Are You an Amoral or a Moral Christian?

Today’s guest post is from the truth-speaking, always honest, Jesus-loving Ken Hagerman. Ken’s blog is called Rambling with the Barba and I highly recommend it. Hope you enjoy.

I’ve noticed something a little odd lately. I was reading a book and one of the characters was described as a good moral Christian. I was listening to an audio presentation and the guest was introduced as a salt-of-the-Earth type. “She’s a good Christian, moral person” they said. The pairing of the words moral and Christian is popping up a lot. Maybe I’m just naïve. I know I’m a big ole dumb southern male and all, but I thought that morality and Christianity kinda went together. Like, I follow Jesus and therefore I am moral.

Silly me.

When did we cross over into territory where we needed to qualify Christians as moral? Did it happen to coincide with the push for authenticity?

“No sirree, these aren’t your run of the mill Jesus Freaks– They’re moral, too.”

I’m not using this opportunity as a call for legalism. It’s a call for the saturation of the spirit of our name sake, Jesus.

We have tried the checklist theology and failed. You know the one with the giant directory of all things sinful with a “DO NOT” in front of it. Yeah, that one. With the corresponding registry of good things–some would say moral–to “DO” on the other side.

Modifying our behavior didn’t make us any more like Christ on the inside. On the outside our check box fever alienated the non-Christians in our lives. Knowing we needed to “make disciples of all men” we looked at the checklist theology as the culprit and tossed it aside. What came next was a paradox of grace-fueled Jesus-ness…

The abolition of the list effectively relieved us of our duty to morality. Shortly two camps emerged. Many Christ followers finally found the true Savior who had been buried under the weight of modified conduct. Now their soul was changed and as a result so were their actions. Seeing the change in these folks the non-Christian world began to see Jesus’ hands and heart in action.

On the flip side, others, who had relied on the structure of the paper model (i.e. checklist) to establish their identity as a Christian found it easy to evangelize. By removing the lines altogether they were incredibly easy to blur. Christianity, to many of these people, became a marketplace. A place where inclusion is the ticket and a cheapening of Christ is the purchase price.

This is a place where the sale of merchandise and ideas holds tremendous value. It’s a place to create a platform, a forum. It’s the place where Emperors wear their invisible clothes and then fill their empires with people too blinded by the ease of entry to see them in their skivvies. Seeing this other group of Christians, non-Christians began to see new Christianity’s low price of admission and consequently were taken advantage of. They were made numbers on a roll and assigned to a small group.

Each week their spiritual sharp edges are dulled by the drone of Pseudo-Christian self-help morality. It’s the checklist again, but in a different and MUCH less stringent form. In the end the question is; Are you a moral Christian or amoral Christian?

Do you think Jesus was moral? Moral: ethical, right, just, honest, good, proper, honorable, decent. Those are the synonyms offered for moral. Why do you think it has become necessary to declare Christians moral, as well?

Formerly a youth pastor, Ken is now a full-time missionary in Paraguay, along side of his wife, whom he calls his “rockin hot babe.” He has two Jesus-loving daughters, as well. “Barba” is not his real name, obviously. It means “beard” in Spanish, because well, he has an awesome one.

8 thoughts on “Are You an Amoral or a Moral Christian?”

  1. In a way, this reminds me of that old bumper sticker: “Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven.” <–as true as that as is, I'm glad it's gone the way of the DoDo. Because one could substitute just about any word for "perfect," and have an excuse for Christians behaving badly, i.e. "Christians aren't moral, just forgiven."

    I digress. I think the reasons for qualifying Christians these days as "moral," and "salt of the earth" types are twofold:

    1) We have seen so many excesses, so much hypocrisy, we want to distant ourselves from that; and,

    2) We want to be know as real, authentic (which you touched on)–again distancing ourselves from those "other guys."

    As for Jesus, He was and is morality incarnate: perfect in every way, He is both the source and the fulfillment of the law (morality). The living Logos that that transcends the old covenant, and brings a new: grace.

  2. First of all, I really enjoying reading both Modern Reject and Rambling with the Barba.

    To me, “moral” is the equivalent of “law-abiding.” Nowadays, I will classify people not necessarily how moral they are, but how “godly” they are, meaning, how humble are they and how much do they seek God for help, grace and wisdom. My definition of “godly” means walking the talk as much as possible and not pretending that you are more than what you are. Jesus was a godly man. Some people would argue that he wasn’t very moral because, goodness gracious, he forgave a woman caught in adultery! He hung around with tax collectors and pagans. He deigned to have an extended conversation with a woman living with another man! And he smack talked with the moral, respected leaders at the time. Finally, what moral person would claim to be “one with God?”

    Theoretically, “Christian” should be equivalent to “godly” or “moral.” However, just like in the apostle’s day, some people try to pretend to be what they aren’t for their own ego or use their freedom in Christ to give into their selfish desires and some are outright liars who want to undermine the gospel. In my life, God used an ungodly deacon (an outright liar in my biased opinion) to bring me back to Him after wandering away for a while (because His sense of humor can be quite dry at times). I also have a couple of ‘ungodly’ relatives who attend church but do not show evidence of knowing God. One of them seems to use church as a checklist, to stroke his own ego, the other uses his “salvation(?)” for licence, believing that Jesus is a “get into heaven free” ticket. I try to be a godly woman and my husband tries to be a godly man and both of us rely on the grace of God to help us when we fail the WWJD test.

