Is Bible Morality the Best?
“SOCIETY needs a framework of basic values that gives its members security and guidance.” So commented an experienced German writer and television broadcaster. Surely that makes sense. In order for human society to be stable and prosperous, the people must have a bedrock of commonly accepted standards that identify what is right or wrong, good or bad. The question is: What standards are the best, both for society and for its members?
If the moral values in the Bible are the standards adopted, they should help individuals to lead stable, happy lives. That, by extension, would make a society of people who observe those values happier and more stable. Is that the case? Let us examine what the Bible has to say on two important issues: faithfulness in marriage and honesty in everyday life.
Stick to Your Mate
Our Creator created Adam and then made Eve to be his partner. Their union was the first marriage in history and was to be an enduring relationship. God said: “A man will leave his father and his mother and he must stick to his wife.” Some 4,000 years later, Jesus Christ repeated this marital standard for all of his followers. Further, he condemned sexual relations outside of marriage.—Genesis 1:27, 28; 2:24; Matthew 5:27-30; 19:5.
According to the Bible, two important keys to a happy marriage are love and respect on the part of both partners. The husband, who is the head of the household, ought to show unselfish love by seeking his wife’s best interests. He is to live with her “according to knowledge” and should not get “bitterly angry” with her. The wife is to treat her husband with “deep respect.” If marriage mates follow these principles, most marital difficulties can be avoided or overcome. The husband will want to stick to his wife and the wife to her husband.—1 Peter 3:1-7; Colossians 3:18, 19; Ephesians 5:22-33.
Does the Bible standard of sticking faithfully to one’s mate contribute to a happy marriage? Well, consider the results of a survey carried out in Germany. People were asked what factors are important for a good marriage. At the top of the list was mutual faithfulness. Would you not agree that married people are far happier when they know that their mates are faithful?
What if Problems Arise?
What, though, if a husband and wife have serious disagreements? What if their love fades? Is it not best under such circumstances to end the marriage? Or does the Bible standard of sticking faithfully to one’s mate still make good sense?
Bible writers recognized that all married couples will have problems as a result of human imperfection. (1 Corinthians 7:28) Still, couples who observe the Bible’s moral standards try to forgive and to work out their difficulties together. Of course, there are circumstances—such as adultery or physical abuse—when a Christian may appropriately consider separation or divorce. (Matthew 5:32; 19:9) But hastily ending a marriage without a very serious reason or in order to take another mate reveals a selfish disregard for others. It certainly does not bring stability or happiness to one’s life. Let us take an example.
Peter sensed that his marriage had lost the sparkle it once had.* Hence, he left his wife and moved in with Monika, who had abandoned her husband. How did things work out? Within a few months, Peter admitted that living with Monika was “not quite so easy as I imagined it would be.” Why not? Human failings were just as evident in his new partnership as they had been in the old one. To make matters worse, his hasty and selfish decision got him into serious financial problems. Furthermore, Monika’s children were emotionally crushed by the radical change in their family life.
As this experience illustrates, when a marriage encounters rough weather, abandoning ship is rarely the answer. On the other hand, in the face of a storm, living by the moral values of God’s Word, the Bible, can often keep a marriage afloat and bring it into calmer waters. This was the case with Thomas and Doris.
Thomas and Doris had been married for over 30 years when Thomas started to drink heavily. Doris plunged into depression, and the two of them discussed divorce. Doris confided in one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. The Witness showed Doris what the Bible says about marriage, encouraging her not to rush into separation but first to work with her husband to try to find a solution. That is what Doris did. Within a few months, divorce was no longer being considered. Thomas and Doris were working on their problems together. Following the Bible’s counsel strengthened their marriage and gave them time to sort things out.
Honesty in All Things
Sticking faithfully to a marriage mate demands strength of character and love of principle. The same qualities are required to remain honest in a dishonest world. The Bible has much to say about honesty. The apostle Paul wrote to first-century Christians in Judea: “We wish to conduct ourselves honestly in all things.” (Hebrews 13:18) What does that mean?
An honest person is truthful and free of fraud. He is fair in his dealings with others—straightforward, honorable, not deceptive or misleading. Moreover, an honest person is someone with integrity who does not cheat his fellowman. Honest people contribute to a climate of trust and confidence, which leads to healthy attitudes and promotes strong human relationships.
Are honest people happy? Well, they have reason to be. Despite widespread corruption and cheating—or maybe because of it—honest individuals are generally admired by others. According to a survey carried out among young people, honesty is a virtue that was highly rated by 70 percent of respondents. Furthermore, whatever our age, honesty is a prime requisite in those we regard as friends.
Christine was taught to steal from the time she was 12 years of age. Over the years she became a proficient pickpocket. “There were days when I brought home up to DM 5,000 [$2,200, U.S.] in cash,” she explains. But Christine was arrested several times, and she lived with the constant risk of being sent to prison. When Jehovah’s Witnesses explained to her what the Bible says about honesty, Christine was attracted to the Bible’s moral standards. She learned to obey the admonition: “Let the stealer steal no more.”—Ephesians 4:28.
By the time Christine got baptized as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, she was no longer a thief. She was endeavoring to be honest in all things, since the Witnesses place great emphasis on honesty and other Christian qualities. The newspaper Lausitzer Rundschau reports: “Such moral terms as honesty, moderation, and love of neighbor are rated very highly in the faith of the Witnesses.” How does Christine feel about the change in her life? “I am much happier now that I have stopped stealing. I feel that I am an honorable member of society.”
All Society Benefits
People who are faithful to their mates and who are honest not only are happier themselves but are good for society in general. Employers prefer workers who do not cheat. We all like to have trustworthy neighbors, and we like to shop in stores run by upright businessmen. Do we not respect politicians, policemen, and judges who shun corruption? The community benefits greatly when its members behave honestly as a matter of principle, not just when it is expedient for them to do so.
Furthermore, faithful marriage mates are the basis of stable families. And most people would agree with the European politician who declared: “The [traditional] family remains to this day the most important haven of human security and purpose.” The peaceful family unit is where adults and children have the best opportunity to feel emotionally secure. Those who are faithful in marriage are thus helping to build a stable society.
Think of how much everyone would benefit if there were no abandoned mates, divorce courts, or child-custody cases. And what if there were no more pickpockets, shoplifters, embezzlers, corrupt officials, or fraudulent scientists? Does that sound like a mere dream? Not to those who take a keen interest in the Bible and what it says about our future. God’s Word promises that Jehovah’s Messianic Kingdom will soon take over the governing of all human society on earth. Under that Kingdom all its subjects will be taught to live in accordance with Bible morals. At that time, “the righteous themselves will possess the earth, and they will reside forever upon it.”—Psalm 37:29.
Bible Morality Is the Best Morality
Millions of people who have taken a close look at the Holy Scriptures have come to appreciate that Bible counsel is based on godly wisdom, which is far superior to human thinking. Such ones regard the Bible as trustworthy and relevant to life in our modern world. They know that it is in their best interests to heed the counsel in God’s Word.
Hence, such individuals take to heart the Bible’s counsel: “Trust in Jehovah with all your heart and do not lean upon your own understanding. In all your ways take notice of him, and he himself will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5, 6) Doing so, they greatly improve their own lives, and they also benefit those around them. And they develop a firm confidence in “the life . . . which is to come,” when Bible morality will be followed by all mankind.—1 Timothy 4:8.
The names in this article have been changed.
[Blurb on page 5]
In the face of a marital storm, living by Bible standards can often keep a marriage afloat and bring it into calmer waters
[Blurb on page 6]
Despite widespread corruption—or maybe because of it—honest people are generally admired by others