Wednesday, 5 July 2017

On Christian morality

In our day Christian morality has become a contentious issue. Christians even differ among themselves about the nature of Christian morality. Somehow the very idea of morality has become blurred. In this essay, I reconsider the grounds for a Christian morality. I ask: Does it refer to timeless, objective values? and How does it differ from cultural values? I also discuss the moral revolution that characterises our time and the consequences for future generations. 

Over the past decades, the Western world has changed dramatically. The Christian values that were previously generally accepted in society are now in the cross-fire. Many people reject the Biblical grounds for societal values and believe that those values are unsuited for our day and age. As such the Bible – especially the Old Testament – has come under fire for the cruelty and God-sanctioned violence that are said to be found in its pages. In the view of these postmodern critics, we cannot take the Bible serious as divinely inspired – and its prescriptions for a Biblical lifestyle are therefore taken as mere old-fashioned ideas.

These are not easy issues for Christians to deal with. To understand the real nature of things is never easy – so much more in the realm of morality. To provide sensible answers would require a deeper look at morality – going right down to the very roots of the concept of "morality" itself. Such an inquiry should include penetrating questions such as: Are there really moral values that are timeless – and can objective morality be defended? In what sense can we discern between true moral values and mere cultural values – and is it even possible to untangle these? On what grounds can Christians expect society to follow their values – or at least accept them as valid?

In this essay, I engage with these and other questions regarding Christian morality. I show that we in the Western world are in the midst of a moral revolution that is changing the way that people think about all these things. A good understanding of the issues at hand may help in our search for the best strategy to go forward.

In an effort to present a coherent approach in which all the issues are handled in an integrated manner, I work (as always) from a Kantian approach. I, however, do not start from Kant's moral philosophy as one may expect. Instead, I commence with his epistemology (the study of knowledge claims). I previously showed how we may read Kant through a Gadamerian lens [1] – that is, how we may use Hans-Georg Gadamer's philosophy to enlarge the scope of Kantian thinking to accommodate all aspects of human experience in its embrace. In this essay, I show how we may apply this approach to our moral experience.

The idea of a moral narrative

Before we engage with the moral issues that govern contemporary debate, I would like to start on a more basic level with the issue of morality itself – especially insofar as philosophical thinking about morality is concerned. We have various models of morality – the most important among these are Aristotelian virtue ethics, Kant's normative ethics and Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill's Utilitarianism (there are also other non-hedonistic forms of Utilitarianism). One may ask: Which of these models is the better one?

Now, this is obviously not the right question to ask. The reason is that these different theoretical models of morality apply to different contexts. Although these models are all concerned with the issue of morality, each one is better suited in certain contexts than others. As we find in all human experience, including our moral experience, we can do no better than accepting that we have various such models. The issue of morality is, therefore, all but straightforward.

Let’s look at the contexts where these theories apply: Aristotle’s virtue ethics concern practical living in everyday contexts. Kant’s normative ethics prescribe rules that should govern society, such as his famous Categorical Imperative which reads (in its most basic formulation): “Act only according to that maxim [rule] whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law”. Each person should be treated as an end, not as a means. Utilitarian ethics, in turn, asks what is the best action that would maximise “utility” (well-being), especially insofar as the interests of society instead of the individual are concerned: to produce “the greatest amount of good for the greatest number”. It is very useful in contexts where we have to do with moral dilemmas.

One may ask: Can we place these models of morality within a broader framework which allows us to gain a better understanding of how these models relate to each other? This is where I want to bring in the Kantian approach to experience in general before engaging with questions about our moral experience. In Kant’s philosophy in his famous Critique of Pure Reason, experience involves both our concepts and our intuitions: our concepts are synthesised with our intuitions given in sensibility. As such one makes a judgment as to whether the data given in intuition (i.e. in the senses) is in accordance with the concept(s) applied to it. In general, this means that all viable theoretical models should be in agreement with the data.

We may have various such theoretical models that apply to different contexts, which are therefore all “true” in some sense. A good example is to be found in the natural sciences, where Newton’s theory applies very well to classical contexts, Einstein’s General Relativity applies to relativistic contexts and Quantum theory applies to quantum contexts. The question is whether we may apply these ideas to the field of morality where we also have various models which apply to different contexts.

