Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Golden Paradox

There's an odd dynamic out there in the netherworld where secularists and Christians debate morals.  Secularists, of course, argue that we can derive the moral code from considering what is the best way for societies to live and interact with each other.  For example, it's pretty obvious that theft is bad.  Who would want to live in a society where everybody is constantly stealing from one another?  Right and wrong are pretty easy to discern, really, at least on the major issues.

Christians are appalled by the secularist approach, or (as their talk-show hosts often call it) humanist approach, to defining morals.  They know that God is the source of all morality.  They know what is right and what is wrong by reading God's word.  However, most Christians do not follow God's Law from the Old Testament.  Sure, they will proudly post the ten commandments in front of courthouses, but that's about all you hear about obeying God's Law from the mainstream.

As my recent debate with David* had demonstrated, many Christians look at Matthew 22:36-40, where Jesus says the two most important commandments are to love God and to love your neighbor, and they take this as a license of freedom from God's Law.  If they want to know how to act, they need only to think of how to love their neighbor.

The great paradox here is that this puts this type of Christian on the same footing as the secularist in determining morality.  Each is judging morality as they see fit from their own hearts.  Yet, oddly enough, Christians espousing this belief feels like they are somehow better at it.  Their golden rule is somehow better than the golden rule of someone else.  Go figure.

* This post is not directed at David, as I had not detected this unjustly superlative position in him.  This post is based more off of my experience with others and listening to Christian radio.


  1. "many Christians look at Matthew 22:36-40, where Jesus says the two most important commandments are to love God and to love your neighbor, and they take this as a license of freedom from God's Law."

    Some Christians even go so far as to declare that Paul was an advocate of grace over the law. They go around reciting "but we are under grace not under the law". If you truly read the books attributed to Paul, he's not saying not to follow the law. He's saying that following the law won't save you, but that if you are saved you will follow the law. Jesus said, "if you love me you will follow my commands". A lot of Christians act as if there are only two: Love God, love your neighbor. Jesus said these were the greatest, not the only commands. Christians aren't supposed to be supplanting the Old Testament with Christ's sacrifice, they're supposed to be empowered to carry it out. The fact that I don't see that happening in my life or the lives of others gives me great pause.

  2. I was under the same assessment, D'Ma. :-)

    "Jesus said these were the greatest, not the only commands."

    It's funny you said that. I was thinking the same thing this morning shortly after I got up.

    "The fact that I don't see that happening in my life or the lives of others gives me great pause."

    No kidding! I see it as a blessing (if I may be so bold as to use that word) that more Christians don't follow the Law that closely. Otherwise, we might run out of stones. ;-)

  3. OMG! I meant the love God,love neighbors thing. Heck most Christians I know don't even have that much down. As for the stones; they know how to throw rocks pretty darned well. They just shouldn't since they live in glass houses. ;-)

  4. Not trying to argue with you, but. . .

    When Jesus said "my commands," he wasn't referring to the OT law. The reason that Paul explained that eating unclean meat is now okay, for example, is that the law had been fulfilled. That's not to say that there was nothing good about the law, of course, or that it should be discarded and ignored, but as Col. 2:14 puts it, Jesus "canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness" (NIV). Truly Christians are not "under the law" any longer as a result of that cancellation.

  5. @D'Ma:
    Doh! I should have known that. :-) But you're right, they are still pretty good at throwing stones. They've just changed the material the rocks are made from.

    Yeah, OK. Let me ask you though: Even though the punishment (legal indebtedness) isn't there, do you still think it's a good idea to follow the 10 commandments? How about the rest of the laws that your God gave men?

    Also, how do you fulfill a law exactly? That's a trick question, actually. Everybody knows you don't fulfill a law. You enact laws. You enforce laws. But laws are never fulfilled. It must be that Jesus means something else there... like maybe prophesy which was contained in the Torah? You CAN fulfill prophesy.

  6. @Anonymous,

    I think what he meant by fulfilling the law was the punishment thereof. That's why Christians no longer sacrifice animals(poor things) because Bible God's bloodthirst was quenched with Jesus. Man couldn't even get that much satisfactorily. If you want a job done right, do it yourself,eh?

    Question though? If we're no longer under law how do we know what sin is? I mean, even after you're "saved" you have to keep repenting. Repenting of what?

  7. What did Christ mean in Matthew 23:25-26?

    The thing about throwing stones is you always give your target ammunition. How can you stop? Should you?

  8. @D'Ma:
    Good counter!

    I'm not sure you posted the verses you intended to post. Matthew 23:25-26 speaks of how the Pharisees do everything to garner the exaltation of men. That doesn't really relate to this topic as I see it, unless you have a different angle than what I am seeing.

    Not only that, preceding those verses, in Matthew 23:21-23, Jesus says that you should obey what the Pharisees and teachers of the Law say to do, and not be hypocritical about it.

  9. @TWF: A good idea? It's a good idea to bear in mind those principles, which are timeless, and discard the specifics, such as the particular day of the Sabbath. The rest? No. Many no longer apply, as they were specifically for that time and/or those people. How does one fulfill a law? One guilty of breaking it is not able to, but Jesus was able to (these laws, unlike ours today, were intended to be replaced with a new and better way).

    @D'Ma: Bloodthirst? Verses such as Matthew 6:26, Psalm 40:6-10, 1 John 4:16, and Psalm 147:9 indicate that God cares deeply for animals. Another possible explanation is that sin was incredibly serious to God, and something as horrific as having to kill an animal got that message across. What is sin? Knowing the right thing to do and choosing not to do it (James 4:17).

  10. Hello again Anonymous (assuming you are the same one...). Interesting what you say about the God's Law there. So tell me, have you studied the entire list of God's Law? Have you determined which ones apply, which ones do not, and which principles are good? I'd love to see the results of your study. :-)

    Oh, and by the way, I'd also love to see the verse in the Old Testament where God says that His Law is only temporary, and will not always exist. Good luck with that one... ;-)