Unlike animals, we are accountable for what we do, because we have an ability to reason and a freedom to act far beyond them. Consistent with this is the great gift of the Creator to mankind — the conscience. This is the true source of our accountability, for it warns us before we do wrong. It is God’s mercy to us that our conscience has the added power to condemn us if we go past that warning. That guilt is meant to soften the heart we had to harden in order to do what we knew was wrong. To continue to go against the voice of our conscience in spite of the increasing weight of guilt is to incur eternal judgement.

What exactly is this voice saying? What is this instinctive knowledge that God has inscribed on every human heart? It is the terms of an Everlasting Covenant that God made with Adam and Eve after the Fall, the boundaries of the conscience that would keep them and their offspring from the sins that would take them to the second death:

To the woman He said, “I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth; in pain you shall bring forth children; yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.”

(Genesis 3:16)

Then to Adam He said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat from it,’ cursed is the ground for your sake. In toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you, and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, because from it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

(Genesis 3:17-19)

These verses convey the essence of God’s absolute moral standard for men and women. The woman is to desire her husband and give herself to bearing his children, not trying to escape the suffering of childbirth or the responsibility of caring for them. This creates a strong bond between the woman and her children, who grow up respecting her. Her husband’s love and respect for her also increases as he watches her go through the pain of childbirth.

The woman is to willingly submit to her husband’s authority over her. The man is to lovingly rule over his wife, appreciating her desire for him and being faithful to her. He is to work hard to provide for his family, living off the sweat of his own brow, not trying to escape the suffering or the responsibility of being their provider. And they love and respect him for this.

There is no room within these boundaries for sexual relationships outside the life-long covenant of marriage between a man and a woman. There is no room for the selfishness that usually motivates the choice to not bear children. There is no room for the wife to dominate or manipulate her husband. There is no room for the husband to be passive or lazy, or to be harsh or tyrannical. But there is much room for mutual love and care, faithfulness and diligence, loyalty and patience, kindness and warmth, endurance and fruitfulness. There is much room for happy, secure, righteous children who grow up to continue in the footsteps of their parents, within the boundaries of this Everlasting Covenant of conscience.

Have you ever seen a Rainbow?

Tragically, beginning with Cain, there were many that forsook this covenant. By the time of Noah’s generation, wickedness was so great that God was grieved that He had made man (Genesis 6:5-8). But He took hope in Noah’s family, who still held to the Everlasting Covenant. After the great flood He added to it:

And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth… And surely I will require your lifeblood; from every beast I will require it. And from every man, from every man’s brother I will require the life of man. Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed, for in the image of God He made man. And as for you, be fruitful and multiply; populate the earth abundantly and multiply in it.”

(Genesis 9:1-7)

This includes a provision for human government to punish those who destroy human lives, which Israel received as law (as all nations will in which righteous men prevail):

If anyone kills a person, the murderer shall be put to death at the evidence of witnesses, but no person shall be put to death on the testimony of one witness. Moreover, you shall not take ransom for the life of a murderer who is guilty of death, but he shall surely be put to death… So you shall not pollute the land in which you are; for blood pollutes the land and no atonement can be made for the land for the blood that is shed on it, except by the blood of him who shed it.

(Numbers 35:30-33)

All good people will uphold this standard (even with their vote), for they value the image of God in their fellow man. Not only will they not murder (or withhold justice from murderers), but they will not knowingly do anything to ruin another person’s life. Still, as in the days of Noah, most people today do not uphold this Everlasting Covenant, and the tragic results are plain to see, as the prophet Isaiah foretold:

The earth is polluted by its inhabitants, for they transgressed laws, violated statutes, broke the Everlasting Covenant. Therefore, a curse devours the earth.

(Isaiah 24:5-6)

Scriptural References and Other Footnotes[+]