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!