March 14, 2008

Holding Christians to a Higher Moral Standard

It does not seem fair to hold Christians to a higher moral standard, does it? Morality has nothing to do with supernatural entities, and both Christians and atheists are perfectly capable of operating in a moral way. And yet, it would seem that increased responsibility for Christians is precisely what Billy Graham advocated in this 2006 column.

Graham tells a Christian writing to his column,

Because you understand more clearly than some people do what God expects of you, in one way you are even more guilty in God's eyes than they are.
While Graham rightly concludes that non-believers are hardly free from responsibility for committing immoral acts, he suggests that believers are even more so.
You have even less excuse than someone with no understanding of God's Word, because you know what is right. But do you also understand how spiritually dangerous it is for you to keep living in sin? Perhaps in the back of your mind you think you'll repent and turn to Christ someday -- but how do you know that day will ever come? One of the most sobering verses in all the Bible is this: "It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God" (Hebrews 10:31).
I think Graham's description of the god in which he believes is appropriate. I would not want to "fall into the hands" of such a cruel and monstrous entity either. Good thing that no such horror exists!

If one believes, as I suspect Graham does, that the Christian god is the source of all morality, then I suppose it might be difficult to escape his conclusion that a Christian somehow deserves more punishment than a a non-believer for committing an immoral act. I prefer to see the common humanity shared by Christians and atheists and recognize that we share the need to be moral and the consequences for failing to do so.

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