Zechariah 8: Secular Values
God gives Zechariah a vision of a more peaceful Zion, and it is interesting because He outlines some things that will and will not be happening in this great future.
Zec 8:16 These are the things that ye shall do; Speak ye every man the truth to his neighbour; execute the judgment of truth and peace in your gates:
Zec 8:17 And let none of you imagine evil in your hearts against his neighbour; and love no false oath: for all these are things that I hate, saith the LORD.
People are going to be honest. Notice that truth is mentioned twice. People are going to be honest with each other, and judgment is going to be executed based on the truth. There will not be twisted or unfair judgment.
In verse 17, it basically says that there will not be any dishonesty. You will not have these hidden feelings inside that you want to hurt your neighbor. That is a form of dishonesty. You will not make a promise you can’t keep. God takes promises very serious, and James even warns against them. Why? They are hard to keep, and if you do not, it is a form of dishonesty.
This chapter sounds like a very bright future, so it is very significant that if the people want that future, they ought to do what they are advised here.
I don’t think it is really rocket science that we should be honest. Most of us know that, and we have been taught that from some of our earliest memories. However, here is the challenge. I believe that we ought to be honest because we are commanded to be by honest here in Zechariah as well as in other places. However, I wonder if there is a basis for honesty from a purely secular worldview.
Notice that I am not saying that it is impossible to be honest without religion. That is not what I am saying at all. I am asking if there is an ethical principle in a secular worldview that teaches that it is good to be honest. I don’t know that there is.
I know that people like Sam Harris would argue that there is a way to objectively ground morals in a secular worldview. I am not as convinced. Secular people can certainly value honesty, and I would argue that almost all of them do. However, why do they ascribe that value? I would say that maybe they have been brought up in a Christian environment that has a reason for embracing honesty, and as a result have realized it works. They want that part of Christian values, but they don’t want the Christian part.
I just honestly do not understand where objective values like these can be grounded in a secular worldview. Let’s talk about it.