Why Morality Matters: Is There a Real Right and Wrong?

Moral relativism was a hot topic to debate in both the nineteenth and twentieth centuries but has since earned itself a place among today’s fashionable, intellectual presuppositions. Although popular today, moral subjectivity is itself a slough of ethical absurdities—absurdities we will do our due diligence to dismiss as falsehood. 

Nietzsche and Moral Relativism 

The emergence of moral relativism is frequently attributed to Friedrich Nietzsche, the nineteenth-century German philosopher. In his work The Gay Science, Nietzsche tells the story of a “Madman,” who proclaims the following: 

“Whither is God? We have killed him—you and I. All of us are his murderers. But how did we do this? Whither are we moving? Are we not plunging continually? Is there still any up or down? Are we not straying, as through an infinite nothing?” – Friedrich Nietzsche

What does this mean exactly? 

Nietzsche believed it was necessary for Enlightenment-era rationality to usher the Judeo-Christian value system off her throne, although he warned against the implications of such an immediate cultural shift: without clear distinctions between right and wrong, we become the “Madman,” helplessly questioning which way is up and which way is down. It was the nihilistic, global “madness” of the twentieth-century that Nietzsche single-handedly predicted, and it is the remnants of that very philosophical “madness” we are left to fight today. 

The Dangers of Moral Relativism

The Nietzschean argument against objective morality is admittedly more complicated than we have time for, but it is built upon the presupposition that morality is dependent upon our environment and that there is no objective right and wrong. Although this sentiment is popular in our postmodern day, it presents us with severe ethical issues. 

If universal right and wrong do not exist, we cannot say that anything is actually, objectively wrong. And if morality is determined by someone’s environment, and not a universal standard, then we cannot assert that the mass killing of millions of Jews, Poles, and Slaves—to name a few groups, there are many others—was wrong. All the moral relativist can claim is that he has a feeling that Nazism was wrong, based on what his specific environment has taught him. He is not saying anything about the object, just his feelings. 

In The Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle claims that what distinguishes humans from animals is our capacity for reason—and reason is the ability to say something about something, often based on previous information. The point is this: if we are only talking about feelings and not the objective reality of something, we effectively reduce ourselves to animals, devoid of the very thing that makes us inherently unique. 

The logic of moral relativism leads to absurdity. So, what really governs our morality? 

What is the Moral Law? 

Let’s say you and a friend are at a restaurant together, arguing over the concept of morality. Your friend believes there is no real right and wrong, while you beg to differ. In a moment of passion, you take his drink and finish it off quickly. He exclaims “Hey, what are you doing that for? That’s my drink! How would you like it if I did the same to you?” and you slyly reply “Well, was that wrong?” 

Although playful, the concept here is exhibited clearly: any amount of quarreling assumes a standard of correct behavior. Your friend is not only saying your behavior happens to not please him, but saying what you ought to do. Argument means trying to prove the other person is wrong, and there would be no point in arguing unless a real standard of right and wrong exists. This is what we call the Moral Law, and if it does not exist there is no sense in quarreling; just as there is no sense in saying that slavery was actually wrong because the measuring stick of right and wrong would not exist. 

Isn’t the Moral Law just Culture? 

Many have proposed that a universal Moral Law is unsound, due to the fact different cultures have different moralities. Moral variation surely exists on a micro-level, but not on a macro-level. In other words, there are small differences in morality between cultures, but nothing close to an absolute difference. What would a total difference in morality look like? Consider the following from Mere Christianity

“Think of a county where people were admired for running away in battle, or where a man felt proud for double-crossing all the people who have been kindest to him… Men have differed as regards to what people you ought to be unselfish to—whether it was only your own family, or your fellow countrymen, or everyone. But selfishness has never been admired… You might as well imagine a country where two and two made five.” – C.S. Lewis

Isn’t the Moral Law just Herd Instinct? 

Another objection to the Moral Law is that real, correct behavior is an instinct, something that has been developed at the expense of our surroundings. Yet, an instinctual desire is far different from the knowledge that you ought to do something, whether you like it or not. 

Consider the scenario of a drowning man. Two instincts will be immediately felt: one to help the drowning man, and the other to flee the scene. The first is identified as our herd instinct, the desire to help, which is learned through education. While the other is identified as the instinct of self-preservation. In this scenario, the Moral Law is what tells us what we ought to do, and its job is to discern between instincts. This is why the most intense desire—the desire for self-preservation—is often not acted upon, given that the Moral Law directs us otherwise. 

Why is the Moral Law Important? 

See, without the Moral Law, we would not feel the restraint that withholds us from falling into our most intense, usually immediate instincts. And, given there is a universal standard of right and wrong, we may assert this standard is directed by something or someone that lies beyond the limitations of humanity, as the existence of such a standard would not reasonably be a product of naturalistic chance. 

Another question we have to ask ourselves is this: how could a naturalistic or cosmic force—the forces that belong to popular philosophy today—direct behavior if that very force does not have a mind? In order to create and enforce a standard of right and wrong, the ability to reason must be utilized, because, without reason, this standard would not be philosophically sensible, nor moderately coherent. Therefore, it is logical to conclude that objective morality has a divine, reasonable Giver. Consider the following: 

They (the Gentiles) show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness.” – Romans 2:15

Paul makes the case that God is the author of the Moral Law, the one who has written right and wrong on our hearts. This is no trivial point, for it means that adhering to a universal standard of behavior not only carries legal, temporal consequences, but it also carries eternal consequences. In other words, when we decide to do something that violates the Moral Law, we are not only acting incorrectly, but offending the God who cares for our correct behavior. This is why objective, right behavior matters: because God is the author of that very behavior Himself. Without a universal standard of right and wrong, no action can be actually right or wrong, and we might as well dismiss the idea of God altogether.  