This is where Gadamer’s insights come into play. What Gadamer proposed is that all experience may be regarded as an “event” of understanding. As such there is no reason to restrict experience to that of physical objects in nature (as in Kant’s approach); we may just as well include other “hermeneutical objects” within the scope of human experience. These may include any subject matter, that is, any issue that we have to judge in accordance with certain rules which govern that particular “mode of being”, which in turn may be envisioned as a “game” that embraces the human subject (this may involve any field of study).

Within the context of particular application, Gadamer speaks of “concretization”, that is, when we judge that some kind of particular belongs to some universal (rule) in that context, as he writes in Truth and Method: “Understanding, then, is a special case of applying something universal to a particular situation” (p310). When we understand, we find some kind of truth in that situation. This is consistent with the Kantian idea of “truth” (knowledge) – it only applies the Kantian idea more generally to our world.

Of special importance in Gadamer’s philosophy is the recognition of our cultural and historical conditionedness. All events of understanding take place within our a contextual conditionedness. We as humans do not have some kind of objective view of the world – we are embraced within the world and all our understanding is always contextual [1]. This is why all our theoretical models apply to certain contexts. This is also why we so often find that our subjectively plays an important role when we have to judge between such models – our own conditionedness determines which model we prefer. In this regard we may even speak of “narratives” – our understanding of “truth” is always a human endeavour, a way in which we as finite humans describe some contextual perspective in human language. This is especially true in those academic fields where the same subject matter allows for various interpretations [2].

I now suggest that the different moral theories described above be viewed in these terms. They all involve some kind of application in different moral contexts. Insofar as we may take all “events” of understanding as narratives – as human stories (interpretations) that are true for us – we may recast these moral theories as moral narratives which apply within certain contextual situations. The difference between moral and other narratives is that the first involves an “ought” insofar as human actions are concerned whereas the second involves an “is” insofar as we belong to our world. The first regulate our moral experience, the second our non-moral experience.

As is the case with all human experience, we always understand and apply issues of morality within our current cultural and historical context. Nobody has a truly “objective” moral view on the world – there is no such thing as absolute objective morality. Morality always finds expression within certain ethical contexts.

The idea of moral revolutions

When we have various narratives, one may find that these sometimes serve conflicting interests. As such one may have various interpretations of the same situation or insofar as morality is concerned: various moral narratives that compete for recognition. This is especially relevant when various groups in society try to promote their moral narrative at the cost of other such narratives. This may lead to open conflict. When one narrative which guides society’s thinking is replaced by another, we would have some kind of revolution. When one moral narrative replaces another we may speak of a moral revolution. To understand this better we may start from the idea of scientific revolutions viewed from a Kantian perspective.

Again, I want to start the discussion in this section with Kant’s philosophy. One may have a situation where a conceptual structure (theoretical model) which applies to one context is later complemented by another more sophisticated one which applies to more complex contexts. An example is Newton’s theory which applies to classical contexts and Einstein’s theories which apply to similar but more complex situations. When such models guide the scientific paradigm of the day, one may find a situation when the simpler model is replaced by the more sophisticated one as happened when Newton’s theory was replaced by that of Einstein. Thomas Kuhn referred to this as a scientific revolution.

In Kant’s philosophy, there are actually two ways in which we may judge particular situations. The one is through a “determinate judgment” – when we judge that a certain particular does indeed belong to some universal. This is the kind of judgment that applies in the case of the scientific theories of Newton and Einstein discussed above. In this case, some kind of theoretical model or rule (set of rules) serves as the norm in guiding our judgment whether something belongs in that category. In the framework of morality, this would be a rule that governs our actions. I call these “idealist” approaches: where some ideal (model/rule) is applied to some kind of context. Within moral theory, one may think of Kant’s Categorical Imperative.

The other kind of judgment is called “reflective judgment” [3]. Kant discussed this in some detail in the Critique of the Power of Judgment. This is when we are confronted with situations where we are not able to make a determinate judgment. Sometimes we may have some kind of hypothesis that governs our research, but we are not in a position to conclude that this is indeed true of the things that we are studying. In the natural sciences, this is applicable to quantum physics where Niels Bohr’s “quantum postulate” is such a guiding principle. This postulate is part of the so-called Copenhagen interpretation of quantum physics.

In general, one may suggest that the various interpretations of quantum theory fall into this category. Although quantum theory is confirmed (through determinate judgment), the way in which we should understand that theory is not. In this case, physicists are often not concerned about which interpretation is correct – they merely work in pragmatic ways to maximise the usefulness of their experiments for scientific purposes.

