This is a misunderstanding of the meaning of moral absolutes. It means that if an act is good or bad, it is good or bad for everyone in the identical situation ("universal morality").
But "everyone" is hardly the same as "every situation." An act that is wrong is wrong for everyone in the same situation, but almost no act is wrong in every situation. Sexual intercourse in marriage is sacred; when violently coerced, it is rape. Truth telling is usually right, but if, during World War II, Nazis asked you where a Jewish family was hiding, telling them the truth would have been evil.
So, too, it is the situation that determines when killing is wrong. That is why the Ten Commandments says "Do not murder," not "Do not kill." Murder is immoral killing, and it is the situation that determines when killing is immoral and therefore murder. Pacifism, the belief that it is wrong to take a life in every situation, is based on the mistaken belief that absolute morality means "in every situation" rather than "for everyone in the same situation." For this reason, it has no basis in Judeo-Christian values, which holds that there is moral killing (self-defense, defending other innocents, taking the life of a murderer) and immoral killing (intentional murder of an innocent individual, wars of aggression, terrorism, etc.).
But situational ethics aside, the key element to Judeo-Christian morality remains simply this: There is good and there is evil independent of personal or societal opinion; and in order to determine what it is, one must ask, "How would God and my God-based text judge this action?" rather than, "How do I -- or my society -- feel about it?"
That different religious people will at times come up with different responses in no way negates the fact that at least they may be pursuing moral truth. In secular society, where there is no God-based morality, there is no moral truth to pursue. The consequences may be easily seen by observing that the most morally confused institution in America, the university -- where good and evil are often either denied or inverted -- is also its most secular.
Dennis Prager is a SRN radio show host, contributing columnist for Townhall.com and author of his newest book, “The Ten Commandments: Still the Best Moral Code.”
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