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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The One Who Defines Right and Wrong


Do you ever have times when one little word perturbs you?  The other day, I ran across such a word in a devotional book my wife and I read together.  But first let me raise the thoughts that made me notice it. 

In recent readings, I have run across something in a few writings by some Christian teachers of various sorts that got me thinking.  The core of their comments was that they were questioning and discussing whether divorce is right or wrong.  It really struck me that making that determination was so important for them to debate and decide.  Yet there was no discussion as to the rightness or wrongness of behaviors within the marriage that were the precipitating cause of the divorce.  I wonder, how can someone declare one wrong without addressing the other?  For some reason, they were all worried about divorce, and not worried enough about wrongful actions between mates.

So that was already on my mind, when we read the little devotional writing (and I’d rather not give the reference..sorry).  The writer was discussing God’s answers to our prayers, and how his timing and answers don’t always come in the way we expect them to come.  The next line made the comment that God answers in the way “that He feels is right.”  Does anything about that bother you? I think it should.

You see, it is ridiculous to relegate God’s determination of right and wrong to feelings:  that is a misunderstanding of God and the nature of right and wrong.  It isn’t about what God “feels” is right, God is the one who DEFINES right and wrong.  God by nature is the very essence of “right.”  And come judgment day, he is the only judge whose determination of right and wrong counts!  God doesn’t do what he “feels” is right;  God does what he KNOWS to be right, even if we don’t understand how right it is.

As I watch the bombing of ISIL strongholds, I see a good example of the conflict in defining right and wrong.  The ISIL terrorists believe that they are championing “right” when they slaughter innocents in the name of Islam and become murderous martrys with suicide bombs.  They truly believe that killing anyone who doesn’t agree with their way of thinking is right.

Many others around the world believe it is right to try to kill and remove these anti-feminist violent radicals.  They champion the cause of destroying their strongholds and their efforts.  But both definitions of right cannot be true.  At least one is false, and neither must necessarily be true. 

So who decides which is right, or if right is another point of view?  As often happens in Christianity, in Islam there are differing interpretations of the Qu’ran’s teachings of right and wrong.  I believe there are clear definitions of right and wrong provided by the only One who conquered death and demonstrated his right to make that determination.  And those definitions are unrelated to mere feelings.

Even the best of us will fall short in our understanding of absolute right and wrong.  We will only know it for sure when the One who created right establishes it forever at the time of judgment.  I hope the U.S. is doing right by attempting to rid the world of the apparent evils of terrorism.  Perhaps we are going about it the “right” way, perhaps there are better ways.   I hope God cares as much about the awfulness of a sham marriage as he does the wrongness of divorce.  One day we will know.  Until then, we must do our best to seek and grow in our understanding of God’s will and direction in our lives and our world.

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