“Dear Abby” Versus Biblical Morality

By Pastor Bruce K. Oyen

Holy Bible - This is God's Word: I Believe It

     Two very popular advice columns in newspapers are “Dear Abby,” and “Ann Landers.” I have read them with interest for years. Sometimes the advice is very good and practical, sometimes it is strongly objectionable. One reason I enjoy reading these columns is that they help me know what issues people struggle with in daily life, and for which they seek help.
     The “Dear Abby” column for Thursday, January 24, 2013, was especially interesting and significant. It is titled, “Unmarried Couple Doesn’t See Eye To Eye On Living Together.” The gist of it is that a woman in her 20’s has a boyfriend who wants them to live together before marriage. But she does not agree. She wrote, “I feel strongly that we should not live together before we are married.” Later in her letter, this woman wrote, “What can I say to Paul and friends who disagree with me to defend my ‘old-fashined’ logic?” Here is part of  Abby’s reply to this woman: “You are not the only person who feels this way. Many people with strong religious convictions feel the way you do about it. In my opinion, this is something that couples should work out between themselves.”
     It is clear from Abby’s reply that she does not believe there is an absolute moral standard to guide us on this matter. Many persons share her opinion, for we live in a culture that accepts moral relativism concerning some subjects. I say “some subjects,” because many moral relativists do believe that some things, such as theft and murder, are wrong.
     But let’s look at this from the perspective of historic Christianity. Historic Christianity believes the Bible to be what it, in fact, is: the infallible Word of God. We who hold this opinion believe that, because the Bible is the Word of God, what it says on moral issues is the final word on those issues. In other words, we believe that the Bible’s moral pronouncements are moral absolutes that apply to all persons, in all places, at all times. We are not guided by moral relativism, such as that given by Abby to the young woman quoted above. Rather, when we come to a moral issue, we ask if the Bible says anything definite about the subject. If it does, we apply it to daily life.
    Now, let’s apply this to the subject in the “Dear Abby” column referred to above, and let’s use a syllogism to do so. A syllogism has three parts: a major premise, a minor premise, and a conclusion. Here’s my syllogism for this subject:
  • Major premise: Whatever the Bible says is wrong, is wrong.
  • Minor premise: The Bible says premarital, extramarital, and homosexual sex are wrong.
  • Conclusion: Unmarried persons who are involved in sexual relationships are wrong.
    Those of us who know that the Bible is God’s infallible Word find that it simplifies life by giving us straight-forward information on many moral issues. But moral relativism leaves one somewhat like being in a sailboat on a windy lake with no one’s hand at the rudder. You are at the mercy of the prevailing winds of opinion. Who should you believe: Dear Abby? Ann Landers? Dad? Mom? Uncle Joe? Aunt Mary? The Pope? Pastor So-and-So? Yourself? Someone else?
    To learn what the Bible says on sexual matters, start by reading the fifteenth chapter of Matthew’s Gospel, the first chapter of Paul’s letter to the Romans, the fifth and sixth chapters of his first letter to the Corinthians, the fifth chapter of his letter to the Galatians, and the fifth chapter of his letter to the Ephesians. In each one of these chapters, we read that God condemns sexual sins, including premarital sex, which is fornication. Knowing that God prohibits premarital, extramarital, and homosexual sex, we don’t have to wonder if it is right or not for unmarried couples to live as though they are married. It isn’t right. It is wrong.
    Let me address one point related to this matter: is it okay for unmarried couples to live together for companionship, and to help one another with expenses, so long as they are not sexually involved with one another? 
    We must admit that this arrangement does not make one sexually immoral. But it does leave one’s morality open to question. Therefore, why set oneself up for misunderstanding? Why look like you live by the same relative morality as non-Christians? Christians should be very careful to not risk ruining their testimony for Christ. Also, why put oneself in a situation where it would be easy to give in to sexual temptation?
    Furthermore, when  unmarried Christian couples live together only for  companionship, and to share expenses, they can easily bring the credibility of their churches into question by making it look as though their churches allow their members to be involved in premarital sex.  Conscientious Christians  should not do this to their churches. Why make it so one’s church must explain to new attendees that it is not what it looks like? Why be in a living arrangement that requires you to explain to others it is not what it looks like?

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