Right and Wrong

Why Right and Wrong?

'The radical change that took place in my heart was not from a rational decision but in response to an overwhelming Love that became rational'

Tertius Venter

Love is a beautiful thing

a painful thing...

He knows it better than any human being

Dr William Lane Graig


Right and Wrong

-The Moral Argument-


See also; Arguments for the Existence of God


If there is no objective morality outside the human brain then all moral arguments are about preference, relative.

The Moral Argument for God’s Existence;

Everyone, including atheists, appeal to a moral standard. A moral standard requires a transcendent law giver. That Lawgiver  can only be God. Here is why.

Atheists can be moral but how do you justify morality, to what standard do you measure right and wrong? Your feelings, your opinion, the society's opinion?


What is the standard for right and wrong or is it reduced to human opinion? Then whose opinion; Mother Theresa's of Hitler's opinion? Frank Turek

We all have a sense of right and wrong. Right and wrong is written on our hearts.  Where does it come from?

'They demonstrate that God’s law is written in their hearts, for their own conscience and thoughts either accuse them or tell them they are doing right.' Romans 2:15

Objective morality means that moral statements like “murder is bad” is independent of the person saying it. Objective morality means that there is a standard of morality that transcends human opinions and judgements.  Like mathematics. What your opinion is on 4+6=10 is irrelevant to the fact, it is also irrelevant of human thoughts about it is. It exits outside of the human brain. It would still be true even if there were no humans.

Morals are not invented, they are discovered. Like mathematics.

Each one of us makes moral judgements and decisions every day, ranging from opening the door for someone to helping someone who just got in a car wreck.


Premise 1: If objective moral values and duties exist then God exists

Premise 2: Objective morals values and duties do exist

Conclusion: Therefore, God exists

Think about it; ‘How does an amoral universe through non-moral processes end up with a moral framework?’  Ravi Zacharias

It is important to bear in mind that the moral argument pertains to the ultimate source of objective moral values and duties (moral ontology) and not how we know what is moral or immoral (moral epistemology) and not ‘what we mean’ by good/bad or right/wrong (moral semantics). The theistic ethicist maintains that moral values are grounded in the character and nature of God.’

Deut 32:4 ‘He is the Rock; His deeds are perfect. Everything He does is just and fair. He is a faithful God who does no wrong; how just and upright He is!

Moral Argument – Euthyphro’s Dilemma

Humans, being shaped in the image of God, have an intuitive sense of right and wrong. It is not at all clear how the atheist, except at the expense of moral realism, can maintain an objective standard of ethics without such a being as God as his ontological foundation.

Does this mean that atheists cannot be moral people? No, this is NOT at all what objective morality means! Of course, an atheist can be a good moral person. What’s ironic is that I know some atheists who are actually more moral than many Christians! A person does not have to believe in God to be a good person. This is more of an objection of epistemology, or how we know something. The atheist can know morality, it is written on all hearts, but they cannot justify or provide logical grounds for it.

Those who are divine command theorists maintain that moral duties are based on what God commands. Philosopher William Lane Craig puts it this way:

“Duty arises in response to an imperative from a competent authority. For example, if some random person were to tell me to pull my car over, I would have absolutely no legal obligation to do so. But if a policeman were to issue such a command, I’d have a legal obligation to obey. The difference in the two cases lies in the persons who issued the commands: one is qualified to do so, while the other is not.”

Practical Morality

In every individual, every community, every nation there is a sense, a knowing, that certain behaviors are wrong.  Even if ‘a wrongdoing’ won’t hurt or harm another individual for example, stealing some insignificant object from a very rich person who has so much that he won’t even miss what has been taken. Or taking something at work that nobody will miss, however minor it may be, as the company has so much of it.  To argue and accept that it is morally right to take it can be very difficult if not impossible. To some it might sound 'less wrong', but few would argue with absolute conviction in their hearts that stealing can be morally justified even under these circumstances. 'Instinctively' we know that certain things are wrong and that we have a choice to do the right thing, or not.  In Romans 2:15 we read ‘the requirements of the law are written on their hearts’.

