Romans 1 and natural desires / functions

warning.gifIn Romans 1 and temple prostitutes I addressed the myth that the homosexual sins mentioned in Romans 1 were really just about temple prostitutes. 

Another argument pro-gay theologians try to use against the clear and emphatic teaching of Romans 1 is that it is only sinful when people act outside their sexual desires.  That is, if you have heterosexual desires but go and deliberately have homosexual sex then you are sinning.  If you have homosexual desires with homosexual sex that is OK.  But if you have homosexual desires and have heterosexual sex then that is a sin. 

As you might have guessed, that is a poor argument.

Who has consensual sex with someone without the desire for it?  For men, it would be virtually impossible from a physical standpoint.  Some think that prostitutes don’t have the desire, but that view was debunked in the link above and Romans 1 makes it clear that both parties are fully responsible and are sinning. 

And if everyone just follows their natural desires when it comes to sex, to whom is Paul speaking?  There would be no one to talk to!  And wouldn’t anyone charged with this sin just claim to be bisexual? 

And the born that way argument is irrelevant.  Even if it were true, predispositions don’t excuse behavior.  And this view would assume that the Holy Spirit wasn’t aware of this alleged genetic link.

The main problem for the pro-gay theologians is that the original Greek says that they abandoned their natural functions, not their natural desires.  Romans 1 mentions three times that “God gave them over . . .”  He gave them over to these desires.  They burned in desire for one another, so they weren’t acting outside their desires.  But they weren’t using their natural functions.  Read this carefully:

Romans 1:26-27 (NASB95) For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural,  and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.

Some people try to say that function is synonymous with desire, and that the gays “function” as gays so they are doing what comes naturally.  But this view requires that you ignore the plain meaning of function plus the part of v. 27 that says “the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another . . .” 

There is no way around this.  No matter how hard people try to twist it, this passage is about people abandoning the opposite sex for same-sex partners.   It is very tightly and clearly written – almost as if God anticipated all the arguments that would be brought against this passage today.

Homosexual behavior is rebellion against God.  Heterosexuals who help rationalize this behavior (and any other sins) join in the sin.

Romans 1:32 (NASB95) and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.

God’s way is the best way.  I plead with anyone involved with this to trust Jesus to help you overcome your false beliefs. 

Does that mean heterosexuals should grandstand on this sin because it isn’t a temptation for them?  Of course not.  We should defend the truth of the Bible against false teachers, but we should also teach that all sexual sin is sin, and that we are all sinners in need of  a Savior. 

Also see Romans 1 and homosexuality and Paul, Romans and Homosexuality by Greg Koukl of Stand to Reason.

71 thoughts on “Romans 1 and natural desires / functions”

  1. No neil, you didn’t “annihilate” that argument. Bubba made a fallacious comparison, which you’ve repeated on another site.

    Neil said: Yes, we did. Once again, saying there is no God isn’t a little different than saying there is one God. It is the opposite. You try to imply they are just a little different. It is a cute argument, but totally wrong.

    “The God Delusion” is not a philosophy book. If it was, member of the general public wouldn’t have understood the arguments. If it caused people to think about their cherished beliefs, and perhaps research further, then I think it had served it purpose.

    Stating that “the majority of people believe in God, and you’re just working out the details” is disingenuous.

    Neil said: Sigh. It is only disingenuous if you misunderstand my point. That isn’t our argument, Havok. It is the logical consequence of your argument. Your point was that the majority of people don’t agree on precisely what God is, so therefore atheism is true. My point was that with fallacious reasoning like that then there must be a God. After all, the majority of people think there is one.

    But that isn’t my argument. I was just pointing out what I saw as the logical flaw of yours.

    The different entities which are referred to as “God” by differing religions have vastly different desires, requirements and attributes, sometimes mutually exclusive.
    The only thing you have in common is you use the word “God”.
    Theology seems to result in a nebulous conception of “God”. A non-interventionist “thing” which is the essence of good and started the whole ball rolling. The whole “First cause” from the cosmological argument, which bears no resemblance to a god of any religion.