    1. You have a point in that Jesus, by the local standards, may have been considered immoral by the religious heads. That is interesting. does that mean that morality shifts based on our society and cultural cues? Or, are there a set of morals that supersede societal systems?

      Godly would be a good way to look at it but then that begs for a post on ungodly Christians instead ;)

      1. Ken & Tandemingtroll,

        To answer Ken’s questions, there are commands and commissions that supersede any cultural context.

        But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” -Matthew 22:34-40

        Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” -Matthew 28:16-20

        We are to love the Lord our God with everything within us, and to extend the infinite grace and love that he has given us to the individuals he has purposefully placed around us. But we are not just to love them as neighbors. After presenting our hearts submissively to God, and interceding for those he has placed in our lives (because, let’s be honest, you are NOT loving your neighbor well if you are not bringing their lives humbly and lovingly to the Lord’s feet in prayer), then we are to disciple them. There is so much more involved in this process, but that’s the VERY short gist.

        I would also add in response to this post, for the sake of clarity, Matthew 5:17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” From the mouth Jesus himself. Though I realize the heart of the post is amazingly correct, I would caution Mr. Hagerman to refer to God’s perfect and inerrant law as just a list. The reason the law did not work was not because it was imperfect, but because of our sin. It is a divine revelation of God’s character that we could never live up to. And praise God, he has made a way for us not to. I agree with your post that, when we view it as just a list that we are not attached to, that it makes salvation look paltry. I would challenge anyone who feels that way, however, to read the entire Levitical law, and to realize (a) just how miserably we fail, and (b) just how massive God’s provision is for our lives.

        1. I’m afraid you may have misunderstood my reference to the “list.” I reread my post and realize I could have made that a little more clear. I have not problem whatsoever with God’s first covenant and Law. The list I am talking about is the man-made creation that is to aide us in fulfilling God’s plan. The endless do’s and don’ts thrust on Christianity by well meaning folks. These lists, in their infancy, were guidelines and with the proper heart condition probably were helpful. After years of existence they have become just a checklist. Many times without regard to the relationship of the individual and Christ they are just a punch card to enter heaven.

          Having said that, this is the reason we can get a self identified Christian of questionable morals. Here are two admittedly over the top examples Dennis Rader, the BTK killer, was a deacon and president of his churche’s council. Mass Murderer Anders Breivik of Norway killed to protect Christianity.

          You Said ” I agree with your post that, when we view it as just a list that we are not attached to, that it makes salvation look paltry.” That is the point.

          Thanks for reading and commenting and thanks for the questioning.

      2. The word moral comes from the Latin ‘moralitas’ which, roughly translated, is “what is culturally acceptable”. So looking at the root of the word one does have to conclude that “morality shifts based on our society and cultural cues”.

  3. i found this blog from a link on one of my sisters internet things. her name is to be left out so no one associates my opinions, thoughts, views, beliefs, and language with her. this is an interesting post because morality is extremely misunderstood by christendom. for starters morals are always equated with sin; but that just isn’t bibical. sin is a break in “relationship” with god. has nothing to do with stereotypical moral dilemmas of christians; IE: premarital sex, drugs, stealing, lying, tattoos, abortion, or the environment, etc.. a break with god has nothing to do with the actions of your daily life. morality is a human concept, a system of values to figure who is “badder” than the next. it is a human construct developed to control. i would dare say not found in the bible. the pressure of morality leaves christendom with teenage girls taking it up the ass so they can preserve their hymen for marriage; because purity is based upon an intact hymen not a penetrated anus. or women who have a refurbished hymen so they can feel pure on their wedding day….. a car with a refurbished engine is still a used car. i am not belittling a used car or a woman who has had premarital sex. it is an observation. a system of morality is one of the ways that “christianity” has been subverted. the moralist of the moralist still teach their kids to lie when someone rings the doorbell, or calls on the phone. morality within religion is how we get the “sheep” to not think for themselves but do and act and vote as the preacher says. it has been said that it is a sin to vote democratic. what the fuck? politics have nothing to do with the break or faith in god. this all ties into other posts on here namley about tattoos …. who cares what someone else does with their body… how does it effect/affect you personally. in a nation where every 45 seconds a woman is raped and people are concerned with the moral juxtapositions of another person getting a tattoo…. that is fucked up! if morality is about what we do… then to all those who say we don’t need to “save” the earth because it will burn up when jesus return…. then lets all go do speedballs because we are getting new bodies as well. if you eat shit you are shit. originally there was only one “charge” be a steward of the earth. we still have to live here, eat from here, breathe from here, etc. once again, what the fuck? didn’t mean to tie in two separate posts, but they are linked under the moral responsibility post. i do not believe in morality. i believe in ethics. and i know we will go tit for tat on the differences between them. whatever. once again, morality is not a “christian” concept. it is human… and can be used to control, which is linked to power, which “bibically” speaking is linked to satan. if i may recomend suggested reading two books by jacques ellul, 1. the subversion of christianity, 2. anarchy and christianty. thanks for listening to me. i know on the grand scheme of things i don’t matter. thank you.

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