The Right Opinion

The Bible vs. Heart

By Dennis Prager · Apr. 2, 2013

I offer the single most politically incorrect statement a modern American – indeed a modern Westerner, period – can make: I first look to the Bible for moral guidance and for wisdom.

I say this even though I am not a Christian (I am a Jew, and a non-Orthodox one at that). And I say this even though I attended an Ivy League graduate school (Columbia), where I learned nothing about the Bible there except that it was irrelevant, outdated and frequently immoral.

I say this because there is nothing – not any religious or secular body of work – that comes close to the Bible in forming the moral bases of Western civilization and therefore of nearly all moral progress in the world.

It was this book that guided every one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, including those described as “deists.” It is the book that formed the foundational values of every major American university. It is the book from which every morally great American from George Washington to Abraham Lincoln to the Rev. (yes, “the Reverend,” almost always omitted today in favor of his secular credential, “Dr.”) Martin Luther King, Jr., got his values.

It is this book that gave humanity the Ten Commandments, the greatest moral code ever devised. It not only codified the essential moral rules for society, it announced that the Creator of the universe stands behind them, demands them and judges humans' compliance with them.

It gave humanity the great moral rule, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

It taught humanity the unprecedented and unparalleled concept that all human beings are created equal because all human beings – of every race, ethnicity, nationality and both male and female – are created in God's image.

It taught people not to trust the human heart, but to be guided by moral law even when the heart pulled in a different direction.

This is the book that taught humanity that human sacrifice is an abomination.

This is the book that de-sexualized God – a first in human history.

This is the book that alone launched humanity on the long road to abolishing slavery. It was not only Bible-believers (what we would today call “religious fundamentalists”) who led the only crusade in the world against slavery, it was the Bible itself, thousands of years before, that taught that God abhors slavery. it legislated that one cannot return a slave to his owner and banned kidnapping for slaves in the Ten Commandments. Stealing people, kidnapping, was the most widespread source of slavery, and “Thou shall not steal” was first a ban on stealing humans and then on stealing property.

It was this book that taught people the wisdom of Job and of Ecclesiastes, unparalleled masterpieces of world wisdom literature.

Without this book, there would not have been Western civilization, or Western science, or Western human rights, or the abolitionist movement, or the United States of America, the freest, most prosperous, most opportunity-giving society ever formed.

For well over a generation, we have been living on “cut-flower ethics.” We have removed ethics from the Bible-based soil that gave them life and think they can survive removed from that soil. Fools and those possessing an arrogance bordering on self-deification think we will long survive as a decent society without teaching the Bible and without consulting it for moral guidance and wisdom.

If not from the Bible, from where should people get their values and morals? The university? The New York Times editorial page? They have been wrong on virtually every great issue of good and evil in our generation. They mocked Ronald Reagan for calling the Soviet Union an “evil empire.” More than any other group in the world, Western intellectuals supported Stalin, Mao and other Communist monsters. They are utterly morally confused concerning one of the most morally clear conflicts of our time – the Israeli-Palestinian/Arab conflict. The universities and their media supporters have taught a generation of Americans the idiocy that men and women are basically the same. And they are the institutions that teach that America's founders were essentially moral reprobates – sexist and racist rich white men.

When the current executive editor of the New York Times, Jill Abramson, was appointed to that position she announced that “In my house growing up, The Times substituted for religion.” The quote spoke volumes about the substitution of elite media for religion and the Bible in shaping contemporary America.

The other modern substitute for the Bible is the heart. We live in the Age of Feelings, and an entire generation of Americans has been raised to consult their heart to determine right and wrong.

If you trust the human heart, you should be delighted with this development. But those of us raised with biblical wisdom do not trust the heart. So when we are told by almost every university, by almost every news source, by almost every entertainment medium that the heart demands what is probably the most radical social transformation since Western civilization began – redefining marriage, society's most basic institution, in terms of gender – it may be wiser to trust the biblical understanding of marriage rather than the heart's.

My heart, too, supports same-sex marriage. But relying on the heart alone is a terribly flawed guide to social policy. And it is the Bible that has produced all of the world's most compassionate societies.

This, then, is the great modern battle: the Bible and the heart vs. the heart alone.



