Empirical evidence indicates that all humans do not have the same sense of what is morally right and what is morally wrong.  This helps to explain why there are significant differences in how people behave, including not only their actions, but also their thoughts and their speech.

So, if humans do not agree as to what is morally right and what is morally wrong, can there be moral absolutes?  The answer to this question is that it is necessary for people to rely on a source other than themselves to determine what are genuine moral absolutes.  And, the only source that can know what are genuine moral absolutes is an omniscient (i.e., all-knowing) Supreme Being who is referred to by both Christians and Jews as God.  He has revealed in the Bible the moral standards that people should follow.

Probably, the most important moral standard taught in the Bible is that we should love not only God, but also every person, including our enemies (Matthew 5:43-44a).  However, it is evident that many, if not most, people do not demonstrate genuine love to a lot of other people with whom they come in contact in various circumstances, and they certainly have little, if any, love for their enemies.  [For a discussion of what the Bible states regarding loving everyone, click on “Are Christians Supposed to Love Everyone?]

God has also provided a number of other moral standards that are recorded in the Bible.  And, like the standard regarding love, relatively few people conduct themselves according to these other moral standards.

Certainly, when the Bible and the laws of our society agree as to what is right and what is wrong regarding moral behavior, there should be no doubt about whether a person should or should not engage in such behaviors.  But, what if the Bible and the laws of our society disagree as to the rectitude of a particular behavior, or what if the Bible does not indicate whether or not a certain behavior is morally right or wrong?

Even if most of the people in a society believe that engaging in a particular behavior is alright, they may not be correct.  Furthermore, the majority of people in a society may vacillate as to what they believe is right and what they think is wrong.  In this regard, we will consider three notable examples of the vacillating of our society as to what is right and what is wrong.

  • Until the Emancipation Proclamation was passed in January 1863, slavery was legal in our nation, despite the wording of our Declaration of Independence, which states that “all Men are created equal.”
  • Before the so-called “Prohibition Amendment” to our Constitution went into effect in January 1920, the “manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors” was legal throughout our nation. The Amendment made these practices illegal.  Then, in December 1933, the repeal of this Amendment made engaging in these practices legal again.
  • Prior to the decriminalization of abortion in 1973, abortion was illegal everywhere in our nation. Then in 2022, abortion again became no longer legal on a national basis, but each state was allowed to decide whether or not to permit abortions.

These three issues illustrate that what our society determines is right or wrong is subject to changes in the notions of our society and, therefore, a number of our society’s laws regarding what is morally right and what is morally wrong have mutated over the years.  And, given the increasing liberalism in our society, it is likely that more of the concepts of what is morally wrong will change in the future (i.e., immoral behaviors that are currently regarded as unacceptable will become acceptable).

So, how can a person determine with a high degree of certainty what is morally right and what is morally wrong?  As previously implied, we believe that the Bible is generally the best guide in assessing what is morally right and what is morally wrong.  So, we will now consider what the Bible says about the previously mentioned three issues.

[Note:  When we quote Scripture in this article, we use the wording in the New King James Version of the Bible.]

With regard to slavery, the Bible neither condones nor condemns it.   However, as previously indicated, the Bible does instruct Christians to love everyone.  Therefore, if we genuinely love other people as the Bible instructs, we will not treat them harshly, like many people in our society previously treated slaves.  [To read a discourse regarding what the Bible says about slavery, click on “Does the Bible Condone Slavery?]

In reference to intoxicating liquors (i.e., alcoholic beverages), the Bible states in Romans 14:21, “ It is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak.”  (Probably, the meat to which this scripture refers is meat that previously has been offered to idols.)   The basic concern of this scripture is to avoid doing things that may have a negative influence on other people.  In contrast, John 2:1-10 indicates that Jesus Christ made some type of wine (presumably, with little or no alcoholic content) for guests to drink at a wedding that He was attending before He began His formal ministry.   And, 1 Timothy 5:23 infers that it is all right to drink wine for medicinal purposes.  In this scripture, Paul tells Timothy, “No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for your stomach’s sake and your frequent infirmities.”  Therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that the Bible indicates that drinking alcoholic beverages is alright if it does not result in drunkenness of the person who is imbibing or cause other people to be hindered in their spiritual life.

As for abortion, the Bible does not address this specific issue.  However, the Bible does condemn murder (see Exodus 20:13; Numbers 35:16-19, 21, 30-31; Deuteronomy 5:17; Matthew 5:21; etc.), so if God regards a newly conceived fetus as a person, abortions may be deemed by God to be murder, with possibly some exceptions, such as when the life of the unborn child’s mother would be jeopardized by a continuing pregnancy.  [For a dialogue regarding whether or not abortion is wrong, click on “Is It Wrong to Have an Abortion?]

In addition to the aforementioned national laws, a number of state and local laws that previously punished immoral behavior have been repealed or are now generally either ignored or not strictly enforced.  This includes laws against adultery, fornication, and homosexual practices.  All of these practices are condemned in the Bible.  [For a discussion of sexual matters that the Bible condemns, click on “Uncertainties Regarding Sexual Matters.”]

One other immoral behavior that we will discuss is pornography, which has become pervasive in modern society.  Pornography is found in virtually every medium, including books, magazines, the Internet, movies, and television.  Although the Bible does not specifically address pornography, it does address lust, which can be aroused by pornography.  In Matthew 5:28, Jesus Christ asserts, “I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”  And, the seventh of the Ten Commandments forbids adultery.


People who do not accept the validity of the moral teachings of the Bible may think that there are few, if any, moral absolutes.  And, because the Bible does not specifically address a number of moral issues, including abortion, pornography, drug abuse, and other moral issues that are prevalent in modern society, there may be people who believe that it is alright to engage in such behaviors.  Also, because many of the morality laws of our society have either been rescinded or become increasingly lax, many people who do not rely on the Bible to provide moral guidelines do not have a reliable moral compass to enable them to determine what is right and what is wrong.

Nevertheless, because God is the omnipotent, omniscient Creator of the universe, He has the authority and the prerogative to determine which behaviors are right and which are wrong.  [To determine what the Bible says about God’s omnipotence and omniscience, click on “Is God Really Omnipotent and Omniscient?]

Those who do not attempt to live according to the moral standards recorded in the Bible would be wise to give ample consideration to Revelation 20:11-13, which indicates that every person will eventually be held accountable to God for their moral behavior, even if they unintentionally violate biblical moral standards.  [For a discussion of unintentional sins, click on “Unintentional Sins.”]

For anyone who sincerely wants to know what is morally right and what is morally wrong, there is sufficient biblical evidence to believe that God will give that person the understanding they need, if they earnestly pray for God to give them such understanding.  One of the scriptures that support this belief is Proverbs 3:5-6, which declares, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths.”  In other words, people who sincerely trust God can depend on Him to help them to know what they should do – or not do – with regard to their moral behavior.

In any case, it is extremely important to understand that even the best efforts of people to do what is morally right are not sufficient to provide assurance that they will have eternal salvation.  For a person to be assured of eternal salvation, he (or she)  must genuinely trust in Jesus Christ as their Savior.  [For a detailed explanation of how to be assured of eternal salvation, click on “What Must a Person Do to Be Assured of Eternal Salvation?]