Christian Morality and ethical plurality
The Evangelical Outpost has a new symposium. Here is my comment on the topic.
To properly discuss the issue, we need to clarify just what we mean by ethical pluralism as there are many definitions floating around. Ethical pluralism is the view that as different people have different beliefs about the purpose of life and morality, that we should facilitate them living according to their own ethics insomuch as it does not infringe on someone else’s right to the same.
We live in a society that is pluralistic. That is, many different beliefs are tolerated and even expected to be respected and affirmed. A recent example of this in Australia is where 2 pastors have been convicted for "religious vilification" for talking about the negatives of Islam by quoting the Koran.
In terms of a Christian morality however, this view of ethical pluralism is not biblical. As Christians we are not allowed to lead another man to stumble (1Cor 8:13). We are in a society where we can influence laws, and as such we need to encourage laws to help others avoid the negative consequences of bad choices. We are expected to use whatever opportunities and abilities we are given (Matt 25:14-30), and in a democratic country, this includes voting and encouraging laws that produce righteousness (Prov 14:34). To do otherwise will lead our nations (and therefore all the people in it) towards collapse.
As Christian’s, we need to let our morality inform the sorts of laws we want to govern our nation. To do this, it is important to distinguish between laws that protect others from actions of individuals, such as Murder, Abortion, Theft and Slander; and laws that are their to encourage righteousness, such as encouraging the family unit, making divorce more difficult, removing the welfare state mentality, forcing fathers to pay welfare.
For one example, by making Abortion illegal we protect the innocent unborn, but we also provide an encouragement not to engage in sex outside of marriage. We stop people from avoiding the short-term consequences of their bad choices (albeit by stopping them murdering someone) and so encourage responsibility in that area. By modifying social security and forcing fathers to be accountable, we encourage the fathers to also be responsible for their choices.
To summarize, the simple response that “I think ‘X’ is immoral so I would never do it, but I won’t discourage anyone else from doing it” (I.e. Ethical pluralism) is not biblical. It does not show compassion and love for others and as we are in a position to influence the laws of our society, we need to take advantage of that God-given opportunity to help others.