    Neil said: Agreed. The first cause and other arguments (morality, truth, logic, etc.) show that the evidence strongly points to a God. Step two is the question of if/how that God revealed himself to us. To say that He bears no resemblance to a God of any religion is false.

    When there is a lot of evidence which backs up a position – ie. Evolution through natural selection, then following the consensus of experts is reasonable.
    In the absence of both evidence and consensus of experts, it is reasonable to not hold any position.

    Neil said: Lots of evidence for natural selection? Micro, yes. Macro, no. If macro was true we’d have an endless supply of fossil evidence, among other things. We don’t.

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  2. We have no fossil evidence of macro evolution. Reason: It didn’t happen. There is an endless supply of creation occuring just the way the Bible says it does, though. It is amazing and blows me away to see how it all matches up.

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  3. Neil said: Your point was that the majority of people don’t agree on precisely what God is, so therefore atheism is true.

    No, my argument is that the majority of people don’t agree on what god is so atheism (“I don’t know”) is a reasonable position. I’m not saying there is no possibility of any god existing, we simply have insufficient grounds to believe in any particular one believed currently.
    You’re the one misinterpreting that argument.

    Neil said: But why would a majority of people have to agree? Christianity specifically says that the majority won’t believe. Once again, the Bible is right.

    Neil said: To say that He bears no resemblance to a God of any religion is false.

    So, how exactly does the non-interventionist, non-personal “god”, which is the result of much theological thinking resemble the very interventionist and very personal God of Christianity?

    Neil said: I thought you were referring the creator God part. Sorry if I misunderstood.

    Neil said: Lots of evidence for natural selection? Micro, yes. Macro, no. If macro was true we’d have an endless supply of fossil evidence, among other things. We don’t.

    Elisa said: We have no fossil evidence of macro evolution. Reason: It didn’t happen. There is an endless supply of creation occuring just the way the Bible says it does, though. It is amazing and blows me away to see how it all matches up.

    Ok, lets go through this again:
    – Speciation has been observed
    – Many so called “transitional” fossils have been found.

    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-speciation.html
    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-transitional.html

    Simply ignoring or denying the evidence doesn’t make it go away.

    Neil said: That’s funny, because some of your leaders have conceded the fossil issue. Stephen Gould did so. He was the creative one who endorsed the puncuated equilibrium fantasy. Now that was un-scientific.

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  4. Neil said: But why would a majority of people have to agree? Christianity specifically says that the majority won’t believe. Once again, the Bible is right.

    It would seem many if not most Religions contain these sorts of “immune responses”. It’s probably the best way to ensure the religion is continued. How about I write a book about the invisible pink unicorn, and include the same style of argument? My IPU book is right.

    Neil said: Havok, are you misunderstanding on purpose? I’m merely pointing out the logical conclusions to your arguments and how they fail.

    Neil said: That’s funny, because some of your leaders have conceded the fossil issue. Stephen Gould did so. He was the creative one who endorsed the puncuated equilibrium fantasy. Now that was un-scientific.

    “According to modern evolutionary theory, all populations of organisms are in transition and a “transitional form” is a recognition of a form that vividly represents a particular evolutionary stage.”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transitional_fossil

    “Punctuated equilibrium is a theory in evolutionary biology. It states that most sexually reproducing populations will show little change for most of their geological history, and that when phenotypic evolution does occur, it is localized in rare, rapid events of branching speciation (called cladogenesis).”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Punctuated_equilibrium
    Doesn’t seem like a “fantasy” to me. It may not fit the data, but it is still science.

    Seriously, a very small amount of reading would suffice here Neil.

    Neil said: Come on, Havok. There is NO evidence for punctuated equilibrium. It is a desperate “science of the gaps” solution and an embarrassment to your position. Talk about blind faith.

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  5. Neil said: Come on, Havok. There is NO evidence for punctuated equilibrium. It is a desperate “science of the gaps” solution and an embarrassment to your position. Talk about blind faith.

