We live in a culture that hates judgment or condemnation towards any person or group of people based on objective standards of right and wrong. The solution we have come up with is to get rid of the idea that such standards exist. There is the implicit belief in Western culture that once this is accomplished we will then know the harmony we are seeking.
But this falls short in two ways:
1. No one can ever really jettison their moral standards.
I can remember a few conversations that start like this: “I don’t like Christianity because it implies judgment. It proclaims a fixed and absolute morality which I don’t believe in. Who am I to say to a person that their sexual preference or life choices are wrong? We each must decide right and wrong for ourselves,” friends say.
Then I want to ask if there are any examples of people doing things that are wrong regardless of what the person of their action. Hitler and the Holocaust come to mind. The person says that yes, the Holocaust was wrong. I ask why? Because it is. Hitler’s acts are unjustifiable even though he believed them to be moral. Then there really is an absolute moral standard. If you take a step back and look at it, people who say that are really advocating their own moral platform. They still have an idea of what is good for everybody and what is wrong for everybody, but that is the very thing they are seeking to avoid.
2. Getting rid of the idea of standards doesn’t actually lead to the harmony it is seeking.
The idea is that if everyone is free to determine their own morality and no one is free to condemn anyone else’s morality then that kind of tolerance will eliminate condemnation and judgment and create community and love. But the opposite is actually the case. That kind of tolerance will never lead to real love or real community, but only to politeness. The goal is to eliminate conflict, but the prescribed remedy is to ignore it. But if there is really an objective right and wrong, and none of us can escape the idea that there is, then this is not a loving act. Nor are the conflicts between people resolved by not addressing them, they only fester. The true route to what our culture wants lies through the very kind of judgment that it outlaws. To retain the concept of wrong is the only way to ever have the possibility of real community and real love. The first layer is mere manners, politeness. The second layer is conflict and resolution. The third layer is community. We live in a fallen world, often it takes passing through the second layer to come to the third layer. A harmony that is achieved through remaining only on the first layer is only superficial. A love that is reached through retaining the idea of wrong and overcoming it, resolving it, loving people despite profound disagreement, is real love.
What does this have to do with why I am a Christian?
The things we desire have their home in Christianity. Our culture believes that absolute moral standards inevitably lead to judgment, condemnation, oppression, and intolerance, but when you look steadily into the heart of Christianity you see that belief does not hold together. At the heart of Christianity lies a man who, holding uncompromisingly to absolutes, gave his life for his enemies. The picture of a God who is holy and yet loved his people so much as to die for them should enter the heart of every Christian and explode there. Christians ought to be more uncompromising in their adherence to what is good, true, and beautiful, and more loving, more sacrificial toward those who disagree, more gracious.
Christianity has the greater resources for providing the good things our culture wants. It says that all people were made in the image of God, they are his masterworks, they are cared for, provided for and loved by their maker. Because of this each individual has dignity, deserves respect, concern, and love regardless of distinctions society puts on them. It has greater resources to impel believers to sacrificial service for their fellows. This is the path to the love and community and harmony our culture wants.
In Western culture it is a chance preference, a moral taste which has no grounding, no foundation (because we do not believe in absolutes, so how could such a preference be absolutely true for all people?). In Christianity, however, it is an absolute which flows from the wounds of God made by his enemies for their sakes.