Good Old Christian Morals!

Brad is a good kid. He is 24, a college student with a straight A-average, and a young man who makes his parents proud. He goes to church too. Every Sunday he’s there, singing hymns and “lifting up holy hands” praising God. He even gets together with the church youth group and travels to see famous Christians singers and performers, like Rebecca St. James and The Power Team. He goes to the Lord in prayer and asks to be a better person. He feels led of the Spirit of the Lord to do this and that. He feels that God is with him, giving him guidance and direction in life.

Now Brad isn’t perfect. He’s just human like the rest of us. Sure, he has his fraternity buddies over to party once in a while, and he tends to annoy some of his more straight-laced, gray-haired neighbors by playing loud pop/rap music, but he’s a good kid. Like most Christian young people, Brad believes that other forms of sexual activity, minus intercourse, are not sins and that God is OK with them. Plus, he thinks God won’t mind if he has premarital sex with his girlfriend at least once to see if they’d be compatible in the long term. When he finally marries the girl, and several years go by, he runs into an attractive “other woman” and quickly shacks up in an affair at the local Motel 6. But he breaks it off afterwards, knowing that he is a Christian and Jesus forgives him. After this happens about 4 more times, people get concerned that he has problems, but he finally quits fooling around for good. God has been patient with him to restore him to his grace, as has his longsuffering wife, and for that, Brad is thankful and resumes his Christian walk.

A year goes by and Brad again shows his sinful human nature. He is at a huge football game and his favorite team just won. Fans are so excited that a massive riot ensues. Thousands of crazed, inebriated fans take to the streets, turning over cars, throwing rocks through store windows, looting businesses, climbing up street signs and tearing off the names, causing great harm and millions of dollars in damages. Just that morning, Brad was in church singing “Oh How I Love Jesus,” and “Shall We Gather At the River,” but that night he was being arrested and hogtied by the police and thrown into the back of a police van, along with 71 other pieces of human garbage. But Brad knows Jesus loves him. Jesus loves him so much, in fact, that Jesus gave him a wealthy father who will get him a damn good lawyer. The attorney will argue that Brad was the unfortunate victim of Riot Consciousness Syndrome, a fancy term describing how the moral resolve of an individual weakens in the highly charged emotional atmosphere of a large group. Brad will get off with a slap on the wrist for smashing that department store window and stealing that nice Italian leather jacket. Yep, Jesus really loves him!

But Brad was not happy about what he did or getting caught. Brad headed back to church, as you probably imagined he would. He can be found sitting attentively in those pews, listening to the preacher tell him that “without God, your life will be empty and evil will come in to fill the void.” His pastor tells him, “Put God in your life, and you’ll be good. Put the devil in your life, and you’ll be bad.”, and “There is no good without God.” But Brad notices that a number of non-religious friends he has are perfectly moral people, so he inquires as to how they can be moral without having God. His pastor told him what any good minister would, “Some are more moral than others, and Christian people are not perfect, but imagine how evil the world would be if there was no religion!” This satisfied Brad, so instead of considering that many of the irreligious people he knew would be considered morally superior to him by a long shot, he just chalked up his sins to “weaknesses of the flesh” and moved on, giving God the credit for his restoration to the fold!

I changed the name and tweaked a few details, but “Brad” is based on a real Christian man I know. Quite honestly, Brad well represents the moral integrity of the average Christian, albeit not counting the faithful fanatics, who have no lives outside of crossing the Ts’ and dotting the Is’ of their religious dogmas. Brad, like so many other unfortunate religious dupes, bought into the false idea that religion, Christianity in particular, equals good (or at least, not as much “bad”), and if people don’t have it, they would surely do evil. Sort of reminds me of this old story…

A woman was visiting a seaport, and while riding with a captain, asked, “What do the people of this town eat?” The captain replied, “Mostly fish.” The young lady continued, “I thought fish was a brain food, and yet these seem to be the most stupid people I ever saw”. The captain responded, “Imagine how stupid these people would be if they didn’t eat fish!”

Christian apologists offer us the exact same rationale; Christianity tells us that faith in Jesus produces good morality, and when we point out that Christians are no more (and, in fact, are sometimes less) moral than those with no faith at all, they tell us how immoral the world would be if we had no religion!

(JH)

17 comments:

Stardust said...

