What is Morality?

What Is Morality?

If you could do something to improve your country, how would you make it better?  If someone else were trying to improve America, what kind of changes would you support?

The Barna research group did a survey and asked questions like these to more than a thousand American adults.  You can see a summary of what they found in the table below.

What Changes Do Americans Want? (1)

All Adults

Evangelical Christians

Catholic

Non-Christian religions

Atheist / Agnostic
Remove the 10 Commandments from government buildings

18%

< 0.5%

18%

32%

55%

Remove “In God We Trust” from money

13%

1%

15%

28%

37%

Remove “One Nation Under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance

15%

4%

13%

24%

40%

Teach creationism in public schools

59%

86%

59%

42%

29%

Allow the “F-word” on broadcast TV

15%

6%

19%

21%

35%

Make Christianity the official religion of the U.S.

32%

66%

24%

21%

8%

(Base: 1024 adults)

Look at the way each group of people responded to the survey.   The conservative evangelical Christians seemed to be against any change to would make God less important to America.  For example, less than one percent of evangelical Christians supported removing the Ten Commandments from government buildings.  What changes would they actually support?

Atheists, who believe there is no God, and agnostics, who say they are not sure whether there is a God, were not strongly against those changes like the evangelical Christians were.  For example, fifty-five percent of atheists and agnostics supported removing the Ten Commandments.  Which change would they have supported the least?

Atheists and Christians disagree partly because they have different moral views. A moral view is a collection of ideas about what is right and what is wrong.  Because an atheist doesn’t believe in God, he will not let the Bible define his moral view for him.  Instead, he will look for some other way to decide what is right and wrong.

A Christian, on the other hand, should allow God to define her moral view.  God made the world, and He has the correct understanding of how it works.  Take a look at these Bible passages:

  • By wisdom the Lord laid the earth’s foundations, by understanding He set the heavens in place; by His knowledge the deeps were divided, and the clouds let drop their dew.  (Proverbs 3:19-20)
  • For the Lord gives wisdom, and from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.  (Proverbs 2:6)
  • The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. (Proverbs 9:10)

God gives us knowledge through His Word.  Because of what He tells us, we learn to hate things that are wrong because God hates them too.

  • All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.  (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
  • You must not worship your God in their way, because in worshiping their gods, they do all kinds of destestable things the Lord hates.  They even burn their sons and daughters in the fire as sacrifices to their gods.  See that you do all I command you; do not add or take away from it.  (Deuteronomy 12:31-32)
  • I gain understanding from Your precepts; therefore I hate every false path.  (Psalm 119:104)

Discussion Questions

  1. Give two examples of something an evangelical Christian might think is right.  Then give two examples of something she might thing is wrong.  Give a Scripture passage to support each of your examples.
  2. Pick one of the Bible passages from this lesson and explain it in your own words.  Then explain how the Bible passage shows that God is the source of the correct moral view.
  3. Give two examples of something an atheist might think is right.  Then give two examples of something he might thing is wrong.  For each of your examples, explain how the atheist’s belief that there is no God has influenced his moral view.
  4. What kind of country do you think evangelical Christians want America to become?
  5. What kind of country do you think atheists and agnostics want America to become?
  6. Give an example of something in your own moral view that is consistent with what the Bible teaches.  Then give an example of something in your moral view that is not consistent with what the Bible teaches.  What do you think you can do to live a life that is guided by the Bible’s moral view?

This worksheet and other materials are available at TeachBible.com.

References

  1. How “Christianized” Do Americans Want Their Country To Be?  05 Oct. 2005  <http://www.barna.org/FlexPage.aspx?Page=BarnaUpdate&BarnaUpdateID=168>.  The table “What Changes Do Americans Want?” is adapted from the table “Support For Changes in Public Policy” in the page referenced here.
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