The right way to write about right

Posted: May 09, 2006 12:05 AM
“Of course I dislike the Nazis. But who is to say they’re morally wrong?”

Whoa. If that statement floors you as much as it does me, then you probably can understand the need for “Christian Ethics in Plain Language,” an eye-opening book by Kerby Anderson that brings a biblical perspective to a variety of ethical issues, from abortion and euthanasia to drugs and gambling.

The statement above was spoken by a student at Hamilton College in New York. “Professor Roger Simon … said that he has never met a student who denied the Holocaust happened,” Anderson writes. “But he also reported that 10 to 20 percent of his students cannot bring themselves to say that killing millions of people is wrong.”

If this isn’t an indictment of how modern society has deified “tolerance,” nothing is. What could illustrate the dangerous folly of moral relativism more perfectly than a student who can’t admit that mass murder is wrong -- not because of his feelings but because it’s a fact? A society of people who cannot condemn the Nazis is a society courting moral anarchy.

Anderson, the national director of Probe Ministries International, is well equipped to deliver the wake-up call that this student and his misguided peers need. An accomplished writer and speaker, as well as co-host of the popular radio show “Point of View” (heard on USA Radio Network), Anderson knows how to communicate effectively. His book is ideal for the time-pressed layman. As the title hints, “Christian Ethics in Plain Language” is succinct and accessible, which makes the job of being a Christian parent or teacher that much easier.

Take the chapter on abortion. In only 14 pages, Anderson gives us a history of this abhorrent practice, a brief description of the various abortion methods and an array of arguments against abortion -- biblical, philosophical and medical. Readers get a section titled “Answers to Pro-Abortion Rhetoric” and one on stem cell research. The chapter on drugs is similar, with a look at the various types of drugs and their effects, answers to pro-legalization arguments and a biblical perspective.

Parents will find the chapter on sexual ethics particularly helpful. It includes information on teen sexuality, school-based clinics and sex education. Anderson also marshals a variety of studies that show why condoms are far less effective than we’ve been led to believe -- and then explodes the so-called “comprehensive” approach to sex education with a telling quote from a New York Times reporter:

“I was sitting at a table with half a dozen 16-year-old girls, listening with some amazement as they showed off their knowledge of human sexuality. They knew how long sperm lived inside the body and how many women out of 100 using a diaphragm were statistically likely to get pregnant. One girl recited the steps of the ovulation cycle from day one to day twenty-eight. There was just one problem with this performance. Every one of the girls was pregnant.”

The lesson here is clear. Mere knowledge isn’t enough. It never has been, and it never will be. What matters is what we do with what we know. Return, for a moment, to the Nazi example: Does anyone doubt that Hitler and his minions were intelligent? No one calls them dumb. In fact, they combined their intelligence with a sickening moral depravity -- i.e., ignorance or indifference to fixed definitions of right and wrong -- to commit their heinous crimes.

It may seem like the height of sophistication to think that we can (or should) load our children with facts and figures and then leave it up to them to decide what’s right and wrong. In fact, it’s a moral abdication of our duties as parents. No, we can’t make our children see the truth. But we do them a grave disservice if we fail to show them, in word and deed, right from wrong on the most critical issues.

Even the best parent, of course, can use a little help -- and that’s where Anderson’s marvelous book comes in handy. But “Christian Ethics in Plain Language” isn’t just for parents; it’s for anyone looking for concise, well-documented answers to the pressing ethical questions of our day. Want to know what the Bible says about cohabitation? What the social effects of pornography are? How to respond to questions about capital punishment, artificial reproduction and genetic engineering? It’s all there.

“We need a clear understanding of the moral issues of our age,” Anderson writes. Mission accomplished.