Ethics and the Application of Scripture
How should Christians apply the Bible to subjects never directly addressed in its pages? How should we think about topics like economic structures, energy policy, medical policy, stem cell research, etc?
Some seem to believe that Christians form ‘moral’ beliefs only on issues directly touched upon in Scripture. We need to reconsider this position. The Christian worldview addresses all issues of life. But how? The short answer is “in nuanced ways.” Scripture speak so to everything in life, whether explicitly or , in the words of the Westminster Confession, “by good and necessary consequence.” For some issues, the Bible is both clear and straightforward (‘You shall not commit murder,’ etc), while on other issues we apply the authority of Scripture by asking what principles can be derived from its larger narrative and commands.
Here’s an example of the latter. Neither Jesus, Paul, nor anybody else in the Bible spoke about road safety. Why? I think we both know the answer. So, how can the Bible address issues such as this? Well, for one, the Bible says that we such obey our governments insofar as they do not demand something that God has forbidden. Setting a speed limit violates no Biblical injunction, so we should follow them. Secondly, the Bible also commands that we regard human life as sacred because they are created in the image of God. This causes me to study and note the things I could possibly do in a car that would injure or harm another person in any way (and to learn to avoid these things). If this includes getting it tuned up regularly, etc., these are things that I do in order to honor God and to honor fellow human beings created in His image.
So, in a nutshell, obeying the authority of Scripture encourgaed me to study these others things, not shy away from them. The same would apply to energy policy, medical ethics, etc.