Whole-Life Pro-Life

Herbie Newell is a graduate of Samford University and has served for eleven years as the Director of Lifeline Children’s Services, which is a global and domestic adoption agency.  In January of 2020, he released Image Bearers: Shifting from Pro-Birth to Pro-Life, which presents a challenge to the Church and a call-to-care for people of all ages, races, and circumstances.  

Most of the time we hear the terms pro-life and pro-choice associated with political candidates and parties.  It is something that determines how a lot of evangelicals vote, but this is a much more vast and deep and urgent issue than I personally, and we as a culture treat it. As a Christian, I believe life begins in the womb and is indescribably valuable. When I hear many pro-choice speakers arguing that because of the broken adoption and foster care centers, disaster would strike if abortion was outlawed, I can’t help but see where the church has failed. These are valid thoughts, and I can see where the Church has been very outspoken about being pro-birth but has failed to care for the parents in these very difficult situations.

To prove the babies for whom we are fighting will be loved if the mom chooses life, we need to care for orphans well, care for people with special needs, and care for foster children and families. This is where Lifeline steps in. Lifeline sets an example of holistic support for life through shepherding families through adoption, while also providing resources for those in the foster care system and support for parents who would like to regain custody of their children.  

James 1:27 says, 

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

As Christians, we have a clear responsibility to care for those in distress, and in this episode, we walk through what whole-life advocacy looks like for the Church as well as how to get involved as college students.  In Image Bearers, Herbie leaves us with several questions, “Am I willing to be inconvenienced in order to defend life?” and, “Is my apathy towards the voiceless contributing to injustice?”  These are challenging questions, but wrestling with them will lead to finding out how we may use our prayers, unique positions, and gifts to fight for the voiceless and care holistically for distressed families.

Biblical Justice

After diving into Scripture and seeking out God’s instruction for life to the fullest on this earth, we should be naturally driven to engage in the world around us while we wait for Jesus’s second coming.  In his book Generous Justice, Tim Keller writes, “A true experience of the grace of Jesus Christ inevitably motivates a man or woman to seek justice in the world.”  

Our salvation motivates us to bring others into the family of God, just as we were once aliens. I believe learning and listening lead to a new understanding of how to love our neighbors well.

So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.  In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
-Ephesians 2:19-22

Dr. Brent Strawn is an author of scholastic works such as The Old Testament: A Concise Introduction and The Old Testament Is Dying (Theological Explorations for the Church Catholic): A Diagnosis and Recommended Treatment.  He is currently a professor at Duke’s Divinity School and Law School.

In this episode, Dr. Strawn tackles questions such as, “Does God care about justice?” and explains some parts of the Mosaic law which reflect God’s care for the vulnerable.  When God was king of Israel, the nation operated as a theocracy, and today we still have a responsibility as the Church to act as citizens of heaven. When Jesus enters history, he perfectly displays a life of loyalty to God while living under the earthly government, the Roman empire.  He respects authorities while living totally different than the surrounding culture. He seeks justice for the lowest in society out of a humble overflow of internal righteousness, and we can seek to follow this example.

Modern-day “social justice” seems to be a movement separate from the Church.  What should our involvement look like? Are Christianity and justice separable?  Find out more in Episode 2 of The Dual Citizen Podcast.

Human Dignity: Not Only Believing in It, but Embodying It

Growing up in the church I always loved hearing the different stories in the Bible, from the Exodus out of Egypt to the tale of Esther and all the way to Jesus and his life on Earth. But, one thing always confused me. I never understood why people treated each other so badly. Why would any person be rejected? Why do people hate each other? God’s love for humanity is so clear throughout all of Scripture, so doesn’t that mean that everyone should love each other too? 

Now that I am in college I’ve come to see how complex it can be to treat everyone equally. Many barriers are societal, but most of them come from within. As Christians living in a world already full of hate, it’s important to remember what God has to say about human dignity. 

The dignity of all people—founded on the Biblical truth that we are created in God’s image—should compel Christians into action, to do all we can to fight for justice and freedom. This seems like a weighty issue, but it can be distilled into two foundational truths: we were all created in the image of God, and we serve a God who seeks justice.

Created in the image of God

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
-Genesis 1: 26-28

The creation account confirms that human dignity is not arbitrary, it is based on the truth that God himself created us. We are worthy and dignified because all of us were made in the likeness of God. Whether rich or poor, regardless of race, religion, background, the Lord created human beings all equal and all worthy, and they should be treated accordingly. I don’t believe that our problem is believing this truth, but instead fully embracing it and displaying it in our lives. 

While listening to a sermon from High Point Church on human dignity, I was struck by an interesting truth revealed through an analogy, the story of the Prince and the Pauper. It is easy for us to understand why the poor pauper would want to switch lives with the prince—in order to attain the dignity that any human deserves—but why would the prince want to switch with the pauper? The pastor explained that it is because the prince has to hold the weight of everyone else’s dignity on his back. The pressure is too much and he wants the freedom that comes with being poor.

If we are being honest with ourselves, even as Christians, we want to experience human dignity for ourselves, but just like the prince, we do not want to have the dignity of others on our backs. Our human nature makes us desire to be treated with dignity. But, in our sinful state, we choose not to treat everyone else with the dignity they deserve; even passively, we choose not to fight for the freedom all deserve. We want to receive the benefits, yet we try to escape the responsibilities. 

None of us can achieve this perfectly, but we are shown the prime example to follow in the Bible. Jesus stands for the dignity of all people, and gladly gives his dignity up for the  freedom of others. 

