The christian morality derives from God, and God is benevolent so whatever he commands is morally good. Does that mean that anything God does or commands is morally right? Or does God only act and command that which is morally good?

If it is the former, would any act, no matter how despicable it would be to our current moral standards, be morally good, because God commands it? Or is there a moral standard independent from God, and God only commands what is morally good according to that independent standard?


6 Answers 6


There is no moral standard apart from the person of God.

God is not Himself subjected to some outside standard of reference, He is the standard that we reference. Since we also know that He is good, we can be certain that nothing He commands will ever bee morally despicable. @Joel Coehoorn nailed in in a comment. Yes, actions are morally good because God commands them and what God commands is morally good because it was Him that commanded it.

If something comes up that bothers our consciences we have several possibilities to consider.

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    The moral standard to which God is subject is internal to Himself, not external. The question poses a false dilemma.
    – Benjamin
    Jun 10, 2012 at 0:45

This is what is commonly known as the Euthyphro's dilemma

I can show everyone to the excellent podcast on Dr. William Lane Craig's podcast on it on his website.

It is a common objection that atheist have against the moral argument for his existence.

Here is the link to the podcast


The dilemma in the end is not really a dilemma because the Christian can posit a third option that defeats the horn of the dilemma. It is in the end a false dilemma

How can people say that philosophy is dead when people still talk about a 2500 year old philosophical problem?

In a nutshell.

The Euthyphro dilemma is actually a false dichotomy. That is, it proposes only two options when another is possible. The third option is that good is based on God’s nature. God appeals to nothing other than his own character for the standard of what is good, and then reveals what is good to us. It is wrong to lie because God cannot lie (Titus 1:2), not because God had to discover lying was wrong or that he arbitrarily declared it to be wrong. Therefore, for the Christian, there is no dilemma since neither position in Euthyphro’s dilemma represents Christian theology.

  • Do you have a citation to the suggestion that philosophy is dead? I've never heard that. What is the 3rd option here? Could you quote a bit of the podcast or summarize it?
    – wax eagle
    Sep 14, 2011 at 13:33
  • I was thinking of Stephen Hawkins he begins his book the grand design with that statement anyhow not important.
    – Neil Meyer
    Sep 14, 2011 at 14:47
  • This answer makes it sound like God does not have free will.
    – Benjamin
    Jun 10, 2012 at 0:46
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    Euthyphro's dilemma does not apply to the Creator God. It would only be valid for a god bound by nature, as were the Greek pantheon. God is both the Source and Authority of morality because He created the Universe AND came into it. It's a big concept to expand on in under 500 characters, but that's the gist of it. That Podcast is very informative on the subject. Craig is probably the leading Christian apologist in the world today. And for good reason. Mar 10, 2014 at 12:35
  • @Benjamin In one sense you are correct. The Bible says "He cannot deny Himself" 2 Timothy 2:13
    – One Face
    Mar 11, 2015 at 8:15

This question is a false dilemma. Moral law originates in God's mind, not in His will. It is neither arbitrary nor independent of Him.

"Behold, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil." (Gen 3:22)

"it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay no greater burden on you than these necessary things" (Acts 15:28)

God has knowledge of what is valuable and is therefore obligated by the law of His own mind.


God certainly does what is morally right, but he certainly has the freedom to do what is not good. Even a person with no ethical training has a notion of what is fair and what is not (moral standard of the conscience). Hence I am of the opinion that God only acts and commands that which is morally good.

  • Welcome to Christianity.SE. There is not a hard requirement but this community really likes to see answers defended with either Scripture or some sort of doctrinal statement other than personal opinion. When you answer, please consider demonstrating how you came to a particular belief or who else holds that belief.
    – Caleb
    Sep 17, 2011 at 14:56
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    In light of this view, how would you interpret Hebrews 6:18 where it makes a comment about it being "impossible for God to lie"?
    – Caleb
    Sep 17, 2011 at 14:57
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    Asking someone to murder their child (Abraham) is morally good? How? Sep 17, 2011 at 15:11
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    @Marc Gravell - Murder is unlawful killing. God has authority over life and death. Abraham was not acting unlawfully seeing he had God's command. Abraham also knew God could raise the dead (Heb 11:19). And Abraham was even willing to question God when he feared there might be good people in Sodom (Gen 18:24-25). If there was something morally wrong about it, Abraham would have been the first man to speak up.
    – Benjamin
    Jun 10, 2012 at 0:56
  • @Caleb - Even George Washington supposedly said he could not tell a lie. God is unable to sin because of His voluntary benevolent intentions. The same is true for Christians. "Whosoever is born of God ... cannot sin" (1John 3:9)
    – Benjamin
    Jun 10, 2012 at 1:00

here is what I responded with when I was faced with this objection.

"God himself is the standard for what is good. Good is whatever is in accordance with Gods Character. good is not good in of itself, it must have an ultimate standard.

Do you believe that good is simply good because it is good or do you believe that good is good because humans say so?

if the first then moral laws exist independent of man. if the second, then moral laws are nothing more than the opinions of man according to your worldview."

Don't just answer the objection, rather do what i did and turn it around on the one who is attacking the faith and try to steer the conversation toward the biblical Gospel. That we are sinners who only deserve hell, that god in his mercy and grace has decreed to only save some and died for those who he has set apart for salvation (the church aka the elect) in love. That the sins of the elect were imputed to christ on the cross and he bore the wrath of God against their sins by dying in their place and when one believes and trust in that gospel for salvation (which is how you know your elect, only the elect will understand, believe, and trust in the gospel) the righteousness of christ is imputed to that persons account immediately and he is declared justified by God. All that must be done by the individual to be saved is to believe and trust in the biblical gospel for salvation, not commitment to good works, good works is simply about being thankful and loving god for who he is and what he has done. never will a saved individual have to prove to anyone that he is good enough for god or good enough to be considered saved. its all grace.

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    – Double U
    Mar 10, 2014 at 14:06

Is it possible that The Moral Right as we call it is Gods nature. Therefor his commands would reflect his nature and be Morally Right he wrote the Moral Law on our Hearts so when we follow his commands and it brings us closer to him. Us with our free will can choose not to obey this law but it would separates us from god causing us to feel guilt and shame and thus creates the moral evil,

This does not imply that god could not command a moral wrong but that he wouldn't because of his nature and would work against his plan for us which is to have a close personnel relationship with god


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