Modern Myths: We Can Have Morality Without Religion

“And so it was, when Jesus had ended these sayings, that the people were astonished at His teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.”

— Matthew 7:28–29

What part does your relationship with God play in your life? Your answer to that question will affect your reaction to the myth we look at today.

Many people believe that they can have morality without religion. What do you think about that statement? It’s a myth so ingrained in the modern American mind that people take it for granted. In fact, we continue to build our current educational and legal systems upon it, despite the warnings of great people in history. For example, George Washington, in his farewell address, warned us to avoid this myth: “And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion.” Dostoevsky, an author of the last century, reminded us, “If there is no God, then everything is permissible.” Jean-Paul Sartre echoed Washington and Dostoevsky: “[Without God] all activities are equivalent … Thus it amounts to the same thing whether one gets drunk alone, or is a leader of nations.”

And I say: We cannot have morality without religion. Why? Because people don’t follow a code of ethics when a fellow human being has drawn it up. While the humanists have drawn up a Humanist Manifesto that many have chosen to follow, this manifesto includes many things originally forbidden by God—divorce, suicide, free love, fornication, adultery, and euthanasia. No one can impose his or her morality on others. The atheists and humanists have only accomplished this because they’ve legislated whatever behaviors they’ve wanted to sanction. We also can’t have morality without religion because if we get rid of God, we have nothing left to guide us except what we see other people doing. And what someone is doing is not necessarily what he or she should be doing. You cannot get an “ought” from an “is.”

No one but God is just enough, powerful enough, or wise enough to create a moral code by which humankind must live. God not only created this code, but He sent His Son to pay the penalty for all our violations of it. Today, thank God not only for the creation of His code but also His fulfillment of it through Jesus Christ. Then submit your will to Him, allowing His moral code to guide you in everything you say and do.

“And let us with caution indulge the supposition
that morality can be maintained without religion.”
George Washington