Thursday, January 10, 2013

The moral law ain't arbitrary

One of the clubs that the secular folks try to beat on us with is this notion that God is a petulant child who doesn't like it when people don't do what He says.  And because He is all powerful, He gets to be a big bully and torture people for eternity for not bowing to His arbitrary wishes.

This infantile view of God and morality is reinforced when well meaning but misguided Christians that lack a proper grounding in philosophy and theology (mostly because the non-denominations have jettisoned anything resembling theology) appeal to how society should be ordered "because it is God' will".  What they don't realize is that this plays right into the arbitrary feel of God's will.

The annoying part is that this whole line of thinking is a non-starter.  Morality is not simply a list of rules to live by.  Morality goes to the very heart of who we are as humans, and our relationship to God.  The very nature of morality ultimately goes to not just our own benefit, but our true destiny.

All good, joy, and happiness leads to God.  God is literally good.  The Divine Attributes and the Divine Essence are one and the same.  When we chase good, we are chasing God.

An atheist will protest this on the grounds that they can be good without God.  But this is begging the question.  And aside from this, we are talking about the consistency of the Theistic viewpoint.

If God is good, separation from Him leads to misery.  Torture at the loss of Joy Itself.  A life without Joy, or even the hope of Joy, is an existence too terrible to comprehend.  Yet this is precisely the existence that we choose if we cast God out of our lives.

In my own experience I first started to follow the moral law because I feared Hell.  This is not uncommon.
But as my faith grew I realized that I should follow these rules because they are good for me.  They conform to our true nature.  And we grow in a relationship with the One whom we love.

Like a small child we obey our parents not out of some pure love for them but because we don't want to get punished.  As we grow we may at times disobey them and are punished for it.  As we get older and their influence wanes, we may strike out on our own and reject their advice.  And the world smacks us for it.  In those moments we realize that our parents were teaching us "rules" because they loved us and wanted us to be the most we could be.  And what they taught us was how life works, and what we must do.

God's will is even more important because the moral law goes right to our very nature.  It describes who we are, and what we are meant to be.  Ultimately it is oriented toward God, and how we are to treat one another.  What it ultimately reveals is that we are meant to be beings of Love, as God is.  When we reject his will we turn inward, and in doing so cut ourselves off from Love.

We are meant to be followers of the moral law because it is who we are.  The "rules" point to our true human nature.  This is why the Psalmist proclaims that we find joy in His law.  We owe it to ourselves, our fellow man, and most importantly to God to discover His will and to follow.  Only then can we find the Joy we all seek.

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