Here’s a question for you: Who has the authority to define sin and morality?
Recently, Apple CEO Tim Cook received the Anti-Defamation League’s first-ever Courage Against Hate Award “for his work as a champion of unity, diversity and social progress.”
In accepting the award, Cook—who in 2014 declared “I’m proud to be gay” and became the first openly homosexual CEO of a Fortune 500 company—said:
“We believe the future should belong to those who use technology to build a better, more inclusive, and more hopeful world. I believe the most sacred thing that each of us is given is our judgment, our morality, our own innate desire to separate right from wrong. Choosing to set that responsibility aside in a moment of trial is a sin.”
In his acceptance speech, Cook advocated for more censorship on the internet and its social media platforms. The question for Christians would be, what types of content does Apple believe should be blocked? Will those decisions be made in accordance with the values of platform operators?
Cook has written of his Baptist upbringing in the South and claims to respect religious liberty. He has, nonetheless, expressed opposition to freedom of conscience laws in the wake of federalized same-sex marriage, suggesting they are merely legal cover for discrimination.
“If we can’t be clear on moral questions … then we’ve got big problems,” Cook said during his acceptance speech. “At Apple, we are not afraid to say that our values drive our curation decisions. And why should we be? Doing what’s right, creating experiences free from violence and hate, experiences that value creativity and new ideas is what our customers want us to do.”
For followers of Christ, as well as citizens of a nation founded upon the principles of freedom of speech and freedom of religion, when such thinking would infringe on our religious freedom, it should alarm us.
Much could be said about Apple’s demonstrated values for its content. For example, while supposedly being opposed to offering TV shows that feature violence, politics or rude language, its book and music offerings include titles and songs that normalize unbiblical racial stereotypes and sexual practices, and promote drug use and violence, including rape.
According to industry reports, Apple plans to spend $4.2 billion on content between now and 2022. Apple is also intent on acquiring content for kids as young as preschoolers. One can only wonder what the messages of those programs will be.
Beyond these concerns, however, is a larger Biblical truth: God—and God alone—is the One who has the authority to define sin.
As sinful human beings ourselves, we do not have the right to make “sin” mean whatever we want, in accordance with our personal and political agendas. That was the problem among God’s people a thousand years before Christ appeared, as the Old Testament Book of Judges drew to a close:
“Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25).
God’s Word, the Bible, is the standard by which questions of good and evil, and right and wrong, are determined. Neither Tim Cook, nor I, nor you, are qualified to invent our own standard.
God has decreed what is good and right through the moral law of the Ten Commandments, and magnified and perfectly summed it up in the Person of His only begotten Son. For us to declare anything different is indeed sin.
To presume to define sin for ourselves leads us down the path of destruction. No matter how good our intentions may be, we as human beings do not possess the wisdom or purity to get it right, and we inevitably end up getting it very wrong. Just think, for example, about how figures in history such as Nazi Germany’s Adolph Hitler, Cambodia’s Pol Pot, Uganda’s Idi Amin and others acted out their “morality.”
The Bible says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12).
It’s also perfectly clear about what sin is: “Sin is lawlessness” (1 John 3:4).
It spells out sin’s terrible consequence: “For the wages of sin is death …” (Romans 6:23).
However, God in His love and grace offers us forgiveness and eternal life.
“… but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
He made this gift possible by sending Christ to shed His blood and die on the cross for our sins, then rise from the grave.
“Who Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness” (1 Peter 2:24).
Rather than trying to redefine sin, now is the time to accept God’s definition of it, to place our faith in and follow Christ, and to share the Good News about Him with everybody we can.
Now is also the time to work to protect our freedom to announce the Gospel on social media platforms and everywhere else, so that those who hear can decide for themselves to place their faith in Christ.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New King James Version.