What I learned about morality from an electrical inspection

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

A few years ago, I was upgrading the electrical service on my uncle’s house. He had one existing panel and he wanted to add an additional panel. This required upgrading the service from 200 amps to 400 amps. We built the new service next to the existing one. We planned on feeding the existing disconnect which was just a couple of feet away around the corner. Everything was going according to plan.

Then the electrical inspector showed up and failed our installation. He cited a section of code that said all the main electrical disconnects for a building needed to be installed at the same location. We told him that they were at the same location on the same corner of the house. He then said that the city had made up a code locally that said that the disconnects had to be within arms reach of each other.

We laughed and pointed out that people have different arm lengths. He was very tall and he had longer arms than we did. He created his own standard that conflicted with the ultimate electrical standard: the NEC. He had a subjective interpretation that could change from inspector to inspector.

How often do we see people in society doing the same thing as the tall electrical inspector? They create their own rules in a never ending desire for autonomy. They want to create the codes that they desire to follow.

Some ideas are not subjective. Some things are right or wrong for all people in all times and in all places. It’s always wrong to kill babies for fun. It’s always wrong to flee battle in a moment of cowardice. It’s always wrong to betray your fellow man.

Why are some things wrong regardless of society’s ideas? They must be grounded in something beyond ourselves. Just like the inspector must follow the standards written down in the National Electrical Code, we must follow an objective moral code that transcends us all. If there is a moral law, there must be a moral lawgiver. As Christians, we believe this moral lawgiver is the God of the Bible. Some things are wrong because they violate the nature of God.

There have been times when I walked into a building and immediately knew that the wiring wasn’t up to code. In the same way there are things that we observe in society that we know are wrong deep in our hearts. This is the law of God which the Bible says is written on our hearts.

It can only be true that shoddy wiring is incorrect if there is a standard somewhere that declares it wrong. If at least one thing is objectively morally wrong, then there must be a standard out there that declares it so. God is the standard.

Eventually we worked things out with the inspector and completed the job. He still violated the standard he was employed to enforce. What do you think? In what ways do people deny objective moral laws? Comment below!

Romans 2:14-15: For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts


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