The capacity of human reason to be flawless was the foundation of the Enlightenment which placed its hope in an utopian dream where humanity would be limitless in its potential perfection. Marquis de Condorcet (1743-1794) wrote, «We have witnessed the development of a new doctrine which is to deliver the final blow to the already tottering structure of prejudice. It is the idea of the limitless perfectibility of the human species.» To the Enlightment thinkers, man and society were perfectible. This ideology placed man at the center of the universe and the maker of absolutes.
The Enlightenment thinkers promoted that mankind, through human reason, could create a peaceful and perfect world with the proper logic, reasoning, rules and laws (government). The idea was that man was sovereign and could create its own absolutes of right and wrong. To them, if God was real, He was not interested in or had no power over what man did. Therefore, in this kind of thinking, God doesn’t determine truth and justice, but man in his sovereign capacity to know truth apart from God, was what decided right and wrong, good and evil. This humanistic foundation would seek to place mankind as the source knowledge when it came to justice, rules, morality, and society norms. This kind of philosophical pillar caused society to base morality, good, and evil on the shifting foundation of a fluid culture. So, as the culture changed, so did what is moral, right and wrong. Due to the evolving desires of the population, what was considered wrong in the past was now the acceptable way of living. Thus as morality morphed into a new image, according to the new cultural norms that man had decided, to stand against it based upon the old norm, was then considered unacceptable.
We see this kind of thinking governing our world today. What is morally acceptable in our culture is determined by a majority vote, a Supreme Court, or pop culture. If we just look at a few examples we can see the shift that has occurred over the past few decades. All we have to do is take a look at the examples of abortion, gay marriage and fornication. Not too long ago all three were considered wrong by the culture and a sin before God. Today, all three are more than morally acceptable, but now even celebrated by our society to the point that school children are being forced fed by the system to accept them as right, and even more so, called to stand against those who call these now acceptable lifestyles wrong. Here is the irony of all this. Many claim to have faith in God, but have determined that He must agree with their current view of morality, or if He does not agree with it, it does not matter in the end anyway. In other words, religiously there is a desire to have God’s blessings, yet practically in every day life, He should remain silent and keep His opinions to Himself. So, we want His gift of eternal life (for in our warped sense of justice we deserve it anyway), yet we reject His Lordship over our everyday lives.
Here is an example of our flawed human reasoning. In the past few years a hot topic in the news has been the issue of racism. There have been several incidents that have raised awareness of the evil of racism. Racism is evil. How do we know? Scripture tells us so. All people are created in the image of God, thus an act of violence toward another human is an act of violence against God Himself, not because man is divine, but because he had the imprint of God’s image in him. In practical terms, our society has no problem with this. It screams for everyone to end racism and will even use God and Scripture to defend its position. Racism is not morally acceptable in our culture. Yet, while our culture rightfully condemns racism, it marches in its gay rights parades, it encourages women to kill their unborn babies, and it promotes sexuality outside of marriage. The flaw in the logic is that it embraces the parts of God’s law that it currently agrees with, while at the same time rejects His word in matters that conflict with the lifestyles that are accepted by the majority, or at least the group who yells the loudest and has the greatest media converage.
Yet, we must understand that morality is not determined by 51% of the vote. The majority do not determine right and wrong. Man, by nature, cannot be the moral compass of culture. A created being cannot tell the Creator what to call good and evil. Can a finite person really have the capacity to decide good and evil by themselves? If so, which finite person’s opinions decide for the rest of mankind? Can we all live peaceably with our own personal view of good and evil? What happens when our views conflict? Who decides who is right and who is wrong? Where is the foundation for justice? In man’s shifting morality how can culture find stability? The answer is simple: It cannot. As society continues to reject God as the source of good and evil, right and wrong, truth and justice, and seeks to be its own moral compass, the cracks in its shaky foundation will continue to grow until one day, it will crumble to the ground, and its fall will be great. No matter the size, strength, intelligence, or control a person, society, or government may have, outside of the Lordship of Christ, it will not stand. History shows this and Scripture foretells it. To believe otherwise is to commit intellectual and moral suicide.
So where is our hope? In man? History as well as the present show us clearly the answer is no. All we have to do is look in the mirror and we know that our hope is not in our own human reasoning. No, our hope is where it has always been, and where it will always be: In Christ Jesus.
“And now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers.But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled. Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago. – Acts 3:17-21