In the framework of morality, this may refer to some guiding principle for human actions in situations where simple moral principles such as “You shall not kill!” do not apply (war situations, in minimising but not eliminating human loss etc.). When we have very complex situations where we can do no better than to estimate what works in that context, we may use some kind of guiding principle. The utilitarian approach would typically be used in such contexts where the guiding principle is to “maximise” utility in establishing the greater good. Insofar as such approaches are grounded in pragmatic considerations, one may call them “realist” approaches [4,5].

When these narratives become widely accepted in society, be they idealist or realist in nature, they become the “rule of the land” – also on the moral front. There was a time when utilitarian principles guided societies all over the ancient world. The reason was simple: in contexts where one’s own or a group’s basic survival is at stake, you try to maximise your chances of survival. As such you try to promote the well-being of your group, often at the cost of other individuals and groups which constitute a radical “other”. In our day and age, Western society, for the most part, applies normative principles in accordance with Kant’s Categorical Imperative. As such all rules guiding society are such that they respect people's dignity – that everyone is treated as an end in itself (being of value as a human being) [6].

When we consider Biblical morality, one gets the distinct impression that the moral principles guiding the Old Testament are very different from those governing the New Testament. This is, in fact, true: the relation of old Israel with her neighbours was guided by utilitarian principles whereas the Church follows the “Golden Rule” that Jesus gave (Kant’s Categorical Imperative is merely a repackaging of this rule). One may even propose that the transition from the Old to the New Testament involved a moral revolution! To the extent that the Western world became Christianized it moved from a realist utilitarian morality to an idealist Christian morality.

File:Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn 079.jpg
Moses with the Tablets of the Law - Rembrandt Van Rijn (1606-1669)

A Christian morality

At this point, some readers may object and say that the same Biblical values govern(ed) both old Israel and the Church. Didn’t the Ten Commandments prefigure Christian values – and didn’t Jesus say in the Sermon on the Mount that those values would always be applicable? This is in fact true. When I say that the transition from the Old to the New Testament involved a moral revolution, I am not saying that certain values were not important throughout this transition. Rather, it is the way in which those values were applied in the context of the time that is very different.

When we want to understand the idea of “timeless” values within the context of a changing cultural world, we have to start from the basic question: What is “morals”? The word “morals” is derived from the Latin “moralis” which means “manner, character, proper behaviour” and to some extent from the Greek “nomos” meaning “law”. As such morals are the rules/laws for proper behaviour. The corresponding Greek word “ethos”, which means “character”, shows to what extent the Greeks connected good behaviour with good character (as we also find in Aristotelian ethics). In the Biblical context, we know that the Ten Commandments served as “moral laws” for the Israelites. In the New Testament, these are grouped together under the Golden Rule. This, however, does not mean that true morality is a set of rules. No, it is demonstrated in actions in accordance with divine love.

The way that these very same moral values – say “You shall not kill!” – are applied in society depends on the general approach to morality as determined by the context. In old Israel, where a utilitarian approach was followed, all the rules were interpreted within this general context. Since survival was the main issue, the individual was always subordinate to the absolute authority of the elders or king who made decisions with that in mind. Although those who belonged to the extended family of Israel were accorded equal treatment before the law, the idea of “human dignity” was not yet established and punishment was severe.

Those who belonged to other nations – especially enemy nations which might have endangered Israel’s survival – were treated as enemies who had no moral standing. Kill or be killed was the rule – to rape, plunder or kill those from enemy nations was the general practice in the ancient world. Since the Israelites regarded the earthly world as belonging to the kingdom of God (or realm of the gods), there was no contradiction in executing the judgment of God on His enemies. Killing people in accordance with divine judgment was viewed on the same level as God Himself judging them for their sins (see [7] for a more detailed discussion of the problem of “divine cruelty” in the Old Testament).

Critics often mention incidents of “divine cruelty” in the Old Testament to discredit the Bible as a source of divine revelation. Some think that old Israel should have acted in accordance with our moral principles – which these critics think have universal application. They expect that God should somehow have spoken to Israel in a way that would have been in radical conflict with their deep-seated culturally-conditioned values – and expect that they would have been able to make sense of that! They obviously would not have made sense of our values in the same way that we cannot make sense of theirs.