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few;  therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
-Matthew 9:36-38

Jesus showed compassion to all looked down upon in society, he treated them with the dignity they deserved. He even made a point to “pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers.”  Jesus didn’t abandon the helpless and poor, but instead ensured their safety and salvation. Following Jesus’ example will lead us to embrace both the dignity we long for and the dignity we were created to receive. 

But What Does This Look Like?  

Then the King will say to those on his right, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.  For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.” Then the righteous will answer him, saying, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?” And the King will answer them, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”
Matthew 25:34-40

Matthew highlights the specific steps we must take to live out the truth of human dignity:  we serve the Lord by serving the “least of these” and standing up for them. This means that we honor the dignity of others by loving our neighbor as ourselves; and in doing so, we honor the Lord, in whose image they were made. We must fight against our human nature to treat others differently or view them in different lights. God’s own honor is at stake. 

In our day, there is a scientifically narrow understanding of human beings and how they deserve to be treated. Many people are no longer treated with dignity and live in oppression and bondage, but Christians must always be guided by the truth that we serve a God who seeks justice for all of his people. 

Most of the time, the Bible uses the word “justice” to refer to restorative justice, in which those who are unrightfully hurt or wronged are restored and given back what was taken from them. Psalm 72 reveals this, 

Give the king your justice, O God,
And your righteousness to the royal son!
May he judge your people with righteousness,
and your poor with justice!
Let the mountains bear prosperity for the people
and the hills in righteousness!
May he defend the cause of the poor of the people,
give deliverance to the children of the needy,
and crush the oppressor.
-Psalm 72:1-4

There are so many people in our world that are not given the dignity they deserve, many are being treated as if they weren’t even human. There are millions of people in bondage who can’t attain freedom on their own. Millions. Over 40 million humans are at risk and not safe, trapped in modern day human slavery, not living in the freedom and dignity that they deserve. 

Knowing that we serve a God that seeks justice, and knowing that all humans deserve to be treated with dignity and worth, we must collectively fight for freedom and life. While not everyone will be called to directly engage in this fight, everyone still has a crucial role to play.

All of us ought to pray, advocate, and care for those around us. We must choose not to live in ignorant bliss, and acknowledge that people everyday are being treated inhumanely. Prayer is a weapon that we possess that can help make leaps and bounds for the freedom fight. We must pray for those both physically and spiritually in bondage, pray for their protection and that they come to know God, and pray that the Lord softens the hearts of the oppressors. Most importantly, we must do our best to live life with a Christ-like attitude showing dignity to all we come in contact with and loving our neighbor. We must treat everyone we come in contact with, with respect and to serve them in the same way as noted in Matthew 25 above.

We are dignified because we are made in the likeness of God, but we only truly and fully embody our dignity when we step out of the societal constructs and into the mindset of Christ. We should not only understand our own worth outlined in the truths of the Bible, but should also embrace our duty to keep the dignity of all others at the forefront of our mind, love our neighbors, and seek justice for the oppressed.

What Does the Bible Say About Racism?

With everything that is going on in our world, there continue to exist tragedies that remind us that racism remains a prominent issue. The surfacing of the recent video of the death of Ahmaud Arbery has reignited the sentiments surrounding inequality, injustice, and racial inequality. I often wonder how many more tragedies it is going to take for people to wake up to this saddening reality. Honestly, I don’t know. 

The impact racism has on our community is grave and it constantly serves as a reminder of a world of horrors that we, today, are still not very far from. Progress has been made, but there is still so much work to do. People wonder what they can do to help it, fix it, or make it better.  As a black believer, I encourage fellow believers to turn to The Bible and ask, Can you love God but hate his people? 

Partiality, Judgement, and Loving Others

The Bible provides us with the resources to live a God-centered life and is not silent on the topics of partiality, judging others based on appearance, and loving others. It is very clear that the Bible condemns racism. 


The Bible also teaches us that God is an impartial God. He shows no partiality towards certain races nor does he favor one type of person over another. We are all seen as the same in Christ. In Acts, Peter comes to the realization that God shows no partiality, saying,

Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.
-Acts 10:34

“Every nation”  and “anyone” are words that tell us that across nations, anyone and everyone that fears him and does right is acceptable to him. This means that God’s love for his people crosses over racial and ethnic backgrounds too. In James 2 we find these words, 

But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.
-James 2:9

Evidently, God commands us not to show partiality toward others or show favor of one person over another due to their ethnicity, nationality, wealth, or appearance.

Judging Others Based on Appearance

Jesus, at the Feast of Booths, tells the crowd “Do not judge by appearance, but judge with right judgment” (John 7:24), and in the Old Testament in 1 Samuel when David is anointed king, God tells Samuel, 

Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.
-1 Samuel 16:7

These words reveal to us God’s true nature and the basis upon which he passes judgment. It has nothing to do with the color of your skin, what clothes you wear, and the number of good deeds you’ve done. He searches your heart.

Loving Others

The environments we grow up in shape and influence our beliefs, judgments, biases, and prejudices.  However, one’s unique exposure, or lack thereof,  does not provide us with a proper excuse for the decisions we make, and how we choose to love others. 

 1 John is very clear on loving others and God, as it states: 

If anyone says “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.
-1 John 4:20

We Love God by Loving All His People

Since the fall of Adam and Eve, we humans have found ways to distinguish ourselves from other people, allowing that separation to shape our thoughts (see James 2:4). Much of this is due to our human nature and sin. However, we have to make the conscious decision to look beyond our differences and see people for who they are: made in the image of God.

