Wisdom and knowledge are not the same. From a christian perspective, whilst knowledge can be taken, wisdom must be given. Of course, this can pose a problem when trying to work out the moral good in a situation.
You see, whilst we may be unfamiliar with what is right, the problem is bigger than that. The problem is that we are way too familiar with what is wrong.
So how can we have the wisdom to know what is right? Let’s start by trying to answer these two questions:
Question 1, “Who can give wisdom?” The christian answers, “God”.
Question 2, “To whom does he give wisdom?” The christian answers, “To those in relationship with him.”
Jesus declared, “I am the way, the truth and the life.” So truth is not so much a ‘what’ as it is a ‘who’. Both truth and wisdom reside in the person of God. If we are not in a relationship with truth, we cannot know it. Imagine the irony of John 18:38, staring at Jesus – Pilate asks – “What is truth?” It wasn’t a ”what, it was a ‘who’.
So now we see what our real dilemma is. Our familiarity with what is wrong has ruined our familiarity with He who is right.
In Genesis we read,
“21 The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.22 And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” 23 So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken.” (Genesis 3:21-23)
Dietrich Bonhoeffer commented,
“Already in the possibility of the knowledge of good and evil, Christian ethics discerns a falling away from the origin. Man at his origin knows only one thing: God. The knowledge of good and evil shows that he is no longer at one with his origin.
Christian ethics understands that we cannot know what is right by way of contrast with that which is wrong. Indeed, we cannot know what is right precisely because we know what is wrong. We have become spiritually blind.
Until we know who is right we cannot know what is right. And we cannot just know of him, we must actually know him.
Your pursuit of ethics starts with your pursuit of God.