Christian ethics 101

by Bill Newton

Posted on Saturday, September 12, 2015, at 1:47 pm

Today, I begin a series of columns on Christian ethics in the business world. But before we can legitimately think through and discuss the issues believers face in the workplace, it’s necessary to explain the difference between “ethics” and “Christian ethics.”

Ethics is a system of moral principles that teaches men and women what is right and what is wrong, and the reasons why. This system instructs on how to regulate manners, behavior, speech, actions, and duties. We live in a time and culture that believes ethics are personal and ever-changing, with no singular set of ethics better than another. Situational ethics flow from these beliefs. Ethics taught in most business schools is largely a course in how to stay out of jail and stay off 60 Minutes.

Christian ethics, on the other hand, are a set of moral principles that help us determine what is right and what is wrong based on the character of God as revealed in His Word and His world.

The difference between these two types of ethics may seem minute, but there’s actually an immense variance. Christian ethics have a definitive authority as a basis. They are not personally determined, culturally modified, or populist in nature. They are backed by the written Word, applicable in every nation and in every era. The principles don’t change, although their applications may vary.

Christian ethics flow from the character of a loving, all-caring, all-knowing Creator. Just like Apple can tell you how to best use and benefit from your iPhone, God knows how this world and we, His creatures in it, will function best. To ignore Apple’s advice is foolish and unproductive. How much more foolish is it to ignore the warm advice of our Heavenly Father? His counsel is not only wise but it works. Christian ethics are the generous, tender blessing of a compassionate Designer.

Our lives would flow ever more fully if we knew His ethics and lived them out not only in the workplace, but in every aspect of our lives.

Bill Newton

Bill is a pastor based in Asheville, N.C. He also serves as a member of God's World Publications' board of directors.

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