The Bible is very vocal about God’s love for his people who are made in His image. In the book of Genesis, on the sixth day, God created man. He said, 

“Let us make the man [humankind] in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish in the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. So God created man in his own image, and in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”
-Genesis 1:26-27

The word “created” appears three times along with the word “make.” We were created in His image with such intentionality. God made no mistakes. We are all made in His likeness and that includes people of every ethnicity, nationality, and tribe.

As we go deeper into Scripture, we discover passages like 1 John 4:20 and see how crucial it is to love others well. With the coming of Christ, we were given a new commandment about loving others in John 13, and this command appears in the New Testament eleven times. Jesus said, 

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.
-John 13:34

He also tells us to “treat others as you wish to be treated” (Matthew 7:12) and to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39).

Search Your Heart 

Through Christ, we are unified and the gift of salvation is available to people of all ethnicities. His grace is universally available to different people groups. In Galatians Paul tells us: 

For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
-Galatians 3:26-28

This verse is one of my favorites because it tells us that despite the degrees of separation that we’ve created, believers are one in Christ. 

So what can people do to work against racism? They can search their own hearts and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to them any prejudices, thoughts, or assumptions that are discriminatory.  They can seek God’s truth and extend love to everyone whether they look just like them or different. They can be vessels of change, speak up, and hold others accountable.

Is Sexual Activity Outside of Marriage Always a Sin?

With couples aspiring to engage in deeper forms of intimacy, the question will inevitably be asked—how far is too far?  I, for one, have asked myself that same question. Today, adolescents are starting to date earlier than in the past, so, predictably, the ladder of intimacy will reach newer heights sooner rather than later. For the Christian, the core desire should be to honor and glorify God with our bodies just as with our minds and hearts. As we navigate exactly how to do that, let’s look to scripture for guidance, knowing that, “all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16)

What Does the Bible Say?

In the Bible, “sexual immorality” is translated a total of 26 times (Matt. 15:19, Act 15:20, 1 Cor 6:18, Gal 5:19, & 1Th 4:3). The actual Greek word translated as “sexual immorality” is porneia, and when the original authors wrote “flee from porneia,” the audience at the time knew exactly what that meant. One of my favorite analogies on this topic is one I came across while reading a book titled Sex, Dating, and Relationships: A Fresh Approach by Hiestand and Thomas published in 2012. I hope that this analogy will emphasize that the command to flee sexual immorality is not one we should take lightly.

Imagine a wife has baked a cake, and she explicitly instructs her husband not to eat the cake. He nods in understanding, yet as soon as she leaves the kitchen, he cuts himself a generous slice and then bites it and chews it, savoring all the flavor, and then spits it back onto his plate having never swallowed it. His wife steps back into the kitchen and looks at him in disgust. She says again, “I told you not to eat the cake!” The husband tries to justify it by saying that he did not actually eat the cake. He defines eating as swallowing, and since he did not swallow the cake, essentially, he never ate it. In theory, he did not have “eating relations” with that cake.

It is a silly analogy but I hope it is a convicting one. Some may think that the Bible is not clear when it comes to addressing sexual activity outside of marriage, but I beg to differ. Given the historical and cultural framework of the New Testament, the authors did not need to spell out how far is too far. In sum, all premarital sexual activity—however  light or seemingly harmless—is sinful. Paul reminds us that there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality because it is improper for God’s holy people (see Eph. 5:3).

A Heart Issue

Any sin is the result of failing to honor and glorify God. Our sexual sin is a problem of worship. In Genesis 39 when Joseph is tempted to sleep with Potiphar’s wife, he is quoted as saying, “How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” (Gen. 39:9). Joseph was not primarily thinking about the wrong he would be doing to Potiphar, instead, he quickly fled because he did not want to sin against his God. The reason sexual sin is such a big issue is primarily because it is sin against a righteous and holy God. Second, it is a sin against our own bodies. Paul writes, “Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.” (1 Cor. 6:18)

You may have heard it said that your life is an overflow of your heart. Therefore, our sexual sin is the result of our heart not  having ultimate satisfaction in Christ alone. As John Piper points out, God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him. I want to encourage us all to resist the temptation to rename sin, attempting to make it look like it’s not sin. When it comes to sexual sin and lust, there are numerous sexual innuendos. “It’s okay to look at the menu as long as you do not order anything,” or “How do you know what car you want to buy if you don’t test drive a couple first?”. Crude sayings like these will always fail because, put simply, they are a way of attempting to ignore what is clear and definite in the Bible. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery. But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matt. 5:27-28) 

Lust can be described as “looking with the intent to act.” Jesus conveys that lust is sinful, and it is not merely something to be managed. We don’t need new behaviors, we need new hearts. As God’s people, we must put to death the old self and put on the new self, as Paul writes in his letter to the Colossians. English theologian John Owen writes in his book The Mortification of Sin, “be killing sin, or sin will be killing you.” Sexual activity outside of marriage, even lust, is choosing to glorify ourselves and our desires rather than Christ. When we do not actively pursue something, we end up passively pursuing something else. 

In my own relationship, my fiancée and I have had the conversation of how far is too far, and we know that Scripture says even a hint is too far. For that reason, we know what gets our bodies “ready” for sex. Only by God’s grace and discipline have we kept clear of sexual activity, and it is not always easy. But my encouragement to us all is to know three simple words—Christ is better. The Psalmist writes, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11)

How Do We Move Forward?

The key to moving forward is looking to the Bible as authoritative and not merely as a book of suggestions. Nonetheless, we do not obey to earn God’s love, we obey because He has already given it. For the Christian, identity proceeds action, never the other way around. A beautiful picture of this can be found in the book of Ephesians. In Ephesians 1:5, Paul writes, “He predestined us for adoption to Himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will.” Then in 5:1 we see, “Therefore, be imitators of God, as beloved children.” Again, identity proceeds action.

