Moral Choices: What is Right and Wrong?
“You’ll love him, Mom,” Renee said on her visit home from her second year in college. “He’s so considerate, and smart, and really good looking.”
Terri smiled. “That’s great honey. Does he go to church with you?”
Renee shook her head. “Tony’s not into church and religious stuff. I’m okay with that.”
Terri frowned. “Renee, how can you be okay with that?”
“Mom,” huffed Renee, “just because Tony and I don’t believe like you and dad doesn’t make us bad.”
“Honey, no one is saying you’re bad,” Terri smiled, trying to temper the rising tension in the conversation. “When can we meet Tony?”
“We were thinking Christmas break. But don’t worry about fixing up the guest room. We’ll share my room.”
Terri’s eyes widened in shock. “Excuse me?”
“Really, Mom?” Renee tossed her long curls over her shoulders. “We’ve been having sex for months. We’re in love!”
Stunned, Terri dropped down onto the closest kitchen chair. “You go to college, Renee, and abandon your Christian values? Unbelievable.”
Does This Sound Like Your Parents?
It feels like they’re clueless, right? That their thinking is old-fashioned, perhaps even “intolerant,” if you want to throw out that increasingly popular cultural term.
What you want is your parent’s acceptance and understanding of your moral choices; what you deem to be right and wrong, which we’ll define as your “personal truth.” To understand why your parents are having a problem with this, we need to ask one question: “How does personal truth differ from God’s universal truth?”
Well, for starters, personal truth is subjective. If you believe this to be true, then you likely feel that every person gets to decide what is right and wrong for themselves. It’s this “truth,” then, that guides people in keeping some laws (never speeding, for example), but not others. Perhaps some of your friends think it’s okay to shoplift, or drink and drive, as long as they don’t get caught. Some people think it’s okay to cheat on their taxes, or even not to tell a waitress when she has forgotten to add a food item to their meal bill.
Subjective truth allows us to be selfish. Yet self-interest rarely encourages us to be generous, kind, patient, forgiving, gentle, loving, and selfless, like God wants. God’s truth, on the other hand, is an unchanging moral standard. God set this standard to give us the best life possible. It’s why God tells us to not steal, kill, or covet.
Perhaps, like Renee, you have decided that your personal truth trumps God’s universal truth. That your lifestyle choices are as right for you, as your parents’ are for them. That you can do whatever you want, as long as you don’t “hurt” anyone. If so, ask yourself how you came to believe this.
What is Influencing Your Thinking?
Are you aware of how much society is shaping your moral choices? One of the loudest messages we hear daily is that we need to be tolerant of personal truth, or be labeled “judgmental,” “intolerant,” or “bigoted” by those who don’t respect God’s truth. Ironically, many of the lifestyle choices that society encourages us to dabble in fill our lives with regret, pain, and disillusionment.
Specific to pre-marital sex, for example, the media tells us to enjoy casual sex, because it’s “fun.” But casual sex often leads to disease, unwanted pregnancy, shame, and relationship issues. Yes, God designed sex to be fun. But He also designed it to be sacred; to be shared by a married couple fully committed to one another.
Your parents may be trying really hard to communicate God’s universal truths to you, both for your protection and God’s blessing on your life. But if your parents are so focused on the dos and don’ts, their word choices and tone might be coming across to you as as uncaring and judgmental. Cut your parents some slack. It’s hard being a parent! Especially when they see you making choices that seem unwise to them. Remember, your parents have been where you are now. Their extra years of living have most likely given them wisdom that is worth your time listening to.
As we go along in this blog series we’ll be teaching your parents how to better communicate with you. So keep your heart open and try to hear their love and concern. Above all, stay respectful, so that you do your part to keep the conversation going. Discussion that is loving and respectful on both sides can be highly beneficial.
Think on This: Your To-Do This Week
This week, be attentive to the messaging society is directing at you in regards to personal truth. These messages could be in movies, television shows, magazines, or books. What are you being told about sex, sexual orientation, revenge, cheating, and even being respectful to your parents? What are you being taught about God and His place in our world and your life? Next, listen for messaging that reinforces God’s universal truth. Are those messages coming only from your church? Or also from your family and friends? What about your school? Lastly, count up the hours you spend watching and listening to these worldly messages compared to the time you spend reading God’s word. This homework might enlighten you some as to what is primarily shaping your view of “truth.”
This blog post has been adapted from the book The Beauty of Intolerance, by Josh and Sean McDowell. To purchase a copy of this helpful resource, please visit our Store page.