By What Standard Do We Judge?

It seems, in today’s media saturated society, we are faced with more situations than ever that demand discernment on questions of right and wrong.  The problem is this: by what standard do we judge the actions and opinions of ourselves and others? Ultimately, standards (rules of right and wrong) are either imposed on us by an outside entity, whom I shall call God, or they evolve over time and through experience and are, therefore, transient.

If standards evolved without the intervention of any kind of higher power (following the evolutionary “survival of the fittest” motif), then how can anyone point to anyone else and say “She or he is doing it wrong!”? Standards, in this model, are as fleeting and changeable as styles in clothing, hair, and shoes. What’s fashionable today will be looked upon with distain tomorrow. And ponder this…if evolution is true, and the “kill or be killed” mechanism is indeed how the evolution of life can be explained, then how can any evolutionist condemn anything as wrong in a moral code sort of way? It seems to me that evolutionists ought to worship murder because, in their thinking, murder made us what we are today!

If standards are imposed by God, then we had better quit giving opinions and, instead, work hard to find out the details of God’s expectations. Period. And we need to understand that God is not held to some higher standard that exists outside of Himself…He IS the standard.  In other words, love, gravity, fairness, and the speed of light were all designed by God.  They didn’t pre-exist and now God has to adjust Himself to them. The universe is under God’s jurisdiction, and He is the sole determiner of the plumb line to which we need to adjust our thinking and actions. We can accept His standards, we can reject His standards, but we can’t change them.

I’m sold out on the belief that God is the ultimate creator and determiner of all things. He has graciously revealed to us His ways through the general revelation we receive by observing His creation and, specifically, through Scripture. Psalm 19 expresses this beautifully:

The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words,
whose voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.
In them he has set a tent for the sun,
which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber,
and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy.
Its rising is from the end of the heavens,
and its circuit to the end of them,
and there is nothing hidden from its heat.

The law of the LORD is perfect,
reviving the soul;
the testimony of the LORD is sure,
making wise the simple;
the precepts of the LORD are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the LORD is pure,
enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the LORD is clean,
enduring forever;
the rules of the LORD are true,
and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold,
even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey
and drippings of the honeycomb.
Moreover, by them is your servant warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.

Who can discern his errors?
Declare me innocent from hidden faults.
Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins;
let them not have dominion over me!
Then I shall be blameless,
and innocent of great transgression.
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable in your sight,
O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.

~ Psalm 19 ESV

The psalmist, David, observes that God generally reveals Himself in creation, but he specifically reveals Himself in His law. In the last lines David asks God for mercy, and he asks God to help him line up with God’s standards. David doesn’t give excuses, and He doesn’t say “God made me this way, so my sins are not my fault.” Nor does he complain about God’s rules being too hard to discern.  It’s simply an excuse to claim that His revealed moral code is contradictory or veiled.

Our culture has made ideas like tolerance, fairness, and equality our gods. If people look at the God revealed in scripture and foolishly interpret His ways as being intolerant, unfair, and preferential of some people over others, they reject Him as God. They, in effect, make their own opinions their gods.

May the eternal, omniscient God have mercy on us all! May He grant us the grace to give up our arrogance and, instead, align ourselves with His truths.

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