We can only move forward when we come to a better understanding of God’s design and purpose for sex. God intentionally created sex in a way that brings Him great glory and us great joy. This can only be found in the context of committed, covenantal marriage. In the book Catching Foxes, John Henderson writes, “God-honoring sexual union happens between one man and one woman, within the marriage covenant, as an expression of faith and worship toward God.” In fact, sexual activity is commanded in Scripture for the husband and wife. It is also meant to be pleasing for one another (see 1 Cor 7:1-5). When we correctly see that the Bible is not anti-sex, but pro-intimacy within the covenant of marriage, our understanding of the gift of sex will transform the way we think about sexual activity and ultimately lead us to a chaste life. 

Now,if some of us have failed sexually, what should we do now? Accept grace and seek repentance just like everyone else. As a Church body, we should be seeking to restore those who have fallen into deep sexual sin, not ostracizing them or thinking of ourselves as better. Jesus levels the playing field. For the ones who have failed sexually, know that healing does not come without repentance. Tony Merida—council member of the Gospel Coalition—writes, “Repentance involves acknowledging the sin, believing that you need to change, experiencing the grace of Jesus, and then changing your life.” With that being said, of course, you can be a Christian if you have fallen or are currently in sexual sin, but true Christians will not desire to persist in that state. If you are currently in sin, are you content being there, or do you have the desire to change? If the answer is the latter, surround yourself with a body of believers who can encourage you and walk with you in this time. 

My Prayer for Us All

I pray that as you and I seek to grow in Christ-likeness, may we remember to glorify God with our bodies. May we seek Christ above all else. And may we know that Christ is better. May that knowledge increase our trust in Him, enabling us to say“no” to the sinful pleasures of this world and “yes” to the Creator and Sustainer of it all.

What Makes an Opinion?

What makes an opinion?  The mission of the Dual Citizen is to equip young American Christians to engage in community-changing conversation and action.  A Christian worldview often leads to questions and opposition, and in order to have these conversations, we must be prepared.  This episode was crafted to encourage listeners to do research for themselves and figure out what they believe beyond the surface, theologically and politically.  I interviewed a panel of three students, Cole Shiflet, Trina Leary, and Haley Plemons, all of whom have set examples in strong faith, bold convictions, and thorough research.  

In this conversation, we reflect on the message of Image Bearers by Herbie Newell, which conveys a “whole-life pro-life” ethic, meaning the issue of abortion is not a political line item, but a posture towards all people as bearers of God’s own image, made in his likeness (Genesis 1:26).  These students offer perspectives from three different areas of study: Social Work, Pre-Ministry, and Neuroscience/Pre-Med, which allows us to examine various pro-choice arguments, discuss how to have a conversation with a person of a different faith or none, and share ways to build one’s own foundation on the issue of abortion or any topic.  When we as believers explore all sides of an issue, wrestle with hard questions, and consider how to share our views with love and empathy, we are equipped to confidently engage in a conversation that could lead to sharing the Gospel.  

Tune in to Episode 4 on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Google Podcasts to hear the whole conversation.

Delighting in the Goodness of God

“How can a good God send people to hell?” This age-old question has fueled the discussion about God, His goodness, and the nature of fairness since the beginning of time. Oftentimes, we think that we are in fact good people who do more good than bad and do not deserve hell. What is so dangerous about this accusation against God is that it carries a pretense of pride.

When asked this very question during a question and answer session at a conference, R.C. Sproul replied, “Why do bad things happen to good people? It only happened once and he volunteered.”

Here, R.C. Sproul points us to a beautiful and humbling truth: only God is good and no one else. God has set the standard for what is good, and no one can reach the standard of goodness. God is good. Therefore, the standard of goodness is God. So if the standard of goodness is the holy perfection of God, we must recognize that we utterly fail to come anywhere close to God’s standard. In fact, we are the opposite of what good is. We are bad. And although we are bad and fully deserving of God’s wrath, Christ took our place. He took God’s judgement upon himself so that we could be forgiven by God. Christ was resurrected three days later and through his victorious atonement those who have been drawn toward Christ are now seen as good by God due to Christ’s imputation of His righteousness to us by grace. But what does this actually mean?

God is Good and Righteous

Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good;
sing to his name, for it is pleasant!
-Psalms 135:3

As the psalmist David repetitively proclaims, the Lord is good. Throughout all of the Bible, this is a common praise from man to God. That He is good. Many worship songs today also proclaim this—from Carl Boberg’s “How Great Thou Art” to Bethel Music’s “King of My Heart”—we are surrounded by praises to God that exclaim that He is good. But what does it mean for God to be good? What is goodness? 

1 John 1:5 says, “This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.”

God is perfect.

There is no darkness in Him. God is our standard of perfection. He need not appeal to any greater standard. God is not defined by perfection. Perfection is defined by Him. Within His perfection lies every attribute of God in divine, perfect form. Since God is perfect, He cannot sin (1 John 1:5). God is the Creator of the universe and everything in it. There is no fault in Him. He is completely perfect. Paul says in His letter to the Romans:

But if our unrighteousness brings out God’s righteousness more clearly, what shall we say? That God is unjust in bringing his wrath on us? (I am using a human argument). Certainly not! If that were so, how could God judge the world?
-Romans 3:5-6

God is just.

Because God is a just God, His law is perfect. His law must be obeyed if we are to live justly. Since God loves us, His justice must be enacted upon those who break His law. The sentence for sin is death and the punishment must be borne by those who have committed sin in order to rightly appease the judgement of God. The disobedience of God’s law cannot go unpunished.