The problem is that we are ourselves culturally-conditioned and it is impossible for us to understand those things. The philosopher Martin Heidegger (1889-1976) spoke of our “thrownness” in this regard – we are irrevocably blinded by our own cultural conditionedness. Think of it: only thirty years ago it was generally accepted practice in our society that those guilty of certain misdeeds were whipped with up to forty lashes! In my view, the cruelty in the Bible is actually a strong indicator that it originated in exactly the contexts mentioned.

But let us move to New Testament values. What is unique to the New Testament is the idea that humans have special value in the eyes of God. God sent his son Jesus Christ to die for our sins (to state it simply; Joh. 3:16) because of His love for us. In the New Testament era, the idea of human dignity transformed the way that we regard people in general – every single person is regarded as having such dignity and should be treated as such with respect. Christian communities are to treat even their enemies in accordance with God’s love. Now, the command: “You shall not kill!” becomes a general rule that applies to all humans (some Christians would even say: to all circumstances).

When we now compare the Old and New Testament contexts, it is immediately clear that, although the very same moral principles applied/apply, the way in which they were/are applied are very different. Although one may accept that there are certain “archetypal moral values” such as “You shall not kill!”, these are always realised in some concrete context in accordance with some kind of overall moral approach, be it a utilitarian one or in accordance with the Golden Rule. One can therefore not speak in any realistic manner of “objective morality” as something that applies to all contexts in the same way! Even in the New Testament era, the application of the Golden Rule may lead to different outcomes since Christians have different ways of interpreting situations.

So, what is the essence of morality? Is it just some archetypal values? Of particular interest in this regard is the fact that we do not find an “ought” in the animal kingdom – it just does not make sense! No animal ought to do anything. This means that morality is something that only concerns humans. Why would that be? The answer is simple: all morality – even that which involves utilitarian decisions – is grounded in the idea of human dignity. We are special in some way. The whole Christian message centres around this very basic idea: humans have special value – in the eyes of God.

How would one explain this special value that we instinctively know that all humans beings have? In the Christian view, humans are different from animals in that they are made in the “image of God”, that is, that they have spirits which animals do not have. As such humans belong to the domain where the competing principles of good and evil always require some “choice” [8, 9]. Humans can decide whether to do or not to do what is good in accordance with moral principles. Actually, human dignity has as its exact counterpart the ability of human choice – since we have dignity we also have the ability to live in accordance with that dignity and to treat other people in accordance with their dignity.

A practical outflow is that our whole criminal justice system operates on the basis of human choice. One may have all sorts of philosophical ideas about these things, but the bottom line is that the whole structure of any stable society is grounded on these principles. The Christian principles of human dignity and human choice are the basis of societal structure.

Nature and natural law

There is, however, one outstanding issue. There are certain moral values that are seemingly in contrast with Biblical prescriptions but which are not in conflict with human dignity. Take, for example, the Biblical prescriptions for marriage. Although the Bible seems to insist on heterosexual marriage (see below), one may argue that homosexual marriage is also in line with human dignity. Does this mean that such values are merely cultural and are not true moral values? And: How would we be able to distinguish between these two kinds of values?

According to the Bible, God revealed Himself not only in Scripture but also through nature. St. Paul wrote a long argument in support of this in his Letter to the Romans, chapter 1:18-32. As such Christians always had a teleological view of nature as revealing not only the Creator God’s design as something beautiful but also his plan/goal for mankind. As such Scripture and nature complement each other – both reveal God’s prescribed order for human living.

When St. Paul discusses relations between the same gender, he refers to affections – both of women and men with others of the same gender – in its “natural use” as well as “that which is against nature” (Rom. 1:26, 27). What does he mean by this? In the context of the whole section which focuses on God revealing His purpose in nature, there cannot be any doubt that he refers to the fact that the natural use of sexuality has a purpose: to produce children. This does not mean that the “natural use” of sexuality excludes enjoyment of sex, but rather that God’s order is that it should be confined to the context of heterosexual marriage.

When one excepts that this is the God-ordained order of things, then same-gender sexual relationships, which are exactly the inverse of heterosexual relationships, can only be viewed as built upon another basis, which is also found in nature, but which is always rejected in the New Testament as being in conflict with living through the Spirit, namely carnal “lust” or carnal desires (Rom. 1:27). In St. Paul’s analysis such “love” is not “natural affection”, but rather “vile affection” (Rom. 1:26, 31). Even when this kind of sexuality is brought within the framework of the marriage – taken as a Christian kind of bond between two people – it would fall outside the order that God revealed in nature. As such natural law and nature – i.e. natural (carnal) desires – stand forever in conflict with each other.

