you not avoid those who show themselves Christians in name only and seek rather to associate with those who are morally clean? You will find such association refreshing and stimulating to clean and wholesome conduct.