    And here I thought we were discussing “transitional” fossils. Since you didn’t comment on that part, I take it you now accept that “transitional” fossils have been found, which along with observed speciation, shows that macro-evolution occurs, as predicted by the theory of evolution.

    Misrepresenting Gould, and attempting to discredit him for working on “punctuated equilibrium” does not work in your favour.
    I’m not a biologist, so I don’t know the current thinking regarding “punctuated equilibrium”, or the changing rate of evolution (which it is basically an extreme example of).
    You’re caliming to know something about it, so perhaps you could enlighten us as to what the current state of knowledge in that regard is? Or are you simply making statements from ignorance?
    Regardless of whether it has been discredited through lack of supporting evidence or not, “punctuated equilibrium” is still valid science.

    Neil said: Valid science? You’re kidding, right? The link itself identifies how fanciful it is and how your hero, Dawkins, disagrees with it (which, accordingly to your logic on religious disagreements must be another example of why macro-evolution isn’t true). Punctuated equilibrium is obviously a desperate attempt to keep the theory alive despite the problem with the fossil evidence.

    Stephen J. Gould said, “The evolutionary trees that adorn our textbooks have data only at the tips and nodes of their branches; the rest is inference, however reasonable, not the evidence of fossils.”

    Comments are welcome on this thread provided they are back on the original topic.

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  6. So in summary then I’m an atheist who believes in god? And because I’m am atheist this means that I do not in fact have a worldview. My friends are gonna spin out when I tell them. God knows I am… or does he?

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  7. Neil,
    I think it was me that started Havok down this road of aetheistic Hindu’s and such. I asked for an explanation and thanks to his (her?) reply and subsequent notes, I understand the meaning. My bad if I stirred up something that should have been settled. I’ll accept 40 lashes on Wednesday if that suits.

    Havok,
    I took a college level philosophy course when I was in high school, I must’ve heard Pascal’s wager back then. I know the course was enough to mess up my head for a long time.

    Bottom line, I can’t prove God exists and you (or anyone else) can’t prove he doesn’t. As Heinlein said, soon enough, we’ll both know for sure.

    You asked “Aren’t you worried you chose the wrong God and beliefs?” – No, I’m not. It’s a chance I’m willing to make (too bad Pascal didn’t {although my memory says that he may have philosophozed himself back like I eventually did})

    How did you manage to choose the right god and beliefs, when the majority of humanity has got it so wrong? – Can’t answer that. Call it luck, call it Providence (a term I like), call it grace (another good one). Call it anything you like, just call me with the trumpet and I’ll be happy.

    Actually, the Scriptures say that all creations calls witness to His existence, so the Hindus, Muslims and yes, even the athesists have no excuse. I think it’s something about the narrow gate and straight way that complicates things for so many.

    And regarding your comment that death is the end, I say how sad for humanity and what a waste. If all we have is what is here, what’s the purpose? There are many times that I would have just given up. Don’t get me wrong, I have a great life. But it’s only because of what He has done for me. I’ve seen His hand in my life, picking me up when life knocked me down, so many times that there’s no way I can question His existence. If you’re interested, email me and I’ll tell you more. Follow the link from my name in the comments to my blog, view my profile and you can get my email address.

    Even if you don’t email me, continue to follow Neil’s posts. As long as you admit the possibility of God, He can speak to you and Neil is as good as anyone to be a conduit. Sure, he’s a fundie and like the rest of us fundies (many of whom respond here), he gets a little touchy sometimes, but that’s only because we care. Like one person said, we’re like beggars telling other beggars where to find a loaf of bread. If we didn’t try to convince you our faith was right, I’d wonder about our faith to begin with.

    Neil,
    Thanks for letting Havok play havoc (HA! I waited for that Chance!) with your blog. And thanks for sticking to the Truth. Your post has meant a lot to me this past year and I look forward to next year as well.

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  8. Quickly, so as not to derail the thread again:-
    Neil:
    Disagrements and incorrect hypothesis are strengths of the scientific process.
    Macro-evolution has been observed. No need to consult the fossil record for that.

