We can support the practice of democracy without accepting the premise of democracy about morality.
Democracy’s Assumption: Human beings have the power within themselves to determine the difference between right and wrong.
We can look to democracy for responsibility while looking to God for accountability.
We need the Shepherd’s Leadership for Moral
To discern morality, we need a guide, namely God.
Where God leads and How God Leads Are
Three benefits of the shepherd’s leadership (J.A. Motyer in New Bible commentary: 21st century edition, p. 500):
“The principle behind our experiences [as sheep] is that he chooses paths of righteousness for us, paths that are ‘right with him’, making sense to him. In this he acts for his name’s sake, in accordance with his revealed character.” (J.A. Motyer in New Bible commentary: 21st century edition, p. 500)
- Paths or Righteousness (literally, right paths) = the right ways
- God’s ways are inseparable from God’s character.
- How God orders Himself, us and the world are inseparable from who He is.
Following Jesus Comes with Conditions
We cannot worship God on our own terms.
Why are the claims of Evangelical Christians so Narrow?
- When you opt of other people’s moral universes, they can opt out of yours.
- The limits “my truth” become obvious when you want to protest injustice.
- You cannot call for justice without acknowledging that there is a transcendent moral standard.
- The reality is that we are all crying out for a moral universe with boundaries, one that limits what we can do, say, think and be.
- Romans 2:14–15
- We all have a conscience, so that we can recognize the need to do good–and even pursue it.
- The problem is that our best efforts to do good still fall short of God’s holy standard. One day we will all be judged by God Himself. He’s going to hold us accountable for His standard of righteousness, not ours.
- Romans 3:10–12
- Psalm 143:2
- Ecclesiastes 7:20
The Tension of Morality Itself
Here is the tension we face: Our bodies and minds demand freedom from moral requirements while our conscience cries out for a moral standard.
Why Doesn’t the Conscience Compel Us to Create More Good in the World?
We sear our conscience and suppress the truth
- 1 Timothy 4:1–2
- Romans 1:18
- Romans 1:21
- Romans 1:25
- Romans 1:29–32
What Freedom Actually Means
- True freedom is not in what human beings call freedom.
- True freedom is liberation from the demands of our bodies and minds.
- True freedom is the liberty to obey God.
- To secure freedom, we must hunger and thirst for righteousness. (Matthew 5:6)
- Our hunger for righteousness must be greater than our hunger for freedom from righteousness.
- People will do this when they are tired of being harassed (Matthew 9:36)
- The promises of Psalm 23 (plenty, peace, renewal) hinge on our submission to the shepherd.
© Joshua D. Smith, Ph.D., 2021