The fundamental problem with secular morality is that it is unable to provide a uniform code of right and wrong beneficial for ALL mankind … it creates winners and losers and therefore, conflict and suffering.
What is Christian morality?
The spiritual application of the 10 commandments and the summation “Love your neighbor as yourself” forms the base of Christian morality. Its principles are a source of happiness in this life for ALL mankind, regardless of culture or even knowledge of the scriptures. Christians apply this moral code guided by conscience, informed by scripture, and reliant on faith. Although we do so imperfectly, the code remains uniform; it is the code of Christ who Himself does not change. We may deviate from Christ, but unlike the codes of man, we strive for unity with Christ. In this sense, the code leads us and controls our lives.
Good moral codes should benefit everyone, not just the few.
I agree that many decent secular people strive to conform to decent moral codes. There is no reason a “decent moral code” cannot also resemble in many ways the moral code of Christ. But secular codes are decent in some respects but not in others; they resemble a smorgasbord of moral choices that always favor the adherent at the expense of others. The moral code that supports the activities Planned Parenthood is a timely example of a code that supports winners at the expense of losers; in this case, the unborn.
Good moral codes should control, not be controlled.
Human passions sometimes control morality, and such passions too often are not “decent”. So when the secularist finds a code in conflict with his passions, nothing stops him from freely choosing another code. There are literally an infinite number of secular codes available for him to choose and all are equally valid, given that he recognizes no higher authority that can say otherwise. Christians may also find the code of Christ distasteful and choose to “modify” it to better suit their tastes. I am not talking about someone who deviates from the authority of Christ on account of weakness from which he repents, but like the secularist is driven by self interest, passion, or the urge to be his own authority.
If we cannot more strongly argue for religious morality based on the actual results of history, I suggest it is because Christians have syncretized the religion of Christ with “philosophies of the world” (Col. 2:8) and have diluted its power. Such morality may still be called “religious morality” but cannot strictly be called “the morality of Christ”. This raises the question: Can a Christian worship God and willingly choose not to obey Him? Or what did Christ mean when He said: “In vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men”?
The Christian moral code and the power of “fear”
Certainly fear plays a part in Christian morality. It is the fear of ultimate, eternal death and affects his quest for survival. So it is a natural and rational fear and one that furthers a good end. The secularist lacks a belief in eternal life so is not affected by such a fear. His only concern for an “afterlife” is the mortal life of his children. Any “fear” motivation in his morality is that his children will somehow suffer unless he lives a good life that benefits them.
Some say “fear” is the only power behind religious morality. Perhaps they have a different understanding of what Christ’s morality is. God gives us His morality because (a) it reflects His very nature and (b) benefits those who follow it. As already noted, its principles are a source of happiness in this life for all mankind, regardless of culture or even knowledge of the scriptures. Certainly, religious leaders have used fear to augment their own power and position over others. When they do so, they abuse the authority Christ has given them.
Consider the issue of same sex marriage
Some suggest same sex marriage is a novelty on the world scene and our human experience and experiential knowledge is insufficient to condemn it. I disagree. Same sex marriage is a good example of base passions defining secular morality. We have 6000 years of experience that traditional marriage strengthens any culture devoted to it. We have 50 years of experience in our own country showing that breakup of the family tends to diminish the individual and destroy a culture. In short, both a mother and a father are necessary in an environment of love and respect, for children to develop healthily and a culture to thrive.
Same sex marriage is a good example of how at most secular morality can “benefit” an individual, but does so at the expense of others, the children. The morality of Christ demonstrates its superiority because it benefits both the individual AND the culture. Our human experience affirms the wisdom of the morality of Christ, based on the 10 commandments.
People are free to deviate from the moral code of Christ, but not free to escape the consequences for doing so. In this sense, everyone is subject to the moral code of Christ.