Many years ago, when my husband and I were still christians, we enrolled our children in a Lutheran school since we believed that would give them a better "moral" foundation for life. That was their advertisement...their "devout" staff and teachers, and so on. The pastor there was firm and very strict. He would tell stories at school chapel time about doing god's will, and to obey the ten commandments, etc. while wide-eyed kids listened to his words then went back to their classrooms to memorize bible verses and to continue their "christian" education.

Well, about a year or so into their schooling there, a big scandal arose. It leaked out that this pious pastor was having an affair with the second grade teacher! The second grade teacher's husband was the fifth grade teacher, and then the pastor's wife was the kindergarten teacher! This was a small school, only one teacher/classroom per grade, so half the school was affected when one teacher was fired, two left out of embarrassment of their spouses, and a whole congregation was affected by the excommunication of their pastor. Trying to explain why three teachers and a pastor all suddenly left at once to young children, and even the older ones was very difficult. This was probably the beginning of our questioning the relationship of religion and morality.

We now realize religion is not necessary to have morals and values.

sattvicwarrior said...

good post . thanks for sharing.
i think it would be WONDERFUL for the most part if we didnt HAVE religion, and other peoples dogma, infused with tactics of fear and self loathing, as taught by these horrid organizations , then it would give rise to man searching his own spirituality , and most likely would find out he is a pretty good creature by nature.

Twitch said...

im a christian who was raised protestant with all of the total depravity stuff, blah blah blah. man is no good, amoral.
after receiving a degree in Catholic historical theology, i began to wonder if that doctrine were true.
my question for you, who said that man is a "pretty good creature by nature" is: looking around at the world today, are you really convinced that man is good?
this is not an argument on my part; i am genuinely interested in your, and in other atheists' opinions on why the world BLOWS. wars, pedophiles, etc. and make no mistake, Christians play a large role in all of it. which leads me to believe that, indeed, we all suck.

Kaffinator said...

Sattivic...

"i think it would be WONDERFUL for the most part if we didnt HAVE religion, and other peoples dogma, infused with tactics of fear and self loathing, as taught by these horrid organizations..."

So instead of their dogma, you would prefer we have yours? On what authority to you demand my obeisance to your perspective?

Holman,

Good post. Christian apologists who commit the "stupid fish eaters" fallacy deserve a rap on the knuckles. Someone who claims that Christianity benefits the world should be able to back that up with, for example, studies that show how Christians give more of their time and money to good causes, or explain how it was Christian believers who brought about an end to slavery, or show how it was Christendom that originally put western science and medicine on their present successful course, etc.

That poor Brad fellow you described is missing something. It's not his beliefs that are causing all of that bad behavior, it is his lack of adherence to them. Nobody in his church is discipling him and that's a crime.

I must take issue with this point though:

> Quite honestly, Brad well represents the moral integrity of the average Christian.

The "average Christian" has been arrested for rioting, weasels his way out of due punishment, and cheats on his wife multiple times? I think you're way over the top here.

CFisher said...

I'm not sure what you hope to prove with this line of reasoning. Pulling a bad or hypocritical Christian out of the crowd does nothing to debunk Christianity. It is the equivalent of pointing at a psychiatrist who breaks doctor/patient confidentiality as proof that psychiatry is invalid as a medical practice.

It seems your problem is so much with Christ or Christianity as it is with Christians, and more specifically, American Christians.

To build a case against Christianity, you should attack it's basic principles. Show how things like "do unto others as you would have them do unto you" and so forth, are bad for individuals and society in general.

John W. Loftus said...

CFisher: It seems your problem is so much with Christ or Christianity as it is with Christians, and more specifically, American Christians.

The Christian system of faith can be judged by whether or not it makes a difference in someone's life, since it alone claims that God the Spirit resides in a Christian's life. It can be judged whether it makes a difference at all in Christians in general.

To build a case against Christianity, you should attack it's basic principles. Show how things like "do unto others as you would have them do unto you" and so forth, are bad for individuals and society in general.

This is a good challenge. Michael Martin in The Case Against Christianity has done so, in chapter 6 "Christian Ethics." I'll share some of these things here before too long.

Stardust said...

