Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Sins of Moralism

Grant me, O Lord, that I might see my own trespasses, and not pass judgment on my brother – St Ephraim

(Christians) seem to think that if they can move more and more people toward living “morally,” that we will then have a better society, nation, world: that “GOD will then be on our side, once again.” The problem with this assumption is that it is based on the idea that we humans can save ourselves (or our nation) by being “good.” +

People whom are primarily driven by morality are usually judgmental and haughty. Such people are often self-righteous busybodies, running around behaving as if Christ abdicated His throne and left them in charge of governing the world or at least their neighbors. +

Moralism only places value on those who adhere to a particular moral code. Loving others, treating all people with the dignity and respect due them, because each is made in God’s image, is nowhere to be seen among such people. +

When societal “morality” becomes the Christian’s Be All and End All, the means by which they seek to establish it will be legal: if we can just pass the right laws and get rid of the “wrong” ones, then all will be well. However, when we depend upon laws to keep everyone in check, what we will end up with is a revolt of slaves wanting to throw off their shackles. It is the heart that must be converted to love and obedience to God. If this doesn’t take place… expect a revolt. +

Moralism. Christians should consider the instructions of the Apostles Peter and Paul:

Peter’s advice (Acts 15) to Gentile converts whom the Jewish Christians were demanding be circumcised, if they were to be “good Christians”: “We’re not going to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols (stay away from idols and idolatry), from blood, from the meat of strangled animals (watch over your testimony before the Jews to whom you are a witness for Christ), and from sexual immorality.”

Paul’s advice to Thessalonians (I Thess. 4)
Love each other “more and more,” “mind your own business, work with your hands … so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.” And then, “If you do this, you’re good to go.”

What moral burdens do we Christians place on people, today?  I’ll wager it is far more than what Peter and Paul handed down. And have you ever met a moralist who minds his own business? Crikey: these people consider meddling in the lives of others to be their highest calling. +

God has never been impressed or even amused with people running around thinking that they can leverage His blessings by their proper behavior. It can’t be done. We can’t “save” ourselves via our “uprightness,” “integrity,” “sacrificial life-style,” or “following the straight and narrow.” You and I both know what lies in our hearts, in the hearts of the best of us, and it isn’t pretty. It is a heart being purified through a living faith and trust in Him and His grace that God is after in us. Trusting in our own morality is abhorrent to Him because, as Isaiah pointed out, compared to God’s purity, our “righteousness” appears as nothing more than so many filthy rags.  +

Antidote to Moralism:
Maintaining a constant awareness of my own desperate need for God’s mercy and grace.

I am the chief of sinners. -St. Paul

Note: Not “was,” but “am.”  

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2014

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