Journal Entry: Devine Command Theory




Journal Entry: Devine Command Theory


Journal Entry: Divine Command Theory

The Divine Command Theory (DCT) holds that ethical principles are God’s commands. These principles obtain their validity from God’s commanding them. There would be no universally valid morality without God. This theory has 3 distinct theses: firstly, morality, namely, wrongness and rightness, hails from God. Secondly, moral wrongness denotes being against God’s will and moral rightness denotes willed by God. Thirdly, since morality is rooted in divine will and not on independently existing reasons for action, further reasons for action are unnecessary (Pojman & Fieser, 2008). This journal entry argues that when a superior being appears to a proponent of the Divine Command Theory and commanded her to torture her mother, that person would deal with this problem by obeying the superior being and torture her mother since the torture would be moral as it was willed by God.

As per the Divine Command Theory, God’s decree is the sole arbiter of wrong and right. It is God who creates morality. Therefore, if God decided to command a person to commit a heinous act such as torture her mother, this action would become a morally good action (Pojman & Fieser, 2008). An action is either immoral or moral only because God either forbids people from doing it or actually commands people to do it, respectively. In essence, the only thing that makes a given action morally wrong is that it is prohibited by God. If God commands a person to torture her mother it means that torture is a moral act.

The proponent of the DCT will say that God has revealed to her what is his will by commanding her to torture her mother. The person who is commanded by God will obey God and torture her mother, just as God commanded Abraham to kill Isaac his son as described in the Bible. According to proponents of DCT, God can make what appears morally heinous morally good merely by willing it (Pojman & Fieser, 2008). Therefore, even though torturing one’s own mother might seem a morally heinous act, it is actually a morally good act because a superior being has willed it. Basically, the omnipotence of God, as per DCT proponents, includes his ability to make an evil action good. He therefore can make cruelty, injustice, rape, killing or torturing one’s own mother good deeds.

The Devine Command Theory totally undermines the objectivity of ethics as it insists that the command of God, like those of societies or individuals, do not call for justification in terms of any external principles. As such, this theory is a sort of moral relativism: what is wrong or right is what a person’s God, like a person’s society or a person’s self, says is wrong or right. DCT proponents maintain that there are no other standards of being morally right other than the commands of God. God can therefore command people to do anything and by definition, it will be right for people to do exactly that. Anything that God commands people to do will become the standard of moral rightness and there is no moral value external to God to limit what God would command or would not command. For this reason, if God commanded a person to torture her mother, the Devine Command Theory entails that the torture would be a moral thing to do given that to do the right thing is logically the same as to do what God commands (Pojman & Fieser, 2008).


Pojman, L. P., & Fieser, J. (2008). Ethics: Discovering right and wrong. New York City, NY: Cengage Learning.