Psalm 145:9 says, “The Lord is good to all, and His mercy is over all that He has made.”

God is merciful.

He is full of mercy. God’s mercy reaches to the depths of the sea and to the heights of the sky. He is merciful to both the just and unjust (Matthew 5:45). His mercy is evident in the fact that each day we wake, we are experiencing a mercy that transcends all bounds. God’s mercy does not make sense to us; it has no rhyme or reason by our standards. Yet God delights in freely and gracefully extending His mercy upon those who have nothing that they could ever bring to the table. 

Psalm 107:1 says, “Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever!”

God is love.

Not only is God a loving God, but He Himself is Love. His love is eternal and first rooted in the love of His own goodness, and then in His love for the creation when they participate in the pre-existing, eternal union of the Trinity. His love is displayed through His continual extending of both judgement and mercy upon humanity. Because He loves us, He must enact His wrath upon those who break His law. Because He loves us, He freely places His mercy upon those whom He saves, although all who break His law are undeserving of mercy and fully deserving of His holy judgement.

Psalm 34:8 says, “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!”

God is good.

We cannot experience good things apart from God because He is the only thing that is good. Our definition of good will never suffice if it is not centered and focused in on the eternal character of the one true God. Only through God’s Word do we have an accurate picture of goodness because God and God alone is good. Goodness is not an adjective. It is who God is. What joy it is that mere humans cannot define or even portray goodness due to our brokenness but that goodness is instead defined and portrayed by the God that created us! We can find and abide in everlasting joy when we come into fellowship with God. This should bring us great joy that our only lasting fulfillment in life comes solely in the goodness of a God who promises Himself to us.

The Unrighteousness of Man

They have all turned inside; together they have become corrupt;
there is none who does good, not even one.
-Psalms 14:3

The truth hurts, especially when it tears down the facade that we put up to coddle our prideful sense of sufficiency as humans. We are a prideful people in that our natural desire is to rebel against God and His rule because we believe that we can be the rightful rulers of our own lives. The consequence of this pride is eternal damnation and separation from God (Romans 5:12). We seem to believe that we are good and in doing so we are crowning ourselves with selfish glory and sitting upon a throne of arrogance, pride, and delusion.

When sin entered the world in the Garden of Eden, death, decay, and destruction cursed every living soul that will ever exist. This is God’s wrath. His judgement upon the soul of every human being, as we are all under the bondage of sin (Romans 3:9). Our God is a just God, and in Genesis 2 we see that God gave humanity a command to obey, but when humanity did not obey (Genesis 3), it was given a just punishment for its disobedience.

Since we have fallen short of God’s glory and sinned (Romans 3:23), we are consequently under God’s wrath. We are under the law, always. And since we are under the law, we are to receive God’s holy wrath upon our physical death which will result in our eternal separation from God. However, for those of us in Christ, Christ’s obedience to that Law is sufficient to cover us. Since God is good, His law must be good. In other words, God’s law is perfect and righteous because God is perfect and righteous. This points to the humbling truth that we are in fact unrighteous, wretched sinners with no claim to goodness in any sense of the word. As Aristotle once wrote,

From this it is also plain that none of the moral virtues arises in us by nature; for nothing that exists by nature can form a habit contrary to its nature.

Not only are we unrighteous, but we are evil by nature due to the Fall. When sin entered the world, all of humanity adopted a sinful nature. Therefore, we are by nature sinful beings who cannot do good or uphold a standard of goodness. Nothing that we do can justify us or make us righteous. As Paul writes in Romans 3:20, “For by the works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.”

Christ Our Righteousness

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace.
-Ephesians 1:7

What radical love this is! We have sinned against God and therefore forfeited goodness out of our lives. We are due for a just and fair punishment of death and separation from the one holy and perfect God. There is nothing that we can do to get out of this and redeem ourselves. But God, rich in mercy and love (Ephesians 2:4-5), sent Christ to be the payment for our sins. Jesus came and lived a perfect life that upheld the law in every way on our behalf because we cannot do good and uphold the law. He then took our place on the cross to die the death that we deserve and are rightly due for. Three days later he rose from the grave in victory having broken the bondage which sin and death has on humanity. This is the good news of the gospel!

They are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
-Romans 3:24-26

We must have faith in God and enter into a relationship with Him in order to be saved (John 3:16). When God saves us, He transforms our old, unrighteous heart into a heart that desires Him. We have a yearning to know more of who God is and to worship Him as our sole purpose in life. This is only possible, however, by the grace of God (Ephesians 2:8-9) through Christ making us into a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). Only when we are in Christ does he impute his righteousness to us. By the indwelling of His Spirit, God changes us in every way, from the inside out. We are good only in Christ!

Only Christ can redeem us. There is no other way. God’s wrath enacted upon Christ in our place allows us to receive His grace as the undeserved gift of salvation. This is only available for us to receive through the justice and grace of God. Only by the power of God can we be saved and transformed. Colossians 3:9-10 says that if we are saved then we must put on our new self and put off the old self. We must abide in Christ and have faith in Him alone to transform us and make us new.

This is true for those who are saved: through Christ’s death and resurrection, God imputes His goodness to us so that now God sees Christ in us. Salvation is not dependent on our goodness (which we have none of) or our work, but fully dependent on Christ’s goodness, his accomplished work on the cross, and His resurrection from the tomb. All praise be to God for this! Only He is good and only in Christ can we be righteous in God’s eyes. What a beautiful gift of grace—the ultimate gift of grace—from a good, good God.

So How Can A Good God Send People To Hell?

