Darrow Miller and Friends

The Implications of Moral Freedom

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  2. How Homosexuality Became Normal in the West
  3. How Evolutionists Explain Poverty
  4. Lies Enslave, Truth Transforms
  5. Human Evil, Cosmic Consequences
  6. NURTURING: The Wonder of Being There
  7. Personal God, Personal Creation
  8. The Implications of Moral Freedom
  9. Work, Save, Give: The Protestant Ethic
  10. Three Ways God’s Universe Makes Sense
  11. HOME SCHOOLING: Why It Makes Sense Today
  12. Christianity is True Even If You Don’t Believe It!
  13. Moral God, Moral Universe
  14. What Do Singapore and Apple Have in Common?
  15. God’s Laws, the “Secret” to Life
  16. Time Matters: Present, Past, Future
  17. The Doctrine of the Trinity Matters in Real Life?
  18. Two Fronts in the War of the Century

“The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the Lord God commanded the man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die’” (Gen. 2:15–17).

Secularists believe that man is a machine, an automaton, a being with no free will. His choices are biologically determined. Animists believe that man is dominated by outside forces. But the Bible and our nature reveal that man was given moral freedom to make choices—significant choices.

We have real freedom. We face real choices with genuine consequences. Man is the proactive creator of history, not an inactive fatalist or reactive responder. In contrast to Hinduism and Buddhism, which hold that “man enters the water and makes no ripples,” theism teaches that man enters the water and makes ripples that go on forever. C.S. Lewis states, “Good and evil both increase at compound interest. That is why the little decisions you and I make every day are of such infinite importance.”[i]

In Genesis 3:1–7 we read the tragic story of the fall of humanity. Instead of being content as God’s creatures, in Adam we chose to challenge him, breaking our primary relationship with our Creator. This rebellion poisoned all our secondary relationships—psychological, social, and even ecological.

The misuse of moral freedom brought evil into the world

Worse, Adam and Eve died spiritually when they ate the forbidden fruit (Gen. 2:17). Paul says we were “dead in [our] transgressions and sins” (Eph. 2:1) before Christ saved us. Physical death was another consequence. Man was denied the tree of life because of his disobedience (Gen. 3:24). Moral evil also insidiously entered man, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).

Man’s rebellion led to the coming of evil into the world in three forms: personal-moral evil rooted deeply in each human being, natural evil, and institutional evil. Evil is not just “the absence of good,” as secularists believe. It exists independently because we invited it here. Secularism, therefore, cannot really address the challenge of evil. David Aikman reflects on the evil unleashed on Cambodia during the Khmer Rouge’s reign of terror:

In the West today, there is a pervasive consent to the notion of moral relativism, a reluctance to admit that absolute evil can and does exist. This makes it especially difficult for some to accept the fact that the Cambodian experience is something far worse than a revolutionary aberration. Rather, it is the deadly logical consequence of an atheistic, man-centered system of values, enforced by fallible human beings with total power. . . . By no coincidence the most humane Marxist societies in Europe today are those that, like Poland or Hungary, permit the dilution of their doctrine by what Solzhenitsyn has called “the great reserves of mercy and sacrifice” from a Christian tradition.[ii]

Moral freedom is normal in God’s creation; evil is not

Yet we need to remember that, in a very real sense, evil is abnormal. God did not create an evil world. He hates evil and stands against it. Man opened the flood gates that allowed evil to grow; now God calls on man to fight against it. He is to obey God and rebel against Satan, who is the temporary “god of this world.” Man is to discipline his personal life against moral evil, challenge the dominion of personal evil, and fight against the ravages of natural and institutional evil by feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and setting the oppressed free. How unlike animism, which sees evil as normal!

Is stealing wrong? In an amoral system, it depends. Without God, everything is permitted. An immoral world assumes a moral standard that has been violated, but an amoral world is one without a moral standard. Everyone does what is right in their own eyes. Abortion is just a “choice,” without consequences (except to the baby and all those affected by the void that lost human life was meant to fill); militant jihadists must be “understood” in their context; and so on.

