Christian Ethics Posts

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I realized that a lot of the older posts still in my Favorite Posts list (not to mention a number of newer ones) have to do with Christian ethics, by which I mean either philosophical reasoning about ethical issues but from Christian premises or biblical discussion of complex ethical topics in an attempt to discern what the biblical view on that issue amounts to. I think I'm coming to realize that these are some of my best posts, and it would be nice to collect them together. For now, I'm just including some of the older ones to clear out the Favorite Posts list, since it's still pretty long. See my Favorite Posts list for seven more that will probably end up here at some point. I'm not including anything on homosexuality because I've talked about that enough to have its own collection of posts. Some of those posts really would belong here since they fit under the topic, but since I've written so much on that it's nice for those posts all to be together.

Update (11-27-04): I've added more from earlier in the blog.
Update 2 (12-18-04): I've added one more post (Lying) that I had originally wanted to leave in the sidebar a little longer. It's been long enough.

God and Morality looks at what philosophers call the meta-ethical issues of how God and morality relate to each other. Are moral truths true simply because God says so? Does God say they're true because they're independently true? I say no to both.

Delight in Sin looks at the unhealthy voyeurism directed at celebrities' sinful actions that's prevalent among evangelical Christians in America today. It's a good example of a way the cultural values of the world can affect Christians without their realizing it.

Intellectuals and Grasping the Mercies of God looks at some practical tips for someone like me who has a harder time with the affective elements of a relationship with God. This isn't so much ethical reasoning as practical tips for a good life, which the ancient philosophers would have seen as the essence of ethics.

Christians and Intermarriage looks at the issue of a believer marrying a nonbeliever. I don't think most Christians have grasped the reasons why the Bible is so down on that sort of thing. The canned answer from Paul's words to the Corinthian believers needs a lot more work, given the context of that passage. Well, I've tried to do that work in this post, delving into a whole biblical theology of marriage and intermarriage.

God's Will and Naturalism argues for a mediating position between two extremes, that God doesn't speak to use through a subjective means and that we should expect God to do this all the time. I argue that we should see scripture as our primary source for knowing God's will, along with the abilities to reason that he created us with, all assuming that we are asking him to reveal to us what he will. That doesn't limit God's means of speaking to us, but it also doesn't assume he'll speak the way we want him to. I conclude by showing how I think it's naturalistic assumptions that guide people to take the two extreme views that I'm trying to find a middle spot between.

'Thee' and 'Thou' looks at whether there are moral reasons to use archaic pronouns when talking to God (or in your preferences for a certain translation of the Bible). I argue that there are no such moral reasons, and it's even a bad idea to use those pronouns in public prayers. Then I criticize equally strongly anyone who is willing to complain about people who use those pronouns or think negatively about them.

Unfair Portraits of Opponents' Positions considers the common rhetorical tactic of describing someone else's views in a way they wouldn't approve of. I often complain about people misrepresenting some viewpoint, and there's something right about that complaint. Still, sometimes it's right to portray a view for what it is, even if the person holding it doesn't admit that that's what their view is. The biblical authors, particularly the prophets, do that all the time, as does Jesus.

A lot of people nowadays call something idolatry when it doesn't involve worshiping a literal other god. I realized one day that I hadn't really thought about whether there was any biblical support for this. It turns out there is, and I just hadn't thought through it very well. Idolatry explains this reasoning.

Divine Capitalization looks at the moral reasons people give for capitalizing pronouns that refer to God. I argue that, if they lead anywhere, the moral considerations lead in the opposite direction.

I'm really bothered when a stupid issue causes a split among Christians, and Division in the Body of Christ looks at when it's right to allow that and when it's worth doing all we can to prevent it, with some time spent on those who say they're Christians but avoid the organized church, which Organized Religion and the Church continues in more depth.

Righteous Anger looks at a couple examples of things people call righteous anger as evidence that we really like to call unrighteous things righteous anger. I think it's very rare that any mere human being has genuinely righteous anger uncorrupted by something else.

What Should Christians Think of July 4? is pretty self-explanatory. I argue that there can be something very wrong with standard American attitudes toward having a holiday about patriotism and the celebration of a war that I think Christians shouldn't have supported, yet I also think there's something Christians should very much appreciate and recognize on that day.

In Evangelicals and Politics, I explain a number of things that make me extremely wary of the religious right. I'm extremely conservative in terms of my Christian beliefs, and I'm fairly conservative politically, but somehow the combination of the two does not make me fit in much with religious right conservatism. At the same time, there are things more liberal evangelicals do that I want to avoid also. This post jumps around to a number of issues, but it's sort of a centralized location for what I think about a number of political issues and what those views have to do with my being Christian.

Lying takes the controversial view that lying is not always wrong, on both philosophical and biblical grounds. Lying is prima facie wrong, perhaps, being wrong in most cases. It's not the act itself but the motivation that makes it wrong, and lying for other motivations may be not just not wrong but actually morally obligatory. A few biblical and non-biblical examples illustrate, and comparison with deceit that isn't technically lying helps to show why motivation is what's important and not deception itself.

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