The question that has kept so many people captivated for so long is one that is answered by the very character of God. The question that might be more helpful to those wrestling with the question is not “How can a good God send people to hell?” but instead “Why would a good God send people to heaven?” The reason that people go to hell is because God is good. But, in Christ, we are given unmerited and amazing grace by which this good God can also look on us with delight rather than displeasure (Isaiah 53:6). The reason that people can go to heaven is because God is good. Justice and love meet at the cross. Through faith alone by grace alone in Christ alone, we are made new and seen as good through Christ’s righteousness, forever allowing us to delight in God and His goodness.

Is Lying Always A Sin?

We cannot get around the obvious truth that lying is always a sin. Regardless of the circumstance, the Bible does not shy away from teaching us that lying is a sin. The commands given by the Lord are absolute and unchanging and are given for our good and His glory. Though we face pressing and difficult situations, we cannot compromise or normalize lying. In order to examine this further, I would like to look at this question from several different angles: biblical, historical, and practical.

However, before I begin to make my case, I want to make one thing clear. I am not asking if you would be able to resist the temptation to lie in certain situations, nor am I trying to shame you. I will not tell you that it is easy to resist the temptation to lie. Humans, when given the opportunity of ease and comfort, will lie rather than follow the commands of God.

Surprisingly, when I asked a group of professing Christian students the question, “Is lying always a sin?” they replied, “Of course not, I think that if I lie to save someone, then God will think I’m clever,” or “No, if I lied during World War II to save the Jewish people, that wouldn’t be a sin because I did the right thing.” Unfortunately, the Bible, the one source of truth, does not sway.

Biblical View

Topic, for utmost confidence, we must first look to the Word Himself for our example. Jesus Christ, truly God and truly man, lived on the earth for more than three decades and encountered trials of all kinds. Yet, in these situations He never stumbled, sinned, or lied even though he might have had good reason (Hebrews 4:15).

For example, Jesus knew exactly who would betray him, but did not lie to Judas about where He would be to avoid being arrested, nor did He lie when the Pharisees and Sadducees asked him difficult questions that could have caused him to be stoned. In addition, while on trial in Luke 22, the council of elders asked Jesus if He claimed to be the Son of God, and He replied in the affirmative when it would have been just as easy to lie in order to preserve His life.

Often, I witness people attempting to debate this topic by using the story of the gentile prostitute, Rahab, and her act of lying in order to hide the spies of Israel and keep them safe.

But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them. She said, “Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they had come from. At dusk, when it was time to close the city gate, they left. I don’t know which way they went. Go after them quickly. You may catch up with them.” (But she had taken them up to the roof and hidden them under the stalks of flax she had laid out on the roof.) So the men set out in pursuit of the spies on the road that leads to the fords of the Jordan, and as soon as the pursuers had gone out, the gate was shut.
-Joshua 2:4-7)

They say that she is commended for lying in “the right circumstance” by God, but Hebrews 11:31 easily puts this to rest,
By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.
It is easy to observe that Rahab was commended not for her act of lying, but for her faith in God. She was recognized for her faith, which we know was instantaneously followed by salvation. God took her sinful actions and used them for His glory without praising her for wrongdoing. The Bible will not praise sin because it is divinely inspired and the Godhead never approves of any wrongdoing that contradicts his character. God is holy and just and cannot approve of unholiness.

Historical View

Our secondary examination of this topic is a historical view. First, I wanted to begin with a quote by one of my favorite theologians of the nineteenth century,

Truth has no degrees or shades. A half truth is a whole lie, and a white lie is really black.
– Charles Spurgeon

Doesn’t this quote only substantiate what we already know the Bible says? Our culture constantly tries to make the claim that truth is relative, that it is always changing, and that it is dependent on situations and the opinions of human beings. Christians must not take this to heart, but rather uncompromisingly refuse to conform to the patterns of the world (Romans 12:12).
We are called to rise above temptation, to glorify God even in the midst of a great conundrum, and to obey His word in response to our saving faith. The church in America has a desperate need for bold-hearted men and women who are willing to take a stand for the truth, and a horrific abundance of cowards who will compromise on pretty much any part of the Christian faith that could offend people.

A more extreme example from church history comes from the ten Boom family, a Christian family who was involved with hiding jews during the Holocaust. One member of the family felt particularly strong about honoring the law of the Lord at all costs, even at the potential cost of her family’s lives or the lives of those whom they had protected from the Nazis. When the police came to her house and asked her point-blank if her family was being unloyal to the Nazi regime, she too answered in the affirmative but her life was spared because of Divine Sovereignty.

Furthermore, the examples of Rahab and the ten Boom family are rare and exceptional situations that cannot supercede God’s explicitly revealed commandments in both the Old and New Testaments. We must also believe that in addition to those situations arising rarely, there must also be a way to answer those questions in a way that would honor the Lord and not cause one to stumble.

Practical View

Life is not always this simple. We are not guaranteed a happy life free from suffering and hardship. We are, however, guaranteed to encounter many trials paired with the promise of entering into eternal life with the Father. We also have the promise of having the Spirit in us always as a helper, constantly interceding on our behalf, giving us all needed wisdom, discernment, energy, and boldness to honor the Lord in all our actions.

Reminder of God’s Character

The Scriptures teach us that God is immutable, which means that he does not change (James 1:17, Isaiah 40:8). This attribute of God should be taken into account whenever we are looking at this question. Due to the fact that we have already examined a biblical, historical, and practical view, I want to shift our focus to the immutability of God and its implications in this argument.
The Triune God, the Creator of the universe, exists as three distinct persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. In John 1:1, John makes the bold yet accurate statement that Jesus is the embodiment of the Word. If God says in Exodus that lying is a sin, and Jesus corroborates that statement in the New Testament, than God has not changed and neither has the Word. In His immutability, God does not allow room for wrongdoing, nor does He see anything as gray.

