This is how Seth Fiegerman at Mashable summarized new Apple CEO Tim Cook’s recent moves, an array of social activist “statements” that includes an Apple gay pride parade and declaring himself homosexual, calling to attention to perceived environment and climate change, and associated causes. Fiegerman also synonymously dubbed his activism as “moral authority” and “staking out moral ground.” The evocative title of the article is “Apple’s new moral era begins” (6/8/15). As a happy “Macster” with an iPad and iPhone, I am not a frustrated PC user looking for an opportunity to rage against the Apple machine. It is what it is.
Whether or not you agree with Cook, he is most certainly assuming definite moral leadership. Indeed, it is not overstating things to say he is “moralizing,” as vehemently as any preacher, professor, or reformer could. In his powerful position at one of the most influential companies in the world, Cook is spending his leadership capital in a profound, definite, and specific way. However, it is not as if he invented moral leadership. Anyone with any influence in any point in history is wielding moral leadership, staking out moral ground with at least some degree of moral authority. The defining question is, “Whose morality?”
The Bible defines morality. As the product of a transcendent, all-powerful authority, the Bible is the only legitimate standard of morality. It outlines a specific way of living, using words like godliness (see especially 1 Tim. and 2 Pet.), moral excellence (2 Pet. 1:5), detailing a moral lifestyle (cf. Gal. 5:22-23), and the like. It also forbids a specific way of living, using terminology like immoral and immorality. Its standard is specific. Consider a few examples:
- If a man marries a woman and her mother, it is immorality (Lev. 20:14).
- Divorcing your wife and marrying another woman is adultery, unless your wife is guilty of sexual immorality (Mat. 19:9).
- A man who had his father’s wife was guilty of immorality (1 Cor. 5:1).
- Sodom and Gomorrah were guilty of gross immorality and going after strange flesh (Jude 7).
- Along with a covetous, idolatrous, drunk, or swindling person, God says to avoid the immoral (1 Cor. 5:11).
- Immoral men are placed alongside homosexuals, kidnappers, liars and perjurers as contrary to sound teaching (1 Tim. 1:10).
- Esau selling his birthright is called immoral (Heb. 12:16).
There are many other examples of Scripture defining morality, often by pointing out its opposite. People who use their influence to lead people to do the immoral are certainly exerting moral leadership, but it is leadership contrary to the heart and will of God. There is a vital need for you and me, as those who love and trust God’s Word, to exert true, moral leadership, to exalt His morality. A saying attributed variously to Edmund Burke, John Stuart Mill, and Charles Aked, is very familiar to most: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men should do nothing.” May we step forward and exert moral leadership that honors God.