The New Morality
Why, What, And What Saith The Scriptures?
In our first article we discussed why it is that the New Morality is a harvest reaped today from the seeds sown yesterday. Now, I would like to outline to you what the New Morality is, and why it is important to know something of the devious pitfalls it presents to Christian young people.
This is not just a subject to catch the eye, or a daring article out of place in Christian literature. Neither is it a subject that affects only non-Christian young people as some would have us believe. It is vitally important to every reader of these pages, young or old. Christian young people are growing up in a secular society saturated with illicit sex, perversion, pornography, moral degeneracy, and drug induced degradation. Parents who are raising their children in such an atmosphere have a tremendous responsibility before God to grasp the seriousness of the situation, and to teach their children in a positive way the Word of God as it pertains to sex, marriage, and the home. God’s Word asserts, “Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6).
Those with responsibility in our assemblies must no longer shirk this for they are accountable to the Lord for the teaching of the Scriptures on this subject, in a positive as well as a negative manner. The absence of such teaching in assembly life today invites disaster. We must begin to speak to the conscience and the need of young people regarding the whole man: spirit, soul, and body. The Apostle Paul’s concern for the Christians at Thessalonica was such that he prayed, “The very God of peace sanctify you wholly: and I pray God your whole spirit soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thess. 5:23). Not only must we teach this in our assemblies, but consistently, we must demonstrate in our lives that holy living which honours Christ and separates from the materialistic secular society that spawns the New Morality.
The New Morality, A New Interpretation
The term “The New Morality” is of fairly recent origin; it refers to a new interpretation of the Christian moral code that traditionally rests upon the Holy Scriptures. It is relevant, primarily, to sexual morality, but inevitably involves the total business and social ethics of man as well. It is new only because, as the Roman Catholic analysts of the new teaching affirm, it now has the seal of approval from a large segment of the clergy in the professing Christian Church, although it is as promiscuous in practice as anything before it.
The term “The New Morality” is the title of one of seven chapters in a book, Honest to God, by Bishop John Robinson of Woolwich, England (an acknowledged atheist), and which is produced in America by a denominational publishing house, the Westminster Press. The book has gained considerable notoriety, and has evoked comment both by the lay press and by religious magazines everywhere. It is the trade-mark of the large and growing group of men from many denominations of which Bishop Robinson is only one. These men are influential in their way and vocal to the extreme; furthermore, they have had an untoward impact upon the life and conduct of an increasing segment of young people in Britain and America. I cannot help but think in this connection of the words of Paul to the Romans: “Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same but have pleasure in them that do them” (Rom. 1:32).
The kernel of the ethic is this: a complete rejection of any divine sanction for any specific law, rule, or regulation relating to human behaviour as found in the Bible. The only valid test of the rightness or wrongness of any action, so it asserts, is whether or not it is inspired by love. Nothing of itself is wrong. Men have pushed the application of this idea to its limits, especially in regards to sexual morality. The quotations that I submit are sufficient to prove this:
“There are cases where sexual relations outside marriage are not wrong but glorifying to God” — Dean H. A. Williams, Trinity College.
“Christ nowhere suggested that marriage was the only place where sexual relations could take place” —Cannon Douglas Rhymes, Southwark Cathedral.
Bishop John Robinson rejects the Bible’s condemnation of homosexuality: “For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: and likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet” (Rom. 1:26-27). He rejects these strong words notwithstanding there are 2,000,000 overt homosexuals in Britain today who see the New Morality as their hope of ready acceptance into society. It is interesting to note that the Wolfenden report of 1957 recommending the legalizing of homosexuality in Britain under certain conditions, since the emergence of wide-spread Church support for the New Morality, has now become law.
Not Liberty But Licence
These men, and others, preach a new freedom from the moral law of God, and even try to deduce support from Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians for the advocating of moral licence. They quote the statement of Matthew 22:39 as subsequent and superior to the Mosaic Law: “The second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” Love is confused with lust, and ethics become situational. Thus it is permissable to steal to feed a family you love, and it is right to commit adultery, providing of course, that the partnership in this illicit act be fulfilled by the love involved.
Surely, you say, such influences would never reach the lives of our assembly young people! The writer can testify from his contacts through assembly life and medical practice that such influences are already affecting the lives and conduct of some of our young people to varying degrees.
Young person, take heed! “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Cor. 6:19-20).
In the final article of this series, we shall examine what the Scriptures teach young people about holy living and about overcoming the evil influences of this world. This teaching we shall illustrate from the experiences of three illustrious men of the Old Testament who stood in just such circumstances as have been described in our series.