Every individual, and therefore communities and nations throughout the world, accept the principles of right and wrong; it is written in our hearts - born within. There simply is something like 'right and wrong'. There are currently scientists who believe that this sense of right and wrong are actually located in specific genes, part of the human DNA - 'written in our hearts' as the Bible explains it! Though some would say that it is through natural selection for survival of the species that it became part of the human genetic makeup. It is however totally absent in all animal life, even in the highest and most advanced forms of animal life. Animals have no concept whatsoever of right and wrong. It makes us human to know about right and wrong.


What makes something right or what makes something wrong?

Philosophers would argue that right and wrong have developed over the millennia so that communities can function in an orderly fashion. But it is interesting that we find that the basic principles of right and wrong are the same in all nations across the globe even though they were separated by thousands of kilometers with vastly different cultures. Nations who have lived apart for thousands of years, before the age of travel and communication technology, before they had any contact with each other. Stealing, adultery (being intimate with some else’s life-partner, present or future), murder, false testimony/lying, all these are universally unacceptable or at least overcome by years of adjusting and justifying the opposite. What then, makes certain things universally wrong? Is it because of the way the world was created with built-in principles that only applies to humans and not animals?  The way we as humans were created, what is within our genes, within our hearts - Romans 2:15?


What is the standard that makes a certain human action or thought 'right'? What kind of entity or value system can or do we use or is available to us to decide that something is not right but wrong? Or is it relative to situations, relative to cultures, and other possible, multiple and changing factors?

If it is all relative and if the decision that something is morally right or wrong depends on variables we might find ourselves in the difficult, if not impossible situation, that no principles can be laid down or taught. We will find that we are in changing situations all the time and that morality becomes such a dynamically changing entity that it will crumble to nothing but individual taste. Hitler, Mao Tse-tung, Stalin, Cannibalism.

But if there is something like an absolute 'right' we could reasonably expect that there should be an absolute wrong. Few will argue that there is absolute beauty; stunning roses, stunning sunsets, and that there is absolute unsightly, displeasing ugliness; rivers strewn with rubbish, with dead fish, destroyed river banks overgrown with weeds. We perceive, appreciate and understand beauty so much better by realizing the reality of things that are ugly. In other words, beauty sets a standard and we measure ugliness against this standard. Nothing was created as ugly but human interference, disease and natural decay make things ugly.  If we see a perfect rose it becomes our standard against how we perceive and appreciate roses in the future that might be affected by age, plant disease, etc. So, for right and wrong to exist there must be something ‘right’, something perfectly right that we can use in our hearts as a standard to measure right and wrong against, to express what is written in our genes.  We read in Deuteronomy 32:4 ‘His works are perfect, and all His ways are just. A faithful God Who does no wrong’, and in II Samuel 22:31 and Psalm 18:30  we read ‘As for God, His way is perfect’; the word of the LORD is flawless’ Psalm 50:2 ‘… perfect in beauty, God shines forth’

God, the Creator of everything, is the perfect standard and what is not in this perfection, is wrong. And God is the One Who wrote His laws in our hearts so that we can know right from wrong. He is the unchangeable perfection against Whom we can and should measure all morality, all right and wrong. It is in our hearts; our conscience. Sadly our heart and conscience can be so easily manipulated by man's 'free will'.


When did man become aware of right and wrong?

'Wrong' was not always part of the creation. After God completed His creation it was declared  ‘God saw all that He made, and it was very good’ Genesis 1:31

And God gave man everything he needed, also the ability to choose. ‘You are free to eat from every tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die’ Genesis 2: 16-17. So man decided, man chose, not to believe God, but to disobey God and exercise his free will, as man is still doing every day. And he ate of the fruit that God forbid him. (Genesis3). And man suddenly found himself separated from God, knowing in his heart he did wrong. Sin and death entered the world. And in Genesis 6:5-6 we read ‘The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The LORD was grieved that He had made man on the earth, and His heart was filled with pain’   Our choice every day: to obey or to not obey, to do right or to do wrong hurts God and in our hearts, we know when we do wrong. We may have very clever arguments and reasons for our actions but inside our hearts we know and are separated from God.

