To answer the question of ISIS and the baffling reaction of America’s leaders, we must address: Why does the American moral code reject self-interest in favor of self-sacrifice?
The answer only becomes clear after a deep search of the American soul. So let’s look at the moral foundations of the most moral of Americans: the Christians.
How do intellectually astute Christians typically respond to the evil of ISIS?
More fundamentally, how do they defend the very idea of their own moral code? If asked about moral foundations, this is the typical answer: “Morality can only be found in God’s Word. Unless there is a divine law-giver, no one can really tell right from wrong, and morality has no basis. But we all know there is such thing as right and wrong. There is indeed a divine law-giver: God.”
This view is common. It is full of problems.
First, how exactly is a Christian different from the members of ISIS who claim the word of Allah? “But our Word from God is the real one.” Fair enough, but with that claim how will American Christians be able to convince their secular countrymen to fight against militant Islam?
Is the moral absolute of divine revelation the only possible defense against subjectivism and moral compromise?
Or is there a way to appeal to all Americans right now and to point them to the just and proper response to a foreign attacker? We see in Romans 2:14 that morality is available to all people, whether or not they have God’s law: Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. Thus God’s Word itself shows that it should not be appealed to as “the only possible escape” from subjectivism and moral doubt. Moral facts are grounded in reality itself, as observable by all men.
Even God’s own judgments are based on reality.
Romans 2:2 says: Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. What is the truth here referred to? The factual needs of human life. God’s moral judgments are a means to the end of human life (Deuteronomy 30:15). But even without access to God’s moral judgments, secular man is equipped to understand that criminals and aggressors are evil and must be stopped. Thus American Christians should publicly advocate for war against aggressor nations by appealing to the principle of justice, as understandable by all men. To support such a policy we need only recognize the objectivity of morality.
In this series:
Christianity and ISIS: Toward a Better World Pt. 1
Christianity and ISIS: Toward a Better World Pt. 2
Christianity and ISIS: Toward a Better World Pt. 3
Christianity and ISIS: Toward a Better World Pt. 4
Christianity and ISIS: Toward a Better World Pt. 5