Found another write up I did a few years ago. In attempts to maintane some momentum here we go:
In doing youth ministry for the last five or six years, I have done a lot of reflecting on my own adolescent experience having grown up in the church.One thing that I have always had a hard time with is morality being preached within its walls as well as beyond its walls. So, recently I was reading a book by Donald Miller, Searching for God Knows What, that reprovoked these thoughts. Allow me to share some of these with you.
Morality is easy, really.
It’s a given. Morality is obvious. Perhaps one might say that morality is an absolute. Morality, simply put, is a “system of ideas of right and wrong conduct” according to the dictionary. However, it’s not so black and white. Jesus pointed to the “morality” of the Pharisees as garbage. He authored a new law of love and relationship with his words and life, to God and all of creation, from which morality could flow.
I remember hearing “do this”, “don’t do that”, and, “that’s that”. Or hearing sermons on the ten-commandments from which the Old Testament can of God’s wrath was opened, incorporating anger rhetoric and smite theology of punishment and doom. Followed by a list of what God hates and how God cannot be in the midst of unholiness, etc. We have all heard it a number of times, really. This tends to be the status quo of a Sunday morning. Morality often becomes the working definition of what a Christian is or does, as if to present the gospel (good news) of morality.
What I am attempting to hit on is the fallacy that we are to be “moral” people. This is backwards, and Jesus did not teach it. Yet we’ve embraced it. We take “morality” as rules of conduct or a quasi-legal system. It has become easy to give into the lie that we are called to push a moral agenda on other people, boasting that you are immoral and we are not, we’re in and you’re out. This was the sin of the Pharisees which Jesus found bogusly evil.
It becomes easy for us to create groups or denominations that reflect on scripture, extracting verses with no regard to context or the larger picture of God’s narrative of love. We use scripture to back (narrow) moral perspectives absent of love, compounding a narcissistic passion that brings out war vernacular against a fallen immoral people. I almost wish it were this easy really. Then, I could justify or rationalize these conventional means of fighting a culture war for morality, or a political war for morality, or taking back a nation here on earth for morality’s sake. It reminds me of the Pharisees who wanted recognition or acknowledgement, a sense of dominant existence within this fallen system as opposed to that man Jesus who was about rescuing others from a fallen system. Imagine how it would have gone with the woman at the well if Jesus came from a stance of “morality” rather then a position of love and relationship. Morality with discipline and/or manipulation can seem or look good, but it can be blinding to the point of justifying genocide, and is not the heart of Jesus. Morality is one of those things that follow loving God, and loving others. When we allow Jesus to possess our heart, morality falls into place. … (or…”morality is the result”).