God and Morals, Part 3

Posted by Matt Postiff June 6, 2014 on Matt Postiff's Blog under Theology 

Definition of Morals

We next must define what the word moral means. I'll use Google's help and ask it to "define moral" so we have a sense of how it is used in modern English.

Definition of Moral

Based on the repeated words and ideas in these definitions, morals have to do with principles, standards, beliefs, right, wrong, behavior and conduct.

As an adjective used to describe a person, the word refers to someone who holds or demonstrates high principles for proper conduct. What "high" exactly means is not defined.

As a noun, the word refers to the actual standards of behavior or beliefs themselves. These standards concern what is or is not acceptable conduct in that person's view.

Let me make three notes at this point. First, it is easy to see that one person's standards or beliefs about acceptable behavior can differ from another person's, sometimes vastly. Second, a person's standards can be inconsistent with themselves. And third, because morals have to do with acceptable conduct, it is clear that morals and sin are in fact closely related, contrary to the objector I cited in Part 1. Their relationship is at least this: sin has to do with behavior that is unacceptable according to God's standards of behavior, and so sin is that conduct which is out of accord with God's morals. We could even suppose a set of standards other than God's and talk about the relationship of morals to sin. Say a person named Jane has a set of morals. I violate one of those; I could be said to "sin," that is, miss the mark, of her standards of behavior or belief concerning what is appropriate to do or not do. Clearly morals and sin are related.

But there is another level to this question of the relationship between sin and morals that we need to investigate. More to come...

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