One can now easily see how cultural values differ from moral values – all true moral values flow from the basic principles of natural law – which include human dignity as a basic moral value underlying all moral law – whereas cultural values belong to certain cultural contexts. In this regard St. Paul sometimes mentions that he gives his opinion in these matters but that they are not to be taken as divine commands (1 Cor. 7:12). The only true moral values are those in accordance with natural law as elucidated by Scripture – all other values reflect the ethics of human endeavour.

The fact that St. Paul calls upon natural law when defending the exclusivity of the Christian marriage as being between one man and one woman – which is consistent with the earliest archetype of Adam and Eve – shows that he regarded it as an important point of departure in establishing Christian morality [10]. As such Christian morality could be contrasted with all other kinds of morality which humans may want to implement in accordance with their own ideas. Christian morality is obviously not the only kind of morality available to humans. So, why should we live in accordance with Christian morality? To live in accordance with Christian morality is in the final instance a choice. It is a choice to live in accordance with God’s purpose for our lives. 

Critics have brought various kinds of objections against Christian morality. Some have tried to reinterpret Scripture in such a way that gay marriage is also allowed. Postmodernist hermeneutics allows for that since it does not treat the Biblical text with respect – the dignity of the authors in saying things is not respected (only that of the contemporary reader is of any real consequence) [11]. They use all sorts of deconstructionist methods to argue either that those views are not valid for our day and age or that the Biblical support for heterosexual marriage is not necessarily against gay marriage. Others argue that science – that is, true natural “laws” – supports the idea that a gay identity is somehow determined by genetic or physiological conditions. Again, the problem is that the scientific evidence is open to interpretation which allows for other readings of the facts.

Of particular importance to our discussion is the fact that Western society has embraced alternative lifestyles on an equal footing with the Christian marriage [12]. In our day the essential word is “choice”. And one may ask: Is choice in moral matters not exactly in line with the essence of morality? To choose what is right for you (maximising human freedom) and not to discriminate between people on any basis? This also seems to be in line with another basic human value: love. In this regard, the new rule of the game is “human rights”. All have the right to equal treatment and to order their private lives in a manner that they see fit. As this stands, it implies a balanced treatment of moral narratives on an equal footing in society.

Although this may seem fine – even for many Christians – there is one problem that is going to become more accentuated as the conflict between moral views grows. This is that human rights do not constitute a singular criterium in the same way as human dignity (as a basic value). As such human rights allow for subjective interpretations regarding the equality of such rights. When a conflict between rights arose, the justice system must decide which is more fundamental. In this way, the supreme courts become the final arbiter regulating morality, which is the reason why there is such an enormous struggle in the US regarding appointments to the Supreme Court – judges from a Democratic Party background, in general, follow a more pragmatic approach in making judgments. They take contemporary societal perceptions into account. As such this comes down to a utilitarian approach – determining which choice is for the greater good of the majority [13].

We are actually in the midst of a moral revolution in the Western world. All gloves are off and LGBT activists ("social justice warriors") lead a drive to secure their rights’ superior recognition. The real danger is that this may eventually lead to a situation where this infringes on the religious rights of Christians – which they may experience as discriminatory. As such it may not produce a neutral situation where all are respected, but rather where some are persecuted [14].

In my view, this moral revolution is going to lead to the persecution of Christians in the Western world in exactly the same way that many revolutions and counter-revolutions led to the persecution of opponents. The reason why this is likely to happen is that postmodern values are grounded in a postmodern ideology which has no mercy in establishing its dominance. From a philosophical angle, it would be ironic when postmodernism – which is supposed to criticise power and embrace the other – enthrones a new elite as the priests of a new moral order who persecute that other.


In this essay, I give a short overview of issues concerning morality. Morality is one of the most difficult things to write about. Due to the psychological conditioning of our times, people are often afraid to say what they think in this regard! Sometimes persons are viciously attacked for their views – and it is not difficult to see on whose side the establishment media is. Although it is not easy to obtain a clear view as to what Christian morality means and how all the current moral issues relate to the larger moral picture, we should make an effort to always gain a better understanding.