View all comments


Capt. Call in New Mexico said:

"The heart is more deceitful than all else
And is desperately sick;
Who can understand it?
I, the LORD, search the heart,
I test the mind,
Even to give to each man according to his ways,
According to the results of his deeds."
---- Jeremiah 17:9, 10 [NASB]

Tuesday, April 2, 2013 at 12:50 AM

lively4Jesus in north Idaho replied:

That is exactly what came to mind~ Jeremiah 17:9-10. i'm trying to decide whether to post to fb or not. i'll give it another read. Well said, Dennis. Great comment Capt.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 12:50 PM

Old Desert Rat in Las Vegas, NV said: packed a world of truth into one column. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and soul and love your neighbor as yourself.....on these hang all the law and the prophets. All the moral guidance a person needs is in that Book. Bless you.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013 at 3:08 AM

tod-the tool guy in Brooklyn N.Y. said:

"Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive." C.S. Lewis And "A nation not under God, is soon a Nation gone under!" Ronald Wilson Reagan-POTUS 40-(the gold standard). Upward mobility was one of Reverend King's aspirations. When the evil socialists punish success, and steal others' wealth---IT GOES AGAINST GOD!!!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013 at 6:27 AM

Doktor Riktor Von Zhades in Western KY said:

"For well over a generation, we have been living on "cut-flower ethics." We have removed ethics from the Bible-based soil that gave them life and think they can survive removed from that soil. Fools and those possessing an arrogance bordering on self-deification think we will long survive as a decent society without teaching the Bible and without consulting it for moral guidance and wisdom."

5 O Lord, how glorious are thy works! and thy thoughts are very deep.
6 An unwise man knoweth it not, and a fool doth not understand this,
The Book of Psalms Chapter 92:5-6

Tuesday, April 2, 2013 at 8:04 AM

Diane in Tx replied:

Sunday's scripture at our church (and a bunch of other churches I'm sure was Luke 24:5-7, And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.”
When Mr. Prager mentioned "cut-flower ethics" I was reminded of the pastor's teaching: "Those who reject Christ are spiritually dead, and to seek spiritual life among the saved."
Cut flowers, for all that they look beautiful, are dead, they just don't know it yet.
Thank you Mr. Prager, for a wonderful article.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013 at 11:54 AM

Rod in USA said:

This is an awesome piece. Awesome!

*For well over a generation, we have been living on "cut-flower ethics." We have removed ethics from the Bible-based soil that gave them life and think they can survive removed from that soil. Fools and those possessing an arrogance bordering on self-deification think we will long survive as a decent society without teaching the Bible and without consulting it for moral guidance and wisdom.*


Tuesday, April 2, 2013 at 8:28 AM

Ted R. Weiland in Nebraska said:

Dennis Prager: "It [the Bible] was this book that guided every one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, including those described as 'deists.'"

This is true. However, only so far. This certainly was not the case when it comes to what's found in the Constitution. There is hardly an article or amendment that, in some fashion, is not antithetical, if not hostile, to Yahweh's sovereignty and morality.

For more, see online book "Bible Law vs. the United States Constitution: The Christian Perspective" at in which I devote a chapter to every article and amendment examining it by the Bible and God's moral laws therein.

Also, don't miss our Constitution Survey in the right-hand sidebar by which you will receive a free copy of the 85-page "Primer" of "BL vs. USC."

Tuesday, April 2, 2013 at 9:05 AM

David in Mountain View Missouri replied:

When you put the U. S. Constitution into historical context his argument is wholly false. Just think about it. Our Christian Founders, their Christian peers in each state, wrote their state constitutions and laws, full of religious tests and oaths, blasphemy laws, Sabbath laws, state support of churches etc. Then for no good reason they all stop in the middle of this to write a humanist constitution? This is completely illogical and contrary to the character of these men.

For a true look at how much the Constitution really does line up with the Word of God visit this link:

Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 1:04 AM

Ted R. Weiland in Nebraska replied:

Anyone who's read online Chapter 9 "Article 6: The Supreme Law of the Land" ( and Chapter 11 "Amendment 1: Government-Sanctioned Polytheism" ( already knows that the quotations I provide therein from the framers and others involved in the State ratifying conventions prove David's entire line of reasoning invalid. For example, the reason for the federal ban of the States' Christian tests was so that Jews (and eventually representatives from any and all other religions, such as we have today serving in both Federal and States' governments alike) could govern alongside Christians in violation of 2 Corinthians 6:14-18, etc.