    Neil said: We’ll have to revisit that (or you can blog on it yourself). When lots of your own experts concede the fossil problem you won’t get away by citing such a tiny amount of questionable evidence. “Nothing to see here folks, just move along and accept what the Darwinists tell you . . .” 🙂

    Duane:
    Atheism doesn’t provide a worldview. An atheist will have a world view.
    Randy:
    It’s been fun, though Havoc was not my intent 🙂

    On Topic:
    Assuming God doesn’t exist (as I do), is there any harm in homosexual behaviour?
    Is it spiritual harm (sin), which you assume exists, the issue?

    As I see it, the only problem you folk can have with homosexuality comes from references within the bible describing it as sinful/deviant.

    Neil said: Not so. There are a host of other problems (mainly medical – http://americansfortruth.com/news/truly-scaaary-%e2%80%98gay%e2%80%99-health-quotes-2nd-annual-halloween-edition.html – the libs want to tell 2 yr. olds on up how wonderful and normal the behavior is but forget to tell them the drawbacks).

    But most Christians I know take a live-and-let-live approach. As long as the pro-gay crowd isn’t trying to violate our 1st Amendment rights or shove the gay agenda down the throats of us and our kids then they can do what they like. They can get married today. Whole industries are set up to help them set up house. Apostate churches will marry them. They just don’t need gov’t recognition, because the main reason gov’t gets involved in the marriage equation at all is that heterosexual unions, by nature and design, bring about the next generation. You’d think gays wouldn’t want the gov’t to have to sanction their relationships.

    Assuming God doesn’t exist (as you do), is there any sexual behavior you see as universally immoral? Animals/humans, parents/children, polygamy, etc.? Take your time in responding because you’ll need to provide a foundation for morality first. You can’t just skip that part and go by societal norms, because some societies might approve of the actions and as we’ve seen in the U.S., societal norms can change. And you can’t use the “perpetuation of the species” angle, because you would first have to prove that is a universal moral good.

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  9. Havok, if you assume God doesn’t exist, what can you use for a basis of right/wrong? Someone in another blog post said there was reference material, but never gave any specifics. How can you know that the reference material is right?

    As a Christian, the Bible is my reference book (and so much more). Whenever there is a question about anything, I go back and look at God’s written Word. When the Word doesn’t explain completely, I spend time talking the the Living Word. Generally, He points me to the written Word, showing me that He has already answered the question.

    I’ve also found that by knowing Him, I’m better able to interpret His Word. I find that He has placed His answers throughout His Word if I will only look.

    I should also say I use His word in a negative way. I think Neil is probably glad that there are those of us who continue to keep him on the straight path. I always check anything anyone says against the Word. if they disagree with the Word, I know the Truth and can correct their errors.

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  10. Neil, I won’t get into the basis of morality. A search for “evolutionary basis for morality”, or similar, should get you started.

    Where I am (Australia) gay civil unions are not recognized as equal to hetero marriages in many ways, not least of which the rights of one party upon the death of the other. This imbalance what gay marriage issue seeks to redress.

    Neil said: That’s an example of where we can find some agreement, I think. I’m sympathetic to the hospital visitation and estate issues, for example. Estate taxes are ghoulish (bad things happen when the gov’t profits from your death). They should be abolished. I think if those were the real issues then some good progress could be made that could help the gay folks without forcing schoolkids to be told how good and normal the lifestyle is. But in my experience they don’t want tolerance, they want affirmation.

    Randy, I use my moral sense. You believe this comes from God, yet there is a lot of good scientific research being done which is showing an evolutionary basis for our moral sense.

    Neil said: I am highly skeptical that the research will prove our “moral sense” as you call it, but keep in mind that even if it did then it would just be proving a phantom morality. What you can never do is provide a philosophical basis for “real” morality in a molecules-to-man scenario. Never.

