By the way, this issue is probably the single biggest thing that led me to leave Christianity so many years ago. I realized that if someone today said that God had told them many of the things that the authors of the bible attributed to God, we would quite literally consider them insane. If a Hitler or Stalin claimed that God told them that it was okay to kill everyone in a neighboring country except the virgin women, to be taken as the spoils of war, we would consider that to be the very essence of insanity and savagery. Yet when Moses makes that same claim, no one blinks at it. Well, I blinked. I do not for a moment believe that God would command anyone to do something so clearly barbaric, not today, not yesterday and not ever. And no one, not even the staunchest fundamentalist, would disagree with me if it happened today. But they won't apply the same standards to biblical events and figures. At any rate, it should be clear to all but the most blinded that in regard to these two issues, slavery and war, our modern moral standards are entirely opposed, and infinitely superior, to biblical moral standards.It is not my intent to address the theological questions that Ed raises in this post. There are certainly other bloggers more capable of addressing how the Abrahamic and Mosaic Covenants relate to the Davidic and New Covenants (e.g., Mark Roberts, Jollyblogger, and Wheat & Chaff); as well as resources addressing the differences between culturally specific legal guidelines and universally applicable commandments (e.g., What We Can’t Not Know). What I’d like to address is the thought that Ed expresses in his last sentence: “…our modern moral standards are entirely opposed, and infinitely superior, to biblical moral standards.” In fact, he prefaces his quotes from the Bible with the same thought, “Not only has our morality "evolved" since biblical days, it has evolved for the better.” Did you catch it? – it has evolved for the better. For anyone to claim that one form of morality is better than another presupposes some separate standard with which to compare the two. Regardless of whether a secularist wants to admit it, he is, in effect, appealing to a higher standard that all "forms" of morality must answer to. This leaves the atheistic naturalist in a sticky predicament, for if nature is all there is, and morality has any authority at all, then where did it come from? The logical conclusion is that morality is, in reality, an illusion – some sort of sick joke that humanity has fallen for. For a mere naturalist (i.e., not necessarily an atheist), the issue is partly resolved through deism. Yet even the deist is left wondering how (and if) an impersonal deity interacts with human morality. A non-interacting deity might as well be a non-existent deity; and the implications of an interacting, authoritative deity seem to be self-defeating for the concept of deism itself. If morality is relative and can change over time, then who’s to say that one version is better than another? Yet, if we can understand that one application of morality is not only better than another, but that certain moral principles apply to all people at all times, we had better well understand that we aren’t in charge. Postscript: For another look at how morality seems to be “evolving,” check Joe Carter’s post The Negation of Love: Abortion and the “Culture of Me,” in which he highlights how twisted views of morality have resulted in pre-abortion women writing “love” letters to their soon-to-be-killed unborn children. One chilling example is,
For my little angel: Although I say goodbye to you today, you will always be in my mind, heart, and soul. Please understand that this wasn’t your time because you are better off in the hands of God than mine at this moment. My own creation, you are and forever will be beautiful and pure. I smile when I think of you, even if I cry. You have given me reason to be strong and wise and responsible. You will always be my baby. I will see you in heaven, sweetheart. I LOVE YOU! Always and unconditionally, Your Mommy.Please read the comments section at Joe’s post as well for insight into how our 21st century culture attempts to rationalize such letters. Also, check the Touchstone article Her Mother's Glory, by Robert Hart, in which he discusses the connection between his giving his adopted daughter away at her wedding and a victim of rape, left pregnant by the rapist.