Man also has the ability to kill this ‘knowing in his heart’ of what is right and what is wrong. When he managed to kill this knowing, with time and arguments, he calls it ‘liberal enlightenment’, but it is not much more than a dead spirit. Maybe good examples are homosexuality (but note; living a homosexual lifestyle, not the attraction to the same sex - we are all confronted with sexual and other feelings daily that we should respond to in the appropraite way)  or calling prostitution a profession and arguments to legalize it or living together as partners outside of marriage. Have you noticed that on television when prostitutes are interviewed, their faces are seldom shown? Could she possibly be proud of the work she does? Can she tell her friends and family that she is really happy in her work and if she could choose a career again that she would choose the same? That she would love it if her daughter would follow the same career? (Studies have shown that 86% of prostitutes would like to get out of their situation if they had the chance.)  Why? Because God said in His Word that He created sex between one woman and one man. Outside this God-created environment (marriage) it will only bring pain and hurt to the heart when not used for what it meant to be. A homosexual lifestyle hurts. Living together puts tremendous strain on the security of relationships.


Why is wrong/sin so important to God?

God is perfect and holy ‘I am the LORD your God …. I am holy’ Leviticus 12:7. ‘Your eyes are too holy to look at evil, and You cannot stand the sight of people doing wrong’. Habakkuk 1:13

The more perfect and holy God is, the less acceptable is wrong, sin, to Him. He is holiness, He is what holiness is, just as He is what love is (God does not have a lot of love, He is love and all love in the world is from Him and but a reflection of Him). So any form of unholiness is totally against His nature. Sin is what separates us from God. It drives a wedge between man and his Creator and alienates us from Him, makes us want to hide from God – the discomfort we experience when people talk about God, about Christianity, about the cross, about sin. But not so, if we have made peace with God and is in a personal relationship with Him. Then we can't talk enough about the God and the cross, the grace and the freedom we experience in our hearts. And there is nothing more pleasant than to be in His presence. Oswald Chambers wrote in My Utmost for His Highest 7 October ‘sin is a fundamental relationship issue - it is not wrongdoing but wrong being.  Being wrong in my relationship to God.’ And only when my sin is taken away can my relationship with God be restored and can I experience Him.


What are the consequences of not doing the right thing, to sin?

Whether you are a believer or not, sin has its consequences, it is built into the world systems by God. The Old Testament message is that if you obey God His whole creation is geared to bless you; it is built into life.  When you obey, blessings will follow. If you don’t, the consequence of sin is equally built-in His creation and you will experience the consequences of your actions. (Leviticus 26)  This is valid for believers as well as non-believers. We are all part of the same world created by the same Creator. To be practical; when I am confronted with a choice of doing the right thing or the wrong thing and choose the ‘right thing’ and do it, we all know that inner pleasant feeling of ‘I’ve done the right thing’ - a blessing from God. Or if I have chosen the opposite and experience that guilt feeling, the unpleasant feeling of knowing ‘I’ve not done the right thing’ - as God’s blessings are withdrawn.

You will experience blessings or curses in your obedience or disobedience on many levels of life. This can be through

  •   The Authorities.

Romans 13:1-7 ‘Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established’. Traffic rules and fines are in place and if you do not obey them, or do not pay your taxes honestly in every possible way, or commit crimes like stealing or worse, murder, you will bear the consequences of the law apart from the feelings of guilt in your heart.

  •       Society

The shame of being unfaithful to your wife when it comes to light. The shame when caught when you steal or lie, however minor.

  •     Physically.

I Corinthians 6:19-20 ‘Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, Who is in you …. Therefore honor God with your body’. He who would ignore this and for example smoke or use alcohol excessively will have the curse of this wrongdoing on him or her and it will slowly damage one's body and one will be at a significant risk of disease and premature death as a result. Another example:  God created sex for marriage and although so many people ignore this but the consequences of an unplanned pregnancy outside of marriage, the effects on his and her life, on the child’s life is real. If man would obey God and keep sex within marriage HIV/AIDS and all other sexually transmitted diseases would stop to exist.

  •         Nature.

Ezekiel 14:12 ‘if a country sins and is unfaithful to me, l will stretch out my hand and destroy its supply of food. I will send famine and kill people and animals alike. 21 This is what the Sovereign LORD is saying: "I will send my four worst punishments - war, famine, wild animals and disease.”’ Look at the world.