By all means, people should go and read Mr. Fortenberry's "Hidden Facts of the Founding Era," (which David references above) in which Mr. Fortenberry provides 48 points allegedly proving the framers were inspired by the Bible. However, before coming to any immediate conclusions, you should also read "Straining at Gnats...," a series of blog articles in which I'm presently responding to those 48 points (NONE of which PROVE what MR. Fortenberry claims).

I begin addressing Mr. Fortenberry's points in Part 2 and in five follow-up articles yet to be posted. However, I recommend you begin with Part 1 at

Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 9:37 AM

David in Mountain View Missouri replied:

“For example, the reason for the federal ban of the States' Christian tests”
This is a wholly false statement as the quotes from state constitutions show below. In addition to the quotes below you can find more such laws in the other states as well. Thus there was no “federal ban” on the states preventing them from requiring religious tests for state level or lower offices. In fact they could also test their federal representatives and since the senators were elected by each state legislators who would have been under religious tests, this leaves very little left “untested” . Besides if the people are seeking God with their all heart they will elect Christian men to office, if they are not doing so, then no matter what any laws says, they will elect anybody they want in this government in or in a theocracy.

Additionally this argument about Article 6 prohibition of religious is wholly pulled out of legal and historical context. When the states wrote and ratified their state constitutions before, during, after the Constitution was ratified and while the writers and signers were still in office and politic, many of these states required tests, some even for their federal representatives which was allowed by the U. S. Constitution in Article 1 Section 2 quoted below:

Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 1:31 PM

David in Mountain View Missouri replied:

Article 1 Section 2. The House of Representatives shall be composed of members chosen every second year by the people of the several States, and the electors in each State shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the State legislature.
Here is some examples from the state constitutions:
North Carolina's State Constitution, Article 6 Section 8
"Disqualifications of office. The following persons shall be disqualified for office: First, any person who shall deny the being of Almighty God."

South Carolina's State Constitution, Article VI
Section 2:
"No person who denies the existence of the Supreme Being shall hold any office under this Constitution."
Section 5: The oath of office ends in,
"So help me God."

Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 1:33 PM

David in Mountain View Missouri replied:

Constitution of Vermont 1777:
Chapter 1 Sec 3
“III. That all men have a natural and unalienable right to worship Almighty God, according to the dictates of their own consciences and understanding, regulated by the word of God; and that no man ought, or of right can be compelled, to attend any religious worship, or erect, or support any place of worship, or maintain any minister, contrary to the dictates of his conscience; nor can any man who professes the protestant religion be justly deprived or abridged of any civil right as a citizen, on account of his religious sentiment, or peculiar mode of religious worship; and that no authority can, or ought to be vested in, or assumed by any power whatsoever, that shall, in any case, interfere with, or in any manner control, the rights of conscience, in the free exercise of religious worship: nevertheless, every sect or denomination of people ought to observe the Sabbath or Lord's day, and keep up some sort of religious worship which to them shall seem most agreeable to the revealed will of God.”

Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 1:33 PM

David in Mountain View Missouri replied:

Constitution of New Hampshire 1784:
Article 1
VI. As morality and piety, rightly grounded on evangelical principles, will give the best and greatest security to government, and will lay in the hearts of men the strongest obligations to due subjection; and as the knowledge of these, is most likely to be propagated through a society by the institution of the public worship of the DEITY, and of public instruction in morality and religion; therefore, to promote those important purposes, the people of this state have a right to impower, and do hereby fully impower the legislature to authorize from time to time, the several towns, parishes, bodies corporate, or religious societies within this state, to make adequate provision at their own expence, for the support and maintenance of public protestant teachers of piety, religion and morality:…And every denomination of christians demeaning themselves quietly, and as good subjects of the state, shall be equally under the protection of the law: and no subordination of any one sect or denomination to another, shall ever be established by law.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 1:33 PM

rab in jo,mo said:

While the Bible certainly teaches not to trust the human heart, the author leaves out the critical "why". It is because we are all born into sin and equally guilty in God's eyes. From the time of the first sin of doubting God's word, the human heart has been corrupted. It is not our nature to follow God's law ("I cannot by my own reason or strength", as Luther wrote so long ago). Only with the help of God through the Holy Spirit can we even come to Him or repent of our wickedness. Our fallen, desperate condition is key to the atoning sacrifice of Jesus' death on the cross.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013 at 9:25 AM

wjm in Colorado said:

Liberals abhor all great written works, and usually try to rewrite them to fit their abberant agenda. Look at the monsters of history they love, Stalin, Mao, Guevarra, Castro, and the late Hugo Chavez. Their ideology of feel good abberant filth and love of slavery to the state will be their undoing. History rewritten can't cover that fact.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013 at 10:11 AM

YSGUY in TEXAS said:

In front of what my wife calls "the machine" (elliptical exerciser), in a font large enough for me to easily read, I have taped a sheet with the following: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all that you do, and He will show you which path to take - Proverbs 3:5-6" It helps me to stay focused daily, in a world gone mad. So do articles by folks like you, Mr. Prager.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013 at 12:15 PM

Bob in Hattiesburg, MS said:

I agree with everything except the statement, "My heart, too, supports same-sex marriage."

Tuesday, April 2, 2013 at 1:57 PM

lively4Jesus in north Idaho replied:

Ditto, that's my hesitation to post on fb.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 12:54 PM

Wayne in Hinesville, GA said:

My heart supports loving my family and doing no harm to others unless they seek to harm me and mine. There is no greater truth than that taught by the Bible. We are all sinners and during our spiritual journey we will lose our way from time to time but always knowing that we only have to ask for God's forgiveness. We can find nothing in this world better to rely on than just knowing in our hearts that God's love and mercy is never-ending. Those whose who turn away from the Bible's teachings and still say they are Christians or Jews make a mockery of their religion.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013 at 6:18 PM

Ethan David Ellingson in Harris MN said:

With a couple exceptions, this article is filled with great points. May the author see the fulfillment of Zechariah, Isaiah and other prophet's predictions in the virgin born Y'shua Messiah of Nazareth, son of David, son of YHWH.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 12:20 AM

Master Gunny in Tifton GA said:

I disagree. It is a gross violation of the supreme court ruling regarding the seperation of church and state to allow laws to be based on the narrow-minded opinions of a bunch of religious zealots. A lawsuit should be filed to have overturned any law that is based on a Biblical principles. Let's see. MURDER; no longer a crime. THEFT/BURGERLY/LARCENY; these too must go (in a collectivist society all things are held in common anyway so this change fits nicely into the leftist theology). PERJURY; no such critter.
Think what a liberated society we will have when all vestiges of the Judeo-Christian tyranny are removed!

Have I made my point? The mitzveh of God are a cohesive package. We dare not pick and choose which of them apply to us and which ones don't. The Creator of the universe knew perfectly well why he placed injunctions on certain behaviors. To challenge His rulings is akin to individual and collective suicide. Ultimately it all falls back on two central precepts' love the Lord your God with all of heart soul, and mind" and the second "love your neighbor as yourself." All of which presuppose trust and reliance on God; of his wisdom, justice, integrity, and love of His creation. All human law must be unfolded from those essential credos as well as the other directives passed down by Moshe and codified in the Torah and Brit Hadeshah.

The truly tragic thing about Darwinian materialists is that they could not live in the world that their theology (the worship of man) would create. If man is just an animal then any hint of morality or justice is actually counter to the advancement of the species. If "the strong survive, the weak perish" is the natural order of the universe then anything that insures individual survival is acceptible. Anything that protects the weak or handicapped is trite sentementalism. In fact all law is a violation of these Darwinian principles and is actully retarding human development!

The leftist, liberal, god-less, apostles of Darwin are incapable of following their own faith to its logical conclusion. Without an understanding of the nature of absolute truth they are incapable of offering any viable solutions to the perennial afflictions of mankind. How tragic that, though they be totally lost, they feel themselves to be well on their way.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 7:26 AM

lively4Jesus in north Idaho replied:


Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 12:56 PM

lively4Jesus in north Idaho said:

*Red Faced* sped read and now so am i, my apologies!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 12:58 PM

Nate Elarton in Temperance, MI said:

Wow. I am an ordained pastor and your article is extremely good. Thank you.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 3:20 PM