I show that we can always formulate various possible moral narratives which are applicable to different contexts. Some narratives – such as the Christian and postmodern ones – are in direct conflict with each other. They view the same things very differently. Some of the issues, for example, those concerning a gay lifestyle and identity, are complicated. One may, however, assert that the essential feature of human morality is choice. In the end, we have to say that our identity is never given, it is always something that we are able to rework and change. Even in the face of great challenges on many levels, we are able to establish an identity of our own choice [15]. In the Christian view, there are no limits to what God can do in helping us in this process [16].

I argue that we are in the midst of a moral revolution in the Western world. Most people are aware that things are changing and that the outcome may have serious consequences for their lives. All revolutions are in the end about power – to overthrow the current order and to gain power. This may have very bad consequences for Christians over the long term. Still, many sit on the fence. Many Christians think that promoting “love” cannot be a bad thing. The problem is that the line between love and hate is sometimes much closer than one thinks. 

[2] We find this even in the natural sciences where various interpretations of quantum physics are possible. The kind of interpretation that one prefers is determined by your own conditionedness, that is, your particular cultural and scholarly education (and even your particular psychology!).
[3] Gadamer does not distinguish between these two kinds of judgment. In his view, these cannot be sufficiently distinguished. In my view, they serve an important purpose in allowing us to distinguish between idealist and realist (pragmatic) approaches in all understanding.
[4] In international politics we may regard the ideal of a rule-based world as an expression of an idealist approach whereas the realist guiding principle of geopolitics serves governments well in trying to maximise their power in certain geographical contexts. These two approaches were in conflict during President Obama’s second term when he tried to assert a rule-based international order whereas President Putin followed a realist geopolitical approach. These came into conflict insofar as Crimea and Syria were concerned. Obama made the mistake of thinking that others are somehow constrained to follow the idealist approach propagated by the West - and in the process, the West lost significant ground to Russian, Iranian, Chinese and other interests. 
These two approaches may also govern domestic politics within a society where groups adhering to them may come in conflict in the context of political revolutions and counter-revolutions such as those seen during the Arab Spring.
[5] Although I take Kantian morality as normative and Utilitarianism as pragmatic, this just concerns the manner of application. Utilitarianism is actually also normative – but I read this in the sense of “guiding principle”, not as a “categorical” rule.
[6] Even in our day and age there are societies that primarily use a utilitarian approach to morality. We find it especially in autocracies, where the application of all moral principles is subject to the survival of the group which is in power. In such cases, those with opposing views are regarded as a radical other and are not accorded the same moral value than those from the ruling clan.
How would one explain the Old Testament practice of "the ban"? I would suggest that this is an example of a moral dilemma being resolved through the principle of utilitarian ethics. The use of the "ban" was directly related to Israel's survival, not merely as a nation but especially the survival of the faith in Yahweh - and was necessary to ensure that the Messiah would be born. The reason for the ban was, in my view, to prevent the worship of other gods eventually leading to the extinction of the true faith in God. We find situations in Israel's history when that nearly happened and when the House of David (from which the Messiah was to be born) nearly became extinct (2 Chron. 11). (A good outcome seems to have been very sensitive to the initial conditions, as we find in the "butterfly effect"). The ban was practised in the context of war and must be understood as an expression of the judgment of a sovereign God over sin (exactly as we find regarding his final judgment). The ban belongs to the cultural milieu of the time where survival often led to the killing and the wiping out of whole peoples. 
One may ask: Was there no alternative? Is God not great enough to overcome such dilemmas in another way? In my view, God has restricted the expression of his power when he created the cosmos and this can be seen in the evil being done in history. When Jesus as the Word of God became a man (in the Christian view), his divine nature was also curtailed in some ways (his omnipotence, his omniscience). We also see that when Jesus endured the cross to bring about an eternal salvation. In my view, God has restricted himself in allowing the natural flow of things since the creation in his battle with Satan. As such, the ban belongs to a cosmic "chess game" in which the rules have been fixed. God can overturn the table but he chooses not to do that.
The main problem is that we cannot in any way truly understand ancient morality for the simple reason that we are culturally conditioned within our own time. This is expressed by the philosophers Martin Heidegger with his concept of thrownness and Thomas Kuhn with his idea of paradigms. The philosopher Immanuel Kant (in his antinomies) have shown that one may have conflicting settings which could both believe themselves to be right in a final sense. This is due to the restricted nature of our human understanding [17]. We can never understand the morality of the ancients and when we think that they should have kept our values (God should have intervened in this way!) is to think in terms of some kind of "objective" morality which does not exist. 