The question of "where do you get your morals?" comes up over and over again when christians are in debate with atheists. Even before christianity, society needed general guidelines to live by in order to try to maintain a safe and orderly environment in which to live. The most important human moral issues arise for most ethicists when human beings come together and begin to conflict with one another. Even though Jewish and Christian ethical systems, for example, importune human beings to love and obey their god, both faiths, in all of their divisions and sects, yet violate their ethical systems repeatedly and many times, violently. It is my point that morals and ethics are incorporated into religions for the good of societies because religion can spread desired moral behaviors to large groups of people within a society, therfore benefitting society as a whole. (This is sort of like the chicken and the egg question.)

Kaffinator said...

> It is my point that morals and ethics are incorporated into religions for the good of societies because religion can spread desired moral behaviors to large groups of people within a society, therfore benefitting society as a whole.

So you are saying that in general, we begin with desired moral behaviors, then we create a religion which codifies them, which then benefits society. Sounds nice, but the last time anybody attempted this, it was called communism, and it was a miserable failure. And by "failure" I don't mean "lost a game of checkers" but rather, millions of deaths and the utter collapse of a world superpower all in a few generations.

Christianity on the other hand appeared before it was codified into a secular empire at large (the Roman empire). The beliefs of Christianity weren't designed for the purpose of improving Roman society, in fact, Roman society actually fought Christianity for hundreds of years before adopting it.

Religion, when created and used as a tool to shape society, is invariably misused by those in power, and tends to result in horrific abuses. But Christianity, when pursued as a matter of good conscience before God, tends to produce model citizens.

John W. Loftus said...

Kaffinator, don't you have something better to do than to waste our time with your ignorance? There are Christians who can respond intelligently to our questions. You don't. Now go away. Graduate from High School and take a few college classes before you come back. There have been a great many civilizations down through the history of the world that had no Christian influence at all, and they are called great civilizations by all standards of their day. Now leave.

Brit Guy In The US said...

Firstly let me say that true Christianity is NOT a religion. I know that many professing to be Christians are religious. But true Christianity is having a relationship with Jesus and the Father.

The problem is that many people get confused by the difference between morality and true righteousness. I say true righteosness because there is an unholy righteousness known as Self righteousness. Now please let me explain, that morals are subjective, they can be determined by an individual or by a group or community of people. True righteousness on the other hand only comes from Christ. He paid the price for our sins and we can only be righteous through Him. That is why we can only come to the Fathert through Him. It is nothing we do ourselves that can make us righteous, i.e. we cannot earn our way into heaven, we can only accept the free gift of God's salvation by accepting the gift of salvation by accepting Jesus as our Lord and savior, and making Him Lord over our life. Now let me talk about gracefor a minute. Grace is something that we can receive once we are saved. It is a privelege and not to be used as a license to sin which I am aware many do. But God looks at the heart of each person, and he will judge from the heart. I am well aware that there is much deception in the body of Christ, but this is a sign of the end times. There is only a small what we call remnant of true believers (the ones who desire real truth, where there hearts are right in Gods heart). But just because many are not acting right in the body of Christ, does that mean God's word is not true. He gave all of us free will.

Kaffinator said...

1) I didn't say all civilizations without Christian influence were necessarily horrible. Whether or not my ignorance prevents me from responding intelligently as you suppose, if you want to critique me it will help you to respond to what I actually said.

2) If your new editorial policy is simply to ban dissent, then by all means, go ahead and block my account. Because I expect I'm going to continue to dissent from quite a bit of what is posted here.

John W. Loftus said...

I don't have a high level of tolerance for ignorance posing as intelligence. Even now you claim that what I want to ban is dissent. That too is stupid. Again, dissent is welcome, but you continually make stupid comments.

paul said...

Brit guy,

I just must respond to your post. You laid so many of my questions to rest with your insights, thank you for taking the time and thoughtfully giving to us.

Anonymous said...

"The Church is a hospital for sinners, not a museum for Saints"

Anonymous said...

The thing you fail to realize is, the best behaved Christian is no more righteous than the worst behaved non-Christian by his own merit. It is only because Christ lived perfectly and died as the ultimate sacrifice that people appear righteous at the judgment. No one is good.

Anonymous said...

God is STILL murderous, bloodthirsty sadistic killer!

Anonymous said...

So one man suffered on a cross and now because he died we have to serve him. Don't count the others that died before him. They don't matter. Because he died once we have to serve him. Fuck you god. You're such a phony. Religion was made to control. I just wish I could meet the genious mother fuckers who came up with this scheme. Assholes.