    Since I addressed your queries, I’d still appreciate an answer to this piece:

    Assuming God doesn’t exist (as you do), is there any sexual behavior you see as universally immoral? Animals/humans, parents/children, polygamy, etc.? Take your time in responding because you’ll need to provide a foundation for morality first. You can’t just skip that part and go by societal norms, because some societies might approve of the actions and as we’ve seen in the U.S., societal norms can change. And you can’t use the “perpetuation of the species” angle, because you would first have to prove that is a universal moral good.

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  11. “Assuming God doesn’t exist (as you do), is there any sexual behavior you see as universally immoral?”

    As a fellow atheist I can answer emphatically NO.

    There are no sexual acts, which in and of themselves, are immoral. Consequences to ANY sexual act may be either moral or immoral (does it affect others negatively, does it serve to increase happiness or decrease suffering). The basis for this decision is the same that we use for all other moral decisions — we use our biologically derived “framework” given to us by evolutionary processes. This framework acts altruistically to benefit the species, or is based on utilitarianism (which serves the greater good and causes the least amount of suffering). This ethical decision making is hardly unique to humans. Altruist behavior is observed in many other species. Humans may be unique, however, in that we have the ability to think abstractly and act under a utilitarian ethic. We also have the ability to feel empathy for others which affects our ethical decision making (as we can imagine the consequences of our actions on others).

    Neil said: I appreciate the honesty but not the logic. Thanks for being on record as admitting your worldview could not describe any sex acts as immoral. And thanks for proving my point once again that every attempt at “proving” a philosophical explanation for morality in a molecules-to-man worldview has to sneak morality in the back door.

    Here’s where you did it: “This framework acts altruistically to benefit the species, or is based on utilitarianism (which serves the greater good and causes the least amount of suffering).”

    But you need to prove why benefiting a species is a moral good. Species die all the time. In your view thousands died before humans showed up. How was that moral or immoral?

    You reference a “greater good” and minimizing suffering but can’t explain the source of those either, either.

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  12. “As for hospital visitation and medical rights decisions, this too can be done with a simple form.”

    I agree!! That simple form is called a marriage certificate.

    Neil said: Yes, and they can get one as soon as they get married (Marriage = a union of a man and a woman).

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  13. “And thanks for proving my point once again that every attempt at “proving” a philosophical explanation for morality in a molecules-to-man worldview has to sneak morality in the back door.”

    Huh? Death is neither moral or immoral. However, given that we all have a biologically derived impetus to survive we act accordingly. Your argument breaks down rather quickly. Thanks for trying though.

    Neil said: You said, “This framework acts altruistically to benefit the species . . .” which I inferred was perpetuating the species. You just noted a biologically derived impetus to survive so I think I inferred correctly. If I was wrong then I’m not sure what else you meant by “benefit,” but feel free to clarify.

    People might benefit by doing all sorts of things that most consider immoral.

    Here’s more on the philosophical problem of evolving morals – http://www.str.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=5458

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  14. Neil said: What you can never do is provide a philosophical basis for “real” morality in a molecules-to-man scenario. Never.

    What do you mean by “real” morality? Can you provide any evidence for it’s existence?

    Neil said: Perhaps not with your limited and biased standards of what evidence is. I think it is always immoral to kill people just because they are atheists. Can I prove that empirically? Perhaps not.

    Just read Dawkins and watch how many moral claims he makes. I’ll concede that his thinking is not particularly clear. Perhaps every claim he makes about right and wrong (and all the comments from atheists who think it is wrong to teach ID, wrong to teach religion to children, wrong to say homosexuality is a sin, wrong to say abortion is evil, etc.) is just bad evolutional wiring.

    But there do seem to be some universal morals. I’m not aware of any cultures where torturing babies for fun isn’t considered immoral. And as C.S. Lewis noted, in no culture are people who run away from battle considered heroes.

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  15. My standards of evidence are “biased” towards objectivity and away from subjectivity. If we allow subjectivity to dictate what is real, the guy in the mental hospital who thinks he is Napoleon is actually Napoleon. All Gods which have ever been imagined are real. Astrology predicts the future etc.