When the full effects of secularism play out we will have the end of moral man and civil society. Instead of civilization, we will have anarchy and, eventually, tyranny. And we are well on the way. The endless stories of gangs brutalizing joggers, mothers killing their babies and doctors killing their patients (with or without their consent), well-dressed thugs trafficking girls and young women … all these have inoculated us to the shock we should feel.

Hinduism considers good and evil equal

Animism similarly rejects the moral order of the universe. Animists have fled from the righteous and holy Creator to a multitude of gods who act arbitrarily, on their own inscrutable whims—the perfect models of corrupt power.

Hinduism and other animist religions today fuse good and evil. Indira Gandhi, India’s third prime minister, stated, “This is the secret of India—the acceptance of life in all its fullness, the good and the evil.”[iii] Instead of fighting evil, Hindus advance their notion of a law of recompense, in which evil is almost mechanically returned for evil, and good for good. Karma sees all suffering as deserved, as payment for sins in a former life. To fight against this law is to invite more suffering.

Karma certainly encourages a callousness of heart among the well-off members of society, since the poor must “deserve” their wretched lot in life. Harmony is sought not by aligning oneself with moral absolutes but by seeking to control or appease other people and the gods. Hinduism is ultimately a religion of power. Therefore, corruption is a virtue. Bribery is fine. The doctor may need an inducement to finish operating on your wife; the clerk may need a perk before she can give you your driver’s license or business permit; the police officer is happy to overlook your violation if your bribe is enough.

Moral freedom misused brings havoc

Without a moral code, immorality has free rein in animistic cultures—with devastating consequences. The entire population of 250,000 Garifuna people in Honduras faces possible extinction because of the HIV/AIDS, brought on by unbiblical sexual ethics.[iv] In secular societies, the collapse of monogamy has, despite the assurances of those in favor of “sexual freedom,” been anything but liberating for women. The sexual revolution in the United States has been a disaster for women.

The misuse of moral freedom has wreaked havoc for generations. It continues to do today.

–          Darrow Miller

This DM&F Classic blog post is excerpted from the book Discipling Nations. For the entire text go here.


[i] Lewis, Mere Christianity, 117.

[ii] David Aikman, “Cambodia: An Experiment in Genocide,” Time, July 31, 1978, 39–40.

[iii] Quoted from a museum display in India.

[iv] Larry Lea, “Garifunas Fret AIDS May Wipe Them Out,” Honduras This Week, January 6, 1996, 1.

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Darrow is co-founder of the Disciple Nations Alliance and a featured author and teacher. For over 30 years, Darrow has been a popular conference speaker on topics that include Christianity and culture, apologetics, worldview, poverty, and the dignity of women. From 1981 to 2007 Darrow served with Food for the Hungry International (now FH association), and from 1994 as Vice President. Before joining FH, Darrow spent three years on staff at L’Abri Fellowship in Switzerland where he was discipled by Francis Schaeffer. He also served as a student pastor at Northern Arizona University and two years as a pastor of Sherman Street Fellowship in urban Denver, CO. In addition to earning his Master’s degree in Adult Education from Arizona State University, Darrow pursued graduate studies in philosophy, theology, Christian apologetics, biblical studies, and missions in the United States, Israel, and Switzerland. Darrow has authored numerous studies, articles, Bible studies and books, including Discipling Nations: The Power of Truth to Transform Culture (YWAM Publishing, 1998), Nurturing the Nations: Reclaiming the Dignity of Women for Building Healthy Cultures (InterVarsity Press, 2008), LifeWork: A Biblical Theology for What You Do Every Day (YWAM, 2009), Rethinking Social Justice: Restoring Biblical Compassion (YWAM, 2015), and more. These resources along with links to free e-books, podcasts, online training programs and more can be found at Disciple Nations Alliance (https://disciplenations.org).

1 Comment

  1. Jack Gutknecht

    October 23, 2019 - 7:09 am

    Well-written article, Darrow, and nicely illustrated, too!