Value Differences

Some of us distrust God because we disagree with his moral values.

We condone things he condemns. He draws distinctions we dispute. We elevate issues he considers secondary. He esteems that which we deem dispensable.

Instead of aligning our moral values with God’s principles and precepts, we adjust our appraisal of God and his moral code to accommodate our values.

Underlying Motivation

Moral disagreements with God usually arise for one of five reasons.

We lack understanding of what God actually says in the Bible. Instead, we rely on the incorrect doctrine of those who are equally ignorant or on the rhetoric of those who actively oppose him.

We distrust God generally because he allows suffering to exist. We incorrectly believe that he is indifferent to affliction and, therefore, untrustworthy. We reject his moral values as a consequence of this misperception.

We are offended by judgmental believers who obnoxiously purport to speak for God. We understandably do not want to be associated with them. We mistakenly presume that God shares their contempt and disdain.

We are repulsed by the hypocrisy of reborn believers. We correctly believe they should live more righteously. We discard God’s values because they seem to have little bearing on the behavior of his stalwarts.

We are unwilling to agree with God, because that would require us to revise our values, and possibly change our behavior, sometimes at considerable social and economic risk. Disagreeing with God is safer, more comfortable, and maybe more pleasurable.

Regardless of our underlying motivation, moral disagreements with God evidence our fallen nature.

Natural Inclination

God embodies moral truth. His values emanate from his character. God created us in his image, which means he gave us a flawless nature that was designed to uphold his moral code.

Our nature became corrupt when Adam and Eve sinned. Now we tend to supplant God’s moral code with our own, so we can justify doing whatever we want, whenever we want.

We would like to think that God concurs with our moral values since we are products of his handiwork, and he loves us unconditionally. But this is untrue.

God’s internal consistency would not allow him to create us in his image, with a nature that opposes the moral values emanating from his character.

And the unconditional aspect of God’s love does not constitute an endorsement of the moral values embraced by our corrupt nature.

Instead, our natural inclination to subvert God’s moral code confirms that the flawless nature he initially gave us has been marred by sin.

Moral Relativism

Dismissing God’s moral values gives rise to moral relativism.

God is innately and singularly good. Therefore, his moral values are good. Abiding by them produces goodness. Moral relativism justifies alternate values that are less than ideal. Abiding by them produces inferior outcomes.

God’s moral values represent absolute truth. Like him, they are immutable. To the extent we disagree with God, our moral values represent provisional truth. We can edit them anytime to accommodate situational changes.

God’s moral values are objectively true for everyone because he is morally superior to each of us. To the extent we disagree with God, our moral values are subjectively true for us, but not objectively true for others because we are merely equal to them, not morally superior to them.

Those who disagree with our moral values live by their own moral codes. And since they are morally equal to us, their values have the same validity as ours. We may dislike their moral codes, but we lack standing to justly condemn them.

Societies establish formal and informal moral codes for their members. These cultural norms are transient to the extent they differ from God’s moral code because societies change over time.

All societies are morally equal because the individuals who comprise them are moral equals. So, conflicting norms among societies are equally valid. We may dislike the norms in other cultures, but we lack the moral authority to deem them unjust.

Moral relativism permits our worst traits to flourish because it can ultimately justify every act of wickedness. Abiding by God’s moral code nurtures our virtue because it aligns our behavior with his character.

Small God

Disagreeing with God about moral values requires us to diminish him and the Bible.

If God exists, and if he is our Creator, then he is superior to us and sovereign over us. His moral values supersede ours.

If the Old and New Testament authors were divinely inspired when they wrote their original manuscripts, and if these documents have been accurately copied through the centuries, then the Bible faithfully conveys God’s moral values.

To discredit God’s moral code, we must believe that one or more of these claims is false. This requires us to disregard the testimony of nature, history, and textual criticism.

Contrarian Dilemmas

Nature evidences the existence of God and his role as our Creator.

To argue that God is nonexistent, or not our Creator, we must explain how the energy, matter, time, and space comprising the universe materialized from nothing. We must describe how life spontaneously emerged from these lifeless elements and began to reproduce itself.

We must account for the natural laws that have kept the universe orderly since its inception. We must identify the author of the DNA instructions that govern cell behavior. We must explain why we are born with an innate sense of right and wrong.

Nature supplies enough evidence of God’s existence, and his role as our Creator, to satisfy those who are willing to follow him on his terms. No amount of evidence is sufficient for those who want to live independently of him.

History testifies to the divine inspiration of the Bible.

Old Testament prophecies concerning Babylon, Phoenicia, Assyria, Egypt, Persia, Greece, and Israel—not to mention Jesus—were fulfilled years, decades, and sometimes centuries after they were recorded. Other Old and New Testament prophecies about future events are currently trending toward fulfillment.

God purposely included prophecies in the Bible about easily verifiable historical events, so their fulfillment would validate its divine inspiration.

Evidence for the textual accuracy of the Bible far exceeds that of other ancient texts.

Like other works of antiquity, the original Bible manuscripts disintegrated into dust long ago. The Old and New Testaments we read today have been reconstructed from copies of these documents.

In aggregate, we have thousands of partial or complete copies of the Old and New Testament books. Portions of some copies of the Gospels are dated within a few decades of the events they describe.

We can be confident the Bible we read today is a faithful rendition of the original manuscripts because so many of these copies agree textually.

There is less evidence for the textual accuracy of other ancient texts, such as the writings of Plato. Aristotle, and Socrates, and the historical accounts recorded by Josephus, Herodotus, and Thucydides.

Few copies of their original manuscripts exist. The oldest texts are dated centuries or even millennium after these men lived. If we deem the Bible unreliable, we must also disregard their writings.

God’s Perspective

Misguided believers dogmatically contend that God hates—as they do—those who disagree with certain tenets of his moral code.

They are wrong. In fact, they are breaking God’s third commandment when they invoke his name to justify their hatred.

God dislikes the sins that follow our rejection of his moral code—in whole or part—but his love for us is not conditioned on our agreement with his values.

God loves and cherishes us, and respects our dignity, despite our disagreements with him and his disapproval of our sinfulness.

Moral disagreements are secondary issues to God unless they interfere with his priorities for us and for those we influence.

God’s Priorities

God’s primary concern is our salvation. Above all else, he wants us to qualify for heaven so we can spend eternity with him.

The quality of our communion with him is his next priority. He wants us to love him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.

God’s third priority is the quality of our interpersonal relationships. He wants us to treat others the way we want them to treat us.

God knows that if we live out these priorities, everything else he wants for and from us will fall into place, including our adoption of his moral code.

Eternal Treasure

Jesus told his disciples a parable in Matthew 13:44 that pertains to moral disagreements with God. Here it is:

The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.

Jesus used the phrase “kingdom of heaven” in his teachings to reference the reign of God in our life. This reign is not a function of his conquest or dominance. It is a matter of our acceptance and consent.

God’s reign in us begins when we accept his free gift of salvation through Jesus. After that, it entails our voluntary submission to his authority and our willing consent to let him renew us as he sees fit. Implicit in God’s reign is our conscious agreement with his moral values.

As with other changes he makes in our life, God never demands that we abide by his moral values, even after we ask him to reign in us. Instead, he gives us the desire to uphold his moral values as we walk in harmony with him. We eventually adopt his moral code to please us, as well as him.

Jesus tells us through this parable that the benefits of establishing God’s reign in us—true contentment in this life and eternal bliss in the next life—are worth far more than the risk we take, the price we pay, and the control we relinquish.