Who Defines Moral Standard?

Who Defines Moral Standard?

by Dana Roberts


As I was talking with a friend not too long ago, she mentioned that one of her Facebook friends had ‘good morals’ because she posted ‘good’ recommendations for books and activities for children. ​​ Since then the question, “Who Defines Moral Standards?” has been on my mind. ​​ 

 Morality is defined as: 1) concerned with principles of right and wrong behavior and the goodness or badness of human character; 2) holding or manifesting high principles for proper conduct (ethical)1

 Moral character is defined as: virtuous, good, righteous, upright, upstanding, high-minded, principled, honest, just, noble, incorruptible, scrupulous, respectable, decent, clean-living, law-abiding2

 Virtuous? Good? Clean-living? Law-abiding? ​​ Where was the root of these definitions established? ​​ Who truly defines these? For the sake of this article, we will consider ‘social moral standard’ versus ‘God’s moral standard’.

 “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness. ​​ They will rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the livestock, all the earth, and the creatures that crawl on the earth. ​​ So God created man in His image; He created him in the image of God; He created them male and female.”3 ​​ “God saw all that He had made, and it was very good.”4 ​​ No man was created until God said it was to be so. ​​ God created everything (including man) in its original form and “it was good.” ​​ Thus, God also created a standard for ‘good’. Since He created everything into being, He also created morality under His standard.

 Social morality is in no way equivalent to God’s standard of morality. ​​ Social morality is created by man’s thought process. ​​ Man, left to his own thoughts leads to destruction! Sodom and Gomorrah could not be saved under social morals.5 ​​ Those who are untaught and unstable twist Scripture to their own destruction.6 ​​ Social morality is about saying, acting, and doing what one thinks is good. ​​ God’s morality is saying, acting, and doing what God says is good! ​​ Ask yourself, do I do what I want because I think it’s good or do I do what God wants because He says it’s good? ​​ 

 It is impossible to have true, objective morals without God. ​​ God clearly spoke all of His commandments setting His moral standard.7 ​​ In Romans 7, Paul says he wouldn’t have known sin if it were not for God’s law.8 ​​ We would not know there is a difference between social morals and God’s morals if God hadn’t set His standard of goodness before us. ​​ Praise God that He did! ​​ May I encourage you in this: whatever you see, hear, or read, be diligent to bring it to God’s Word so that you will know you are accepting something God has said is good or rejecting something God has said is evil. ​​ 

 Social moral standard does not have a solid reference which one can firmly plant a belief of morality. ​​ Creator God has given His Word, the Bible, as a solid reference to follow His moral standard. ​​ He holds all authority over morality. ​​ You, a Christ-Follower, may be thinking, “I believe in God and His Son, Jesus, but I don’t know my Bible well enough to depict all Scripture relating to God’s moral standard.” ​​ Well, my friend, as we all continue to read and study His Word, we grow and ground ourselves in His moral standard, understanding that He has created it for our own well-being. ​​ Also, join a trustworthy Bible study, ask a godly mentor to guide you in Bible knowledge, and reach out to your pastor! ​​ 

 We understand from Romans that all human beings intuitively (conscientiously) know God’s law9, but because of the fall in the Garden of Eden, we now tend to twist His law so that it fits our own personal thoughts. ​​ What happens when we depend on social moral thinking such as, “that sounds good or that looks good”? ​​ The answer is we forget about God’s moral standard! ​​ “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”10 ​​ We abandon God, set aside His Word, and are easily deceived and then stray. ​​ Isaiah warns us we are like sheep who stray and go our own way!11 ​​ May we also heed these words: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths. ​​ Don’t consider yourself wise; fear the Lord and turn away from evil.”12

 In conclusion of the Facebook story, the bottom line is: when we hear someone has “good morals”, we must evaluate what they say by comparing it with God’s moral standard. ​​ Are your Facebook friends speaking Truth and professing God’s morals through their posts, or are they merely displaying social morals? ​​ 

 One last bit of encouragement: Practice God’s Moral Standard! ​​ How? ​​ Abide in Him and Test the Spirits (read and study 1 John), Grow in Faith (read and study 2 Peter 1:3-11), and Guard Your Heart and Mind (read and study Philippians 4:6-8). ​​ 


Please note: This article is written from the stand point of a Christ-Follower and to other Christ-Followers. ​​ Any questions or arguments risen from non-believers are to be addressed in a separate writing, as a single article can not cover all aspects. ​​ 




​​ New Oxford American Dictionary ​​ Version 2.2.2 (203.1)


​​ ibid.


​​ Genesis 1: 26-27


​​ Genesis 1:31a


​​ Genesis 18:16-19:29


​​ 2 Peter 3:14ff


​​ Exodus 20:1-17


​​ Romans 7:7


​​ Romans 2:12-16


​​ Judges 17:6


​​ Isaiah 53:6


​​ Proverb 3:5-7