A Defense of Biblical Ethics in Business

  • Larry G. Locke
  • Taelyn Shelton
  • Baylee Smith


The application of biblical ethics in mainstream American business has long been displaced by more modern theories of ethics, such as utilitarianism and contractarianism. As the Enlightenment period introduced a greater focus on rationalism and individualism, business people began to find biblical ethics to be an unworkable approach to contemporary business problems. In this article, the authors will argue that biblical ethics is a viable tool to be used in resolving ethical issues in modern business settings. The authors will first provide a high-level overview of the history of biblical ethics as a model for businesses and consider why it fell into disuse. They will then examine the modern alternatives of utilitarianism and contractarianism and provide examples in which those theories failed to protect businesses from unethical behavior. The authors will then demonstrate the presence of these ethical alternatives within the Bible and defend biblical ethics as providing a more complete and reliable ethical source in the modern business setting. They will finally contend that the perceived complexity in applying biblical ethics to business problems is actually an opportunity for Christian business people to grow in sanctification.