    Neil said: and all the comments from atheists who think it is wrong to teach ID,wrong to teach religion to children, wrong to say homosexuality is a sin, wrong to say abortion is evil

    – [OT] It is incorrect to teach ID as science – it is not a scientific theory. Teach it in philosophy or religious instruction if you have to teach it.
    – [OT] I think it is wrong to teach religion to children as Truth, when no evidence of such exists. Comparative religious studies would be good however.

    Neil said: Lots of evidence exists – first cause, morality, fulfilled prophecies in the Bible, universal laws of logic and more. You just ignore it and create a biased worldview where only empirical data is allowed, even though you can’t prove empirically why that should be true. We’re going in circles here, so we might want to wind this one down or just wait for another thread.

    And how would you convince me that I should I care if you think something is wrong? Nothing personal, but your own worldview says there are no universal morals.

    – Homosexuality is a sin to you because of your moral framework.

    Neil said: But you say it is wrong (i.e., immoral) to say that homosexuality is wrong.

    – [OT] Abortion isn’t evil. It is however a moral and ethical quagmire.

    Neil said: Abortion is psychologically complex, to be sure, but not morally complex. If it isn’t evil then crushing and dismembering human beings outside the womb isn’t immoral, either. There is absolutely nothing in a materialistic worldview to distinguish between the two, morally speaking. It is merely a matter of the age and location of a living human being.

    And how can you even say it is a moral quagmire?

    Neil said: I’m not aware of any cultures where torturing babies for fun isn’t considered immoral.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Child_sacrifice

    The sacrifice of children has been done for “moral” reasons – the God or Gods being appeased have demanded it. The attempted sacrifice of Isaac by Abraham was a moral act because Yahweh demanded it.
    Is it considered moral today – no.
    I think this shows that your supposed “universal morality” doesn’t exist, as morals have changed over time, even though the lessons in the Bible haven’t.

    Neil said: I think you misunderstood my point. Child sacrifice is wrong, but as evil as it is they at least had a warped purpose. My example was just torturing them for fun – not for religious reasons, to appease false gods, etc.

    The funny thing is that not only are you wrong about universal morals, you don’t even realize the logical conclusion if you are right. You actually seem to think that would be a good thing to have morals based on whoever is in power or majority rules.

    And, of course, the endless moral claims by atheists make no sense whatsoever inside their worldview.

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  16. One quick point on the evidence question. Every religion claims the same ground as you do. All have claims of some supernatural interference, with the same sort of evidence (personal testimony, historical documents etc), and the same lack of empirical evidence to back up those claims. Every claim you make to support your beliefs (prophecies fulfilled, first cause, miracles, etc) can be made by members of other religions to support their beliefs.

    Neil said: Hi Havok, I agree with some of that. But you may have noticed that I haven’t appealed to personal testimony. I have also approached this in a two-step manner: 1) There is a lot of evidence for the existence of God and 2) Once we’ve established that, the evidence is overwhelming for the God of the Bible (Yes, I know you disagree on both counts and only consider empirical evidence).

    In the absence of any empirical evidence in support of any of the claims of the various religions, I can’t see how any rational decision can be made.
    Since we’re going round in circles, I’ll leave it there.

    As for claims of a “universal morality”. As BrianC stated on another blog:
    “The meaning and morality (both with lower case m’s), that give our lives purpose must be hammered out by ourselves. More complicated than hooking up to some pre-prepared menu of do’s and don’ts, but it really is where the evidence takes the ruthlessly rational thinker.”
    If the evidence leads in one direction, anything else is ultimately wishful thinking.

    Neil said: I’ll concede that BrianC can be wrong on two blogs at once ;-). If he is truly a ruthlessly rational thinker he’ll end up with a different set of views. Universal morals exist, but even if they didn’t the end result of “individual morals” would be “morality” defined by those in power and/or the majority. As the Book of Judges mentioned several times, “everyone did what was right in their own eyes.” Bad things happen when we go that route, and there is tons of evidence for that.

    Thanks for the dialogue, and catch you on another thread.

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