So I’ve been doing a new thing with my WordPress site. Instead of blogging my work as I did on my honours project (which resulted in posts that were haphazard, to say the least) I’m now writing it up in pages with content menus and everything. But that means the blog goes very quiet. So now I’m going to post random thoughts and questions from my research, which currently is a new read-through of the Bible with eyes open for a number of topics.
So here’s my thought for the day, which I suspect will take a lot of thinking:
God interacts with his people in ‘covenant’. his commands to us come from within that covenant. What does this do to our ethics?
Firstly, what does it do to the frameworks (teleological, deontological, consequentialist, insert-Greek-word-here-ological) that we try to cubby-hole biblical ethics into? How does the intrinsically relational element of covenant and covenant conditions affect how we read biblical ethics, how we apply it, and how we teach it to others?
Secondly, if covenant was out unifying theme for ethics, would that not further undermine Christian attempts to apply biblical ethics to non-Christians? They’re not part of the covenant, of course they could not be expected to see how good it is to live in the covenant way, and they won’t get any of the benefit. It’s like an Australian going around wearing All-Blacks gear: it doesn’t make them part of the team, and it doesn’t even give them any of the benefits. It’s just pointless. The problem is that they go for the Wallabies, until they fix that, it doesn’t matter what they wear (for non-Rugby people, insert good team and bad team here).
This thought puts a different slant on the common argument using creation ethics. The argument goes: God created a certain order, and it is Good. Thus, even if people are not part of the kingdom/covenant/church, then getting them to live the way of the creation order is still good for them. HOWEVER, if biblical ethics is fundamentally covenantal, then the commands to restore that order only make sense within the relationship of the covenant. Let’s face it, the only place where the macro created order of God->humanity->creation is restored is within the covenant. so why are we forcing non-Christians to follow a tiny part of that order (say, in their sexuality) when they have got the whole pyramid upside-down?
More on ethics in Genesis