The postmodern mind will be shocked if it ever realizes that there is such a thing as good character and bad character. Of course, to realize such a shocking truth, one must also acknowledge that some things are right and some things are wrong. I am sadly amused by the psychological “wisdom” that concludes that the reason that Josh Duggar (if that’s really his name) engaged in sexual deviancy is because his parents (and the extended Christian community) expected him not to do so; they told him what was right, and it caused him to do wrong (even though they don’t truly believe there is right and wrong – very confusing, indeed).
I have recently emphasized that our culture, including the Christian community, has abandoned efforts to understand and communicate truths about moral agency. A very important, foundational aspect of this discussion involves the concept that morality works from the inside out. It is true that there are external influences involved in the process of assuming a right internal foundation but virtue, in the individual, is not established until they engage in the right external act for the right internal motive.
“So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness.” (Eph.4:17-19)
As Paul instructs followers of Christ to become the moral agents God designed us to be (the image of Christ), he, as well, indicates there is a way we should not live. Further, he explains why people produce such unacceptable behavior. The English word translated “because” (Greek – “dia”) provides important insight. The descriptive language related to the inappropriate lifestyle (walk) is that it flows from wrong thinking (futility of the mind, darkened understanding) which is associated with being separated from or having a wrong relationship with God (excluded from the life of God).
Why is this so? Because of ignorance. The word “ignorance” comes from “agnoia” from the root “agnoeō,” which means, by implication, “to ignore (through disinclination).” Ignorance should be understood as ignore-ance; the act of ignoring. This is comparable to Paul’s statement “men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness.”
Why are they ignoring truth about God and moral virtue? “… because of the hardness of their heart…” What does this mean? Is this an inherent, innate condition? One’s heart is the self-appointed, supreme purpose for which one lives. The complex operation of moral agency involved in establishing one’s heart is to be considered in a future post (Four Aspects of Moral Agency), but it suffices to say that once a person establishes their own pleasure or gratification of Self as their ultimate goal in life, it affects the further use of their mind, their will, choices and behavior and, of course, right relationship with and concept of God is ignored and destroyed.
The bottom-line, “Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.” (Pr.4:23)