In Defense of "Conventional Morality"

Wallace H. Little
Marshall, Texas

Spewing from all outlets of the information media today is a steady stream of thinly disguised moral filth. It is often justified by claims that "conventional morality" is out and only observed by those who are hopelessly out of date. One time it is the "God is dead" philosophy; another, "situation ethics"; a third says "Do your own thing as long as you don't hurt anyone else"; yet another discusses the ills of our sin sick society as if the symptoms were the basic causes. The accent is on the "PLAYBOY WORLD." If weight of this type of evidence was the determining factor, I would long ago have given up. However, I for one do not believe "conventional morality" is even dying, much less dead, and I believe it should be defended.

If anyone is going to defend something, he needs to define it. One of the big problems in today's discussions is the absence of any clear-cut definitions. Sometimes "conventional morality" is equated with "Victorian taboos" or "Puritanical repression." (While both had their bad points, they also had some 'Pretty good things going for them too.) Occasionally a writer or speaker will mean the Judeo-Christian concept of Morality.

I define "conventional morality" as that morality taught in the Bible, codified for the Old Testament Jews in the Decalogue and in the New Testament for all people for all times in the teaching of Christ and His apostles. After nailing the former to the cross (Colossians 2:14) Christ made the principles of human conduct contained therein even more binding by outlawing the mental assent. Under the earlier law only the actual act itself was wrong. Concerning God's law dealing with morality, we soon learn that it has always been anything but conventional. Read the comments of Paul the apostle on the behavior of the Gentiles in Romans 1: 18-32. Keep in mind that a person's reception of a moral code says nothing about its validity. This is determined by its source and the authority with which it is dispensed. Since all Scripture is given by inspiration of God (2 Timothy 3:16) and is sufficient to furnish a man unto every good work (verse 17), if we accept the Bible at all we have no choice but to accept the moral code it imposes as both valid and authoritative.

Considering some of the tripe which passes as serious thought, I cannot help doubt either the sincerity or the intelligence of those expressing it. A majority of those deriding "conventional morality" seem to be opposing God's very restrictive commandment against adultery, or are merely examples of the mindless rebellion against anything which constitutes authority. Man from Eden has not enjoyed the idea of willing submission of himself to the person of another unless he personally approves. He has shown his rebellion in many forms. One is the violation of God's moral laws. (Some speak of "breaking God's laws" but in reality no one does this: they are simply broken in their rebellion against them. Laws of nature come from God, too. Try stepping off the roof of a ten-story building and see who breaks and who is broken.) Both history and the Bible tell us plainly that man will be submissive to something or someone outside of himself. It is part of our nature. Far better it be to the God of heaven through His "conventional morality" than to any of the agencies of Satan. And it will be to one or the other (Matthew 12:30).

Putting aside the groundless complaints of today's rebels, no sound objection can be brought against the morality of the New Testament. (Example: Matthew 5:26, 27 "Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: but I say unto you, that whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.") Let me summarize some of the good of "conventional morality":

1. God commanded it, and God never commanded anything that was not for our good.

2. Every civilization for which historical records exist has prospered only so long as it observed "conventional morality" and was destroyed when this was ignored.

3. "Conventional morality" under girds the family, the basic unit of society. When the sanctity of marriage goes, disruption of society soon follows. The hypocrisy of some who, while teaching this, also violate it does not mitigate against its truth--the abuse of a thing never invalidates the principle involved. My leprosy does not materially improve your cancer.

4. All societies must be regulated or chaos results. Regulation must come from a source outside of and higher than those governed. If man governs by his appetites, he will accommodate his laws to his lusts. The end-product is the guy with the biggest muscle or most guns enjoys (Hedonism) ruling you.

5. The greatest degree of earthly happiness for mankind has always been given those who observe the highest level of "conventional morality." This should be obvious for the God Who created us surely knows what principles we need to live by in order to be happy.

6. Adherence to "conventional morality" would cure two of our greatest existing social ills: children born out of wedlock (with all of its attendant evils) and venereal disease.

7. All that is good and right in the world, all the proper conduct of one person or one people to another, all the best of human relationships have resulted from obedience to the requirements of "conventional morality," The single, most expressive, comprehensive and concise ethical statement ever made is recorded in Matthew 7:12, "Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets." We call our shortened paraphrase, "The golden rule." Until men can surpass God in His wisdom, I will stick with this.

To those who chafe at the restrictions of "conventional morality" I suggest:

First - think through what you are advocating (be honest, don't try to adjust your logic to accommodate your personal desires and fleshly appetites).

Second - realize the ultimate consequence of your position. Are you willing, personally, to accept what this implies? Remember, somewhere there is another with a bigger muscle or more guns. What then?

Third - answer the question, "Do you really object to 'conventional morality' or do you object to authority in general, and express it in this manner?"

Fourth - and finally, how are you going to give an answer to the God Who created you when you stand before Him in judgment? And you will;-all will (Hebrews 9:27).

Those who desire 'to violate God's "conventional morality" will continue to do so, offering various excuses by way of rationalization. None will change God's law. With the attitude of "the devil take 'em" (and he will), they will plunge as low as their appetites will drag them. But these need not ask for my approval or expect my silence in the face of their rebellion. God gave me, and all mankind a command to oppose such, "Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them" (Eph. 5: 11), and this is exactly what I intend to continue doing.

When we forsake "conventional morality" we forsake God Himself. Do we honestly believe we can continue in this rebellion, and still possess all the blessings of this life, which blessings as with all good things, come from this same God? Wake up America, before it is everlastingly too late! Most important, Christian, wake up! - P.O. Box 1306

TRUTH MAGAZINE, XV: 6, pp. 8-9
December 10, 1970