Do We Need Religion to be Moral?

Posted by on November 21, 2015 in Christian Worldview vs. Humanistic Worldview | Comments Off on Do We Need Religion to be Moral?

1960s church family 2I saw this post on someone’s Facebook page recently: “You don’t need religion to have morals. If you don’t know the difference between right and wrong, you lack empathy, not religion.”


While this view sounds good on the surface, it is actually contradictory to what many anti-religionists believe about truth. Many non-religious people proclaim that there is no such thing as absolute truth, and they state that absolutely! They have proven wrong their own argument by the very statement itself by saying it so dogmatically.


Many irreligious people also believe that truth is changeable depending on the situation (i.e. “situational ethics”). In other words, it’s okay to cheat and steal in certain situations when the circumstances call for it. The problem with that thinking is, who gets to decide the ground rules about truth? It’s very problematic when truth is decided by each individual with no outside guiding force. When there is no moral compass outside of one’s own perception of truth, the obvious logical and extreme end of such thinking is the rise of people like Timothy McVey who bombed a government building in Oklahoma City in 1995 that killed 168 innocent men, women, and children, and wounded another 680. Just before McVey’s execution in 2001 he stated that he was glad he did what he did, and if given the opportunity he would do it again. He decided his own version of truth, and 168 perished for it.


I’m not suggesting that everyone who is irreligious is a terrorist. I know many non-religious people who I regard as decent, hard-working, peace-loving and benevolent. Yet even most of them adhere to a worldview that some would consider lacking integrity: “It’s okay to lie when it benefits me and no one is harmed.” “It’s okay to cheat on my spouse because I deserve better than what I’m getting in my marriage, and if no one finds out then no one gets hurt.” “It’s okay to fudge the numbers of my income taxes because the government cheats me all the time.” Etc.


To be fair, there are many churchgoing people who live their lives very similarly to their irreligious counterparts. However, truth and empathy as defined by the God of the Bible, the Creator of our world, is quite a bit different than how many people interpret truth. The Bible has been a guiding force in morality for thousands of years and helped shape the governing laws and societal norms of the United States of America and early Great Britain. And Bible-believing leaders such as William Wilberforce of Great Britain and Abraham Lincoln, to name just two of countless others, were greatly instrumental in abolishing slavery because of the respect for human life that they learned in their own Bibles.


In fact, Wilberforce once said, “Is it not the great end of religion, and, in particular, the glory of Christianity, to extinguish the malignant passions; to curb the violence, to control the appetites, and to smooth the asperities of man; to make us compassionate and kind, and forgiving one to another; to make us good husbands, good fathers, good friends; and to render us active and useful in the discharge of the relative social and civil duties? ”


So I agree partially with the Facebook quote that suggests we do not need to have religion to be moral, because are there not some religious groups who bomb innocent people in honor of their perverse beliefs? Are there not those who gun down unarmed worshipers during their church services simply because of the color of their skin? Some people’s version of “truth” — and indeed their very religion — compels them to hate their enemies, yet Jesus Christ taught His followers to “love your enemies and do good to those who hate you” (Luke 6:27).


So a person need not have religion to be moral or peace-loving, since “religion” is just a word that describes a particular worldview and belief system and makes no distinction between beliefs systems of violence vs. peace. And sadly, some people have twisted even the Holy Bible in order to justify their self-serving and sometimes murderous intentions. But studying the Bible – the Word of God – with pure intentions and a desire to receive God’s guidance in absolute truth and perfect morality certainly does provide a beacon of hope in a darkened and turbulent world that definitely needs a guiding light.


“I believe the Bible is the best gift God has ever given to man. All the good from The Savior of the world is communicated to us through this Book.” -Abraham Lincoln