How should we view past morals?


#1

Let’s take pre-Christian Rome for example. They saw war as a very noble and honorable act, and thus their imperialism was not based on bloodlust but on their ethical opinions at the time (i.e., that the pinnacle of life was to die in glory).

Should we condemn the Roman Empire because they were objectively evil, or should we say that because their did not have the moral enlightenment of Christ, that what they did was morally grey?


#2

Whether what they did was good or bad may not be knowable to us to a certainty, however there certainly is an answer to whether or not what they thought was good or bad.

The reason is that morality is real and objectively exists, just like truth. Francis Schaeffer once spoke of “true truth” and he said that that which is true is true in all times and in all places. People may mistakenly or deliberately disagree with it but that has no bearing on truth itself.

The same is true of morality. We cannot know whether the Romans viewed themselves as moral or amoral, although certainly Augustine would indicate that some Romans felt that Rome was immoral, however we can be sure that they, being non believers in God, were at their very core immoral regardless of what they thought about themselves.


#3

I believe one waxes a bit romantic to categorize Roman imperialism as noble, honorable, or simply based in pre-Christian ignorance.

It seems Rome’s intentions were far more based in simple economics and personal advancement of its rulers who had a bit of a god complex. There’s no need to condemn them as they’ve already done it to themselves. We can say that their tactics were in large part immoral and contrary to the natural law, which has God as its author. There is no gray area to use a live human being, douse him in oil, and set him on fire to use as a torch light so one can continue to party on into the night. No system of belief can ever excuse such barbarism. It didn’t take the incarnation of God to point out that such action was intrinsically evil. That knowledge is stamped into the hearts of humanity.


#4

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