Russia, Ukraine, and the Reality of Right and Wrong

Just about every morning I wake up and think about the people of Ukraine. Though I try to avoid looking at my phone for the first hour of the day, I have been waking and checking it regularly, eager to read of new developments. This morning I listened to Albert Mohler’s edition of The Briefing, which reminded me of a peculiar trend I have seen in the media. The trend is this: individuals, countries, and organizations are almost all unified in their denunciation of Russia’s wrongdoing. This collective condemnation raises the question: does this mean there is such a thing as right and wrong?

In the last few decades, post-modern thought has trained societies to reject moral absolutes (i.e. concrete, black-and-white claims of right and wrong). In fact, many assert that any claim to moral authority or to a recognition of moral truth is simply a tool of power and oppression (critical theory). Thus, what is right for you may not be right for me. What is true for you may not be true for me, and so on. A rejection of moral absolutes may be able to survive in the petri dish of theoretical frameworks, but it cannot survive in war-torn reality.

Here’s why. If moral absolutes do not exist, one cannot maintain that Russia’s invasion is objectively wrong. If we reject concrete moral truths, what is wrong with the invasion with our eyes may simply be a difference of opinion from what makes it right in the eyes of the Russians. Thus, if moral absolutes do not exist, all claims of wrongdoing are merely preferential. They carry no objective weight and will reduce to trivial argument. These arguments typically amount to, he who shouts the loudest, wins.

But that isn’t what we’ve seen with the universal condemnation of Russia’s actions. We’ve seen a display of the world-wide recognition that there have to be moral absolutes. That there is such a thing as an objective right and wrong. Even if that recognition cuts against the grain of decades of post-modern thought.

Thus, the questions must be asked: if there are moral absolutes, who sets the rules? Who orders our moral compasses? Who is the ultimate judge? The Christian may respond with James, “God is the only Lawmaker and Judge” (James 4:12) or Isaiah, “The Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, The Lord is our King” (Isaiah 33:22).

Brothers and sisters, we have an opportunity. Not just to pray on behalf of Ukraine and endure the economic effects of sanctions placed on Russia. We also have an opportunity to point to the reality of right and wrong and the God who defines them. We have an opportunity to recognize good and evil and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, who fulfilled the Law on our behalf, who took the judgment we deserved from the Righteous Judge of the earth, and who defeated evil forever by His resurrection. Let us consider this opportunity and by God’s grace, act accordingly!

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