[8] In Kantian philosophy the human soul belongs to the noumenal realm governed by spontaneity – which is what makes the freedom to choose possible. As such the soul does not belong to this material world – it belongs to another world which Kant also describes as the world of our future hope. I argued elsewhere that the noumenal realm is merely a new conceptualization of the old idea of a spiritual world (or spirit world) [18]. As such our soul somehow includes an eternal spiritual aspect (the human spirit) – which would be what gives humans special value above animals and which also enables them (at the same time) to make free choices (since it belongs to the realm of freedom). Christian morality includes human dignity as well as the human choice to live in accordance with the moral law.
[9] Some critics think that a good God who exists but do nothing while humans do evil is a contradiction in terms. If He is almighty (i.e. God), why does He not do away with all evil? The problem here is with the constrained nature of our human understanding. These critics have to prove that this is indeed a true dichotomy and not a false one, which they can obviously not do. In my view, it is, in fact, a false dichotomy. A good God may exist along with evil in the world just as spontaneity and determinism co-exist in our world (as we know is the case since the discovery of quantum physics).
[10] One may ask: If gay marriage between two consenting adults is consistent with our human dignity, why should one accept a further narrowing of decent marriage practice in accordance of St. Paul's interpretation of natural law to only include heterosexual relations - especially since one may read natural law as making relations between people of the same gender possible in the first place? At this point, the issue of Biblical authority enters the discussion. Christians ascribe authority to Biblical authors such as St. Paul on the grounds that the Bible is divinely inspired. As such it reveals God's Will for us.
Biblical Criticism, which rejects the idea of the divine inspiration of Scripture, at the same time rejects the authority of the Bible in such matters. Traditional Christianity, which asserts the divine inspiration of Scripture, takes St. Paul's writing as authoritative. Insofar as Biblical Criticism has undermined traditional Biblical morality within the context of the current moral revolution, one is reminded of the story of Red Riding Hood and the wolf.
[12] There was a lot of discussions recently about so-called “fake news” and a “post-truth” world. In the US, the establishment media and the Trump administration accuse each other of producing a false presentation of things. Although there are obviously certain “facts” of the matter, some things are not so clear-cut and intentions are also important. News always involves an element of interpretation. Over the last few decades, the establishment media has actually become biased in a very subtle way, not insofar as basic news is concerned, but in enforcing a certain worldview which is much more in line with LBGT rights than Christian values. This means that they are not a neutral player in society. They influence people – one may speak of the mind-forming media. As such they stand in exact opposition to the Trump administration’s presumed Christian viewpoint. One may even suggest that the fight about the interpretation of many other issues, in the end, serves to promote a particular moral view of the world.
[13] When these dangers are recognised, the leaders of society should work together to find a golden middle way. Although this may not be easy and everybody would not be happy in the end, it may result in all religious and moral views being respected in society. I would recommend an approach which does not bring these positions into conflict with each other as we find in the US, but where harmony is established for the greater good and prosperity of all.
[14] Any morality based on animal altruism must explain on what principle the "other", regarded as the enemy (as a danger to the survival of the herd), would be safe in their moral world. When human dignity (which is primarily a Christian concept based on the uniqueness of humans in differentiation with animals) is dropped as guiding principle, it is difficult to see what would stop animal morality (eliminating the "other"). Even "human rights" are (at least to some extent) based on human dignity. 
In an unChristian world, one may foresee situations where "human rights" might not be strong enough to protect the "other" since these rights have a certain arbitrarity to them insofar as they might under certain circumstances be suspended (when competing rights are infringed upon). One may think of situations where the "other" lose their rights due to perceived transgressions based on majority views (for example, when alternative views are rejected in emotionally loaded terms such as "hate crimes"). In that case, "human rights" would become a repressive measure within a utilitarian system (see [6]).
[15] Atheism and gay activists collide when they assert that our lives are somehow mechanistically determined.
[16] There are many testimonies of ex-gays who embraced Christian morality. See the dvd "Such were some of you" (1 Cor. 6:11).
[17] Science and our restricted human understanding

Author: Dr Willie Mc Loud (Ref.

The author is a scientist and philosopher (PhD in Physics, MA in Philosophy). He writes on issues of religion, philosophy and science.