A MATTER OF THE HEART
Even Gentiles, who do not have God’s written law, show that they know his law when they instinctively obey it, even without having heard it. 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 2:14-15 New Living Translation)
Here, Paul is making what is known as the Moral Argument for God’s existence. This argument simply states:
- If objective moral laws exist, then a transcendent moral law Giver (God) must exist.
- Objective moral laws do exist.
- Therefore, God exists.
What this argument is appealing to, as Paul states in this passage from Romans, is that all of us know that there is a right and a wrong. Despite the enormous disparity that may exist between various cultures in different parts of the world over the millennia of man’s existence, certain attitudes and actions have universally been held to be good and honorable, while others are considered to be wrong and reprehensible. The only possible explanation for this is that moral laws are transcendent — they come from a source outside ourselves. The knowledge of right and wrong, in other words, is hardwired into us by a creator.
Nevertheless, there is an attempt in our postmodern world to deny this reality. In fact, the word “post-truth” was the Oxford Dictionary “word of the year” in 2016. The idea of objective truth – that a thing is true regardless of one’s opinion or subjective feelings about it – is just too much for the modern (or postmodern) man! In fact, not only are objective moral values under fire today, but reality itself is under assault. For example, the transgender movement, despite all biological evidence to the contrary, is attempting to tell us that gender is a matter of choice rather than birth. (This is especially interesting in the light of the fact that the LGBTQ lobby has been telling us for years that being gay is a matter of birth rather than choice.) There is no scientific evidence to undergird this subjective viewpoint from the transgender community, and yet, public policy has been altered to accommodate this misapprehension of reality. I even read of one teacher in Great Britain who lost his job because he refused to call a girl who identified as a boy according to the corresponding, politically correct pronoun. Call someone who identifies as a “he” a “she” and you’re out of a job, despite having all universally and historically recognized reality behind you.
Naturally, this type of out of control political correctness leads to all kinds of absurdities. Can I begin to collect Social Security if I identify as a sixty-five-year-old woman? We laugh, but these are questions our society now has to grapple with, simply because of a desire by some to deny objective moral truth. Biological males have competed in all-girl sporting events in public schools due to their identifying as a female, while school officials stand by clueless as to how to play along with the charade in the face of outrage coming from parents who aren’t willing to swallow the politically correct cultural ethos. The reason for this denial of reality should be obvious: if we can deny objective realities, including objective moral values, we can rewrite good and evil to suit our own purposes.
When the Bible served as our society’s guide to moral truth, things were pretty clear. Marriage was recognized as a covenant between one man and one woman. Men were males, and women were females, and they used public restrooms accordingly. By the way, gender is clearly not subjective according to God’s Word. In Genesis 1:27 we read, “So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; MALE and FEMALE he created them” (emphasis mine). If you had told me even five years ago that one day I would be writing articles to defend this seemingly obvious fact, I would have thought you mad. Instead, it’s our postmodern world that has gone mad, endeavoring to deny as truth what is, in reality, plain to everyone. No matter how carefully crafted the arguments by its proponents, this new ideological emperor has no clothes!
The problem with trying to bend reality to one’s will is that the universe simply won’t oblige. When it comes to the transgender issue, for example, there is simply no way to transition from a man to a woman, or visa-versa, through sexual reassignment surgery. Our “maleness and femaleness” go far deeper than such surface, cosmetic changes. Our gender is hardwired into us on the genetic level, and studies have found that sexual reassignment surgery does not eliminate the confusion or frustration suffered by those in the transgender community. Besides, since objective realities do exist, despite any and all attempts to deny them, if we affirm someone’s false, self-diagnosis of their gender, we are not helping them cope with reality but reinforcing a false narrative that is hurting both them and our culture.
I am using the transgender issue as an example of our moral crisis because, for most of us, the problem is easy to identify, and it is a very real crisis in our nation at this time. However, the fact is that ANY denial of objective moral truth to accommodate a lifestyle that is inconsistent with the way God made things to be is equally wrong. Though it may be a shock to some, society is NOT the arbiter of what is right and good and true, nor are pop icons like Lady Gaga or Miley Cyrus. God is. He created the world as it is, and any denial of His truth is to embrace a lie and live out of sync with reality.
If objective moral laws did not exist, there would be no foundation upon which our civil laws could stand. How could we judge any person’s actions, or one nation’s acts of aggression against another, as criminal if right and wrong were merely relative concepts? If moral values are merely a social construct, then why do all cultures universally recognize certain acts as crimes against humanity? I think you can see where I’m going, but there is a larger point to all of this.
As one who teaches Christian apologetics, I help others learn how to defend the Christian faith against intellectual objections in order to remove roadblocks to faith. Some objections are sincere and deserve a rational, biblically-based answer. Since all truth belongs to God, if a thing is true, it’s not only true biblically. It will also be shown true scientifically, philosophically, and existentially, as far as that the particular truth lies within any one of those domains. For example, our claim that God created the universe is not only proven true by the first chapter in Genesis, but by the latest scientific evidence in cosmology, astronomy, and physics. There are also potent philosophical arguments that can be made to demonstrate this.
In other words, if something is true, it’s simply true across the board. Therefore, we can adequately defend the Christian faith using a wide array of arguments, and it would behoove us all to learn to do so, especially in our increasingly skeptical culture. However, there is something all believers need to understand about some of these objections to the Christian faith. Many of them are not sincere. They merely mask a desire to avoid moral accountability to God.
The unspoken argument goes something like this: “If I can find a reasonable enough objection to deny the existence of God, then I can continue to live my life on my own terms without having to worry about being judged for my choices.” Even the statement itself implies an awareness of objective moral truth being directly tied to God’s existence. What is really behind the vociferous voices stridently denying God’s existence in our culture today is often a desire for autonomy from God’s authority. If truth is non-negotiable, then one has to acknowledge and surrender to its authority, thus we have an all-out war against truth and the very nature of reality itself. It’s an attempt to completely redraw the map of reality to avoid accountability to God. It is a futile attempt, however, for even children known when they are being naughty, and so should we. Thus, the question of God’s existence is very often not so much a matter of the mind as it is a matter of the heart.
No matter how sophisticated the arguments or justifications become, they are powerless to remove the stain of sin on the human heart. Christ alone can do that. He Himself is the embodiment of truth and the very righteousness of God, yet He stepped in to take our place in judgment that we might be pardoned and reconciled to God. Jesus said that He was “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). When we surrender our lives to Him, we find the peace that comes from aligning our hearts and lives with God and with reality. That peace cannot be found in this world, but in the God who put the compass of truth in our hearts to begin with.
Dr. Randy Bunch is the pastor of West Kern Christian Center, located at 1000 6th Street in Taft, California, as well as a graduate advisor and adjunct professor at Summit Bible College in Bakersfield, California. He is the author of several books, including his new devotional, Immutable: Changeless Truth for a Changing World. For more information, or to purchase your copy, go to randylanebunch.org. For more information on the ministries of WKCC, you can go the ministry’s website at wkcconnect.org.