Believe it or not, we should do what the Bible teaches us to do. Obeying the Lord’s commands means we are obligated to do some things, and not do others things.
But there are also plenty of things that the Bible does not say we should do (or not do). It doesn’t give us instructions on some good things that we should do (like feeding the neighbours chickens while they’re away, even though the neighbours forgot to ask). Neither does it list all the bad things we shouldn’t do (like drawing your initials on the wet cement of a public pavement). Christians therefore need to have good moral reasoning to fill in these gaps.
Good moral reasoning requires us to know what the Bible says, and then extrapolate this to the context we are in. As the Bible is a tapestry of many threads, it can be a difficult process deciding which threads to pull on, and which threads take precedence over others. The process is difficult enough to provide for a diversity of beliefs on moral issues among Christians. This diversity will require charity, and prayerful consideration from both parties as we call each other on to holiness.
A CASE STUDY: Abortion
One moral question—if not THE moral question of our times—is on abortion. Is it acceptable that the choice of the mother to kill her unborn child be valued more highly than the life of that unborn child? Despite there being no verse instructing us to not perform abortions, and no passage that explicitly teaches that this practice is abominable to God, almost all Christians at all times have been united on in their answer. NO! The child’s life takes precedence.
That is because the Bible; (a) implies the status of the contents of pregnant woman’s uterus as alive (Exodus 21:22-25), (b) speaks of the nature of the alive being within a womb as human (Luke 2:6-7a), and (c) the value of all human beings being made in the image of God. For instance, John (the future Baptist) leapt for joy in the presence of the Messiah (Himself also in the womb) (Luke 1:41, 44). This verse not only confers both life and humanity to the unborn John, but (d) personality.
The Bible speaks of God as the author of all life (Isa 44:22, 64:8), the one responsible for life and death (Exo 20:1, 13, Deut 30:19), and knowing the intimate details of the future of certain individuals and groups while in their mother’s womb (Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” Also David, Psa 139:13-16; Isaiah, Isa 49:1b; Paul, Gal 1:15; and the church, Eph 1:3-4). Add to this God values the “least of these” (Mat 25:40), the needy, defenceless and vulnerable (Psa 35:10).
From drawing out these strands of thought in the Bible it is an easy step to reason that God would oppose the practice of abortion, which we should consider an attack against the unborn’s life and destiny. Powerful justification would be required before placing matters of life and death into human hands, intervening in the natural course of events and killing an unborn child.
This is a good example of how the Bible does not explicitly say something is bad, but implicitly teaches it nonetheless. On the flip-side of the same coin, we should do what we can to preserve the lives of unborn children, support the Pro-life cause, even though the Bible does not explicitly state we should.