My Prayer for You

I pray that as you and I continue to wrestle with this topic as well as the other deep truths of the Lord, that we would first and foremost seek Scripture and dive into prayer for wisdom and guidance. May we never stray from biblical orthodoxy to satisfy our culture, and may we always desire to see Him glorified.

How Should the Church Combat Sex Trafficking?

Modern day slavery is a sad reality, but, nonetheless, it is a reality. The International Labor Organization has estimated there are 20.9 million human trafficking victims globally, with sex trafficking accounting for roughly 58% of the cases reported. They have also estimated approximately 500,000 to 600,000 new victims of sex trafficking every year. To be clear, these are conservative estimates when compared with others.

I believe that it is the Church’s job to shine God’s light where there is darkness and bring God’s kingdom where there is brokenness by helping those in need. Surely, this is an issue full of darkness and brokenness that the Church must address.

There are four actions the Church can take to combat this global tragedy of sex trafficking: advocate, support, address, and pray.


Advocacy does not fix a problem like this, but it is the first step. After all, how can anyone help prevent sex trafficking if they don’t know about it?

People realize that sex trafficking is a horrendous evil, and many also know that it is extraordinarily prevalent. What they may not know is what God, through His church, is doing and should be doing about it.

There is a great deal of complacency and apathy in the American Church regarding the atrocities in our world. Just the other day in class, my friend, who I know to be an active christian, noticed a sticker on my laptop which reads “End Slavery in Our Lifetime.” She commented that it’s a nice thought, but that slavery will always be around. I reminded her that it’s our job to do something about that.

“For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’”
-Deuteronomy 15:11

Advocacy that gives hope and points to an even brighter future hope is the type of advocacy the Church needs to participate in. This drives people out of their complacency to truly be a part of what God is doing. We need to be telling our congregations and community groups: “Sex Trafficking is a major problem, but you can help do something about it.”


There is no need for every church community to launch their own ministry to fight sex trafficking; rather, every church should be open and willing to support and partner with existing effective ministries.

Reputable ministries such as International Justice Mission and Agape International Missions have been effective in the fight against sex trafficking. There are additionally countless smaller local ministries which are leading the fight in our own communities. Churches and individuals supporting and giving to such ministries will go a long way. Besides just donating, Christians should consider going on mission trips or even employing these ministries.

The Church’s vocal activism can help support programs which hinder sex trafficking. 2017’s “Speak Up,” a day dedicated to tweeting, emailing, and calling members of congress, was utilized for several questionable social issues. However, it also proved determinate in the US government continuing to allocate funds to “The Program to End Modern Slavery,” a federal program allocated with $75 million which is used to give grants to non-government organizations and conduct research into methodologies to further impede human trafficking.

When examining the results of the “Speak Up” campaign, it is evident that contacting legislators can make a difference. So, the Church needs to continue to be a voice in her communities. Reaching out to federal and local government leaders is a practice that too few churches undertake, but one that can have even more fruitful effects for bringing justice to the oppressed.

Being voices and influencers in our communities as well as donating and partnering with effective programs and organizations may seem to be insignificant efforts. However, it is often small gestures which spark greater involvement and thus significant change.

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works”
-Hebrews 10:24


While it is encouraging to that this conversation is increasingly common in church settings, there is still too much timidity amongst Christians to talk about our sexual struggles. However, in order to combat sex trafficking, the pornography industry must be addressed by the Church.

It is likely not surprising to read that three out of every ten men between the ages of eighteen and thirty admit to viewing pornography daily, or that $3,075.64 is spent on internet pornography every second. However, what may be surprising to read, is the intimate link the pornography industry has to sex trafficking. The 2018 Federal Human Trafficking Report shows pornography was utilized in 87.7% of sex trafficking cases active in 2018. With the legal leniency pornography websites are given, experts have concluded that the pornography industry and the sex trafficking industry are closely connected.

Therefore, fighting sex trafficking should entail helping our brothers and sisters with their pornography problems and fighting against the pornography industry in America. However, preaching “pull your pants up and be a man,” as has been the trend previously, has proven ineffectual. This approach places too much emphasis on the agency of the individual who only God has the power to sanctify.

We need to implement real accountability groups. Safe places where Christians of the same gender can share openly about their struggles in order to help free them from the snare of pornograpy. There are a number of programs and curriculum that have been seen to have positive results which churches and small groups can utilize. A few of these being Covenant Eyes, the 3x Church, and Conquer Series. Using these resources in order to have real accountability are strategies in waging war against the flesh. Means by which we allow the Holy Spirit to further work in our hearts.

“Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.”
-1 Peter 2:11

This abstaining from pornography will not only change the possible devalued mental or subconscious attitude towards the opposite sex that often occupancies pornography consumption, but it will genuinely affect the supply and demand of the sex trafficking industry. Which will significantly hinder the enormity.


I recently attended the Gospel Coalition National Conference where I had the privilege of listening to a panel discussion with some of the leading pastors in China. When asked what the number one thing Christians in America can do to help them, one of the men said, “three things: pray, pray, pray.” When asked how the Church should fight human trafficking, I echo the plea of the Chinese pastor.

Pray, pray, pray.

Pray that people will understand that they can do something about the problem. Pray for the organizations and programs that are leading the fight against human trafficking. Pray for Christians to crucify their flesh and to throw off the pornography which so easily entangles them. Pray for the hearts of the traffickers who are exploiting their victims. Pray that God would show justice. Pray for God to move. Pray.

Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.”
-Psalm 107:13