I recently was studying Genesis chapter three and came across a thought. I'm putting it out here to generate comment.
Over a couple of decades, I've tried to understand the word, "moral." Here is a working definition which captures what I know of this word. Moral means, “knowing the difference between good and bad." Dictionary.com seems to agree when it defines moral as an adjective meaning "of, pertaining to, or concerned with the ... distinction between right and wrong."
Are we all OK with that definition?
So, we get to Genesis three and morality is the presenting issue. The serpent - who we later are told is an embodiment of God’s angelic adversary, “Satan” or “Lucifer” – brings this characteristic before Eve in chapter three, the first five verses. The serpent asks Eve about the one restriction placed on her and Adam. He then tells her that she is missing something; she is missing “morality.”
Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God actually say, 'You shall not eat of any tree in the garden'?"
2 And the woman said to the serpent, "We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden,
3 but God said, 'You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'"
4 But the serpent said to the woman, "You will not surely die.
5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." (Gen 3:1-5 ESV)
By the definition we have above; is God “moral?” Sure – and the serpent affirms that: God knows good from evil. God being moral is a good thing. Remember, at this time God had declared that all was "very good."
But, at this point in time, are humans “moral?” No – that’s exactly the point that the serpent is making. Humans are not, yet, moral – is that a good thing or a bad thing? It’s a good thing because, again, God had described the situation as “very good”.
But Eve is deceived (2Cor 11:3) into thinking that “morality” will make her more wise. She eats the apple – gives some to Adam and he eats. Are their eyes opened to “morality?” Yes.
What’s the result? It is not good.
I’m going to mess with you a bit.
Is “morality” a good thing?
In my reading of the text, there were two options presented to Adam and Eve. One was “obedience” to God’s clearly revealed will. The other was the promise of “morality.” As it turned out, which was the better option? Obedience to God’s clearly revealed will is always better than “morality.”
Not obedience to ungodly man-made rules.
Not obedience to an ungodly philosophy of life.
Not obedience to ungodly dogma or ideology.
Not obedience to some obscure or bizarre interpretation of God’s word.
Obedience to God’s clearly revealed will.
Humanity does not use morality well, at all. Our consciences are unreliable (Rom 2:15; 1Cor 8:7 1Tim 1:5, 4:2; Tit 1:15; Heb 10:22). In fact, we genetically pre-disposed to do very badly at morality. That is because we are born broken and act accordingly.
The problem is that while God being moral is a good thing, human “morality” is always messed up and many times creates judgmental attitudes, oppression, legalistic rules and regulations, and sometimes even monstrous evil.
Yep, we learned about good and evil. But we are so small that when we try to do good, we accomplish evil instead.
I think of a five year old child in grandpa’s tool shed. He looks at the shiny and powerful chainsaw. He knows he can probably start it up – he’s seen it done. Does anyone think that’s a good thing for the child to do?
Only when we get God’s help do we have a chance at doing morality well. Why? Because he is God and we are not.
So now, humanity is “moral.”
Comments, questions, concerns?