God’s actions are the consequences of our behaviour in this life.  He also tells us in His Word what the consequences of our actions will be in the life after death. This is not dependent on whether we believe Him or not. It is dependent on the integrity of God Himself, whether He would do what He says He will do.

Blessings and curses are all part of the fabric of life itself, designed by the Creator and will follow on our obedience or disobedience, sometimes immediately, sometimes only years later. Not there to threaten us but a reality because God and His holiness is real.

Walking with the Bible brings joy and fulfillment. Non-Biblical walking simply does not work and only brings frustration and sadness. The Bible is an authoritative and a highly practical handbook. Believing it and following it, or not believing it and not following it, has profound implications for our daily lives and so much more on our eternal salvation. The problem with the non-believer is that he seldom realizes that the consequences of his actions are Biblical truths.

Deuteronomy  11:26 ‘See I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse – a blessing if you obey the commands of the LORD your God that I am giving you today; the curse if you disobey the commands of the LORD your God and turn away from the way I command you today’. Isaiah 45:7 ‘I bring prosperity and create disaster: I, the LORD do all these things’

The problem with so many people in the western world is that they have forgotten that the fabric of western world society is based on 2000 years of following Biblical principles; consider the shame, and specifically if it is exposed, of steeling, of bribery, of being unfaithful to one's wife, of lying, and more if one's actions are exposed. And it is the ‘right thing’ to defend human rights, to build up good relations with people, with nations, to care for the poor. The blessings of God are seen in the relative stability and prosperity of these countries and their communities because of these godly principles that are built in their communities, established over thousands of years.

This is in sharp contrast to many parts of the world where it is not difficult to see the lack of God’s inbuilt blessings in societies and individual’s lives who live according to ungodly principles; dictators, terrorists, warlords, suicide bombers. The consequences of their ungodly actions can hardly be overlooked! And in the western world, we saw what the devastating consequences Hitler’s ungodly actions were on nations and individuals. And how his life came to a tragic end. Over the last 50 years, the western world, however, as a whole,  is denying God more and more, and His blessings will be withdrawn as they move away from godly Biblical principles and morality becomes more and more relative.

It is still going well with western world communities but they are forgetting about the Creator God. Deuteronomy  8: 11 ‘Be careful that you do not forget the LORD your God …  12 …when you eat and are satisfied when you built fine houses and settle down … 14 … your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God … 17 You may say to yourself “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me” 19 If you ever forget the LORD your God, I (God) will testify against you and you will surely be destroyed’

But, one can say, I live my own life and am not even sure if there is a God, I’ve done many ‘wrong’ things and nothing has happened – no lightning from heaven, or disease,  or reactions from society and even so with the soldiers who spat in Jesus’ face; nothing happened. God has a time for everything and the fact that ‘nothing’ happens immediately does not mean that nothing will happen. Isaiah 48:9 ‘For my Own sake I delay My wrath’ God’s unbelievable love gives us time to repent.’ Ezekiel 33:11 ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked (anyone who turned against God), but rather that they turn from their ways and live’. God gives us a time of grace, time to repent, time to come to Him through Christ just as He gave the Roman soldiers who crucified Him, time to repent and did not strike them down at that very moment.


How can we become acceptable to God?

See the character of God, His righteousness, His holiness, the perfect God Who is love. Ezekiel 34:11 ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: “I Myself will search for my sheep and look after them …. I will rescue them”’

We can only be acceptable to Him, to the holy God, when our sin is removed completely. Psalm 103:12 ‘as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us’ But God is a righteous God that will do what He said.  He will do. He is true to His own laws and promises. He will punish sin, His wrath will be unleashed (look at the suffering of Christ at the hand of the Romans. Will He spare us?) Deuteronomy 7:9 ‘He will keep His covenant and show His constant love to a thousand generations of those who love Him and obey His commands, but He will not hesitate to punish those who hate Him’.

Man chose to do wrong and God provided the Mediator, the only possible and complete way to be reconciled with God. And God’s wrath in its fullness came down on Jesus Christ on our behalf.

And man again has to choose and repent and accept this grace from the Father’s Hand and be free from the His wrath.

John 3:16 ‘For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life 17 For God did not send His Son to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him 18 Whoever believes in Him is not condemned but whoever does not believe stands condemned. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into His light, so that  it may be seen plainly that what He has done through God'.