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Explaining Godly Morality To Your Kids

Explaining Godly Morality To Your Kids

There is an aspect of Christian thought that falls into the moral philosophy category that all children should know.

I know when I use words like “moral philosophy,” some readers might began to fall asleep. Such a phrase can sound like a discussion reserved for academics. However, this topic is rather easy and exceedingly important.

There are ways of thinking about what is right and wrong that is different than what the Bible teaches. For example the current mainstream way the world views morality is through a lens called moral relativism. This means that they believe right and wrong can differ from person to person. It’s all based upon emotion and if it feels good it must be good.

We say things like, “to each their own” or “as long as they aren’t hurting anyone who cares?” The reason this view is so popular is because it makes everyone his or her own judge of what is right and wrong. Most people believe they are a good person, so it makes sense for them to have a morality that always reaffirms that.

There is a big problem with this view, though, and teaching it to your children hinders them to see the value of believing in God. If morality is relative then nothing is really evil.

Each society would be free to invent whatever rules they want. If enough people deem something to be good, an entire country could justify doing evil simply by redefining what is right and wrong.

This is exactly what happened in Germany under Nazi rule. Good was redefined by those in power to such a degree that the murder of Jews was considered a morally good thing.

When the Nazi soldiers who operated the concentration camps were brought before the world court, they appealed to moral relativism. They claimed that it was okay, according to the rules their society had constructed, and just because our group disagreed with their group did not make their actions evil.

This should really help you understand the problems with moral relativism. We responded by reminding them that there is a rule of law above man’s, and because we rejected moral relativism, we could punish those who committed those horrendous crimes.

Though our world might call certain things good or bad, they are only good or bad at this current time and are subject to change rather quickly. We have seen just how fast morality can change in the last 50 years. What was acceptable on television and in the bedroom has totally been redefined by a world with no compass to guide these changes other than the feelings of those in charge.

This is why it is important to give your kids the gift of understanding biblical morality. We are not slaves to our impulses and emotions. We have something outside ourselves that guides and directs us. We don’t have to try to keep up with an ever-changing world and the new rules it invents. We can know for certain what is good and what is evil because God has clearly communicated it to us.

The way I explain this to young kids is to ask some basic questions. Is it wrong to steal? Did you know some people like to steal? They find it exciting and think the world owes them something, so they don’t believe it is wrong.

If someone likes to steal is it still wrong? Of course it is, because our feelings don’t determine truth. Sometimes you are going to feel like something is good and true, but we must always test it according to what God has said so we don’t make the same mistake as those who think it is okay to steal.

Chick fil A’s Golden Cow

Chick fil A’s Golden Cow

There is a scene in the first Spider-Man movie from 2002 that pops into my head fairly often. It’s the scene where the villain tells Spider-Man, “the only thing the world loves more than a hero, is to watch a hero fall.”

I felt like this statement was true over the last week as pastors and bloggers rushed to condemn a restaurant because they changed which charities they financially support. Why would the collective evangelical voice be in such uproar? To be fair they still give millions of dollars to end hunger, and help the poor and marginalized.

It almost seems like this Christian outrage is a seasonal allergy. Remember when everyone got upset at Starbucks for their red cups? That was around this same time of year. 

This overreaction gets picked up by a media that loves to fan the flames. Our response seemed so quick and fierce, going so far to say that this fast food giant had betrayed us somehow.

If you haven’t noticed I haven’t mentioned it by name except for the title because I want you to remember that we are talking about a restaurant that serves good fries and chicken and not an individual. 

Restaurants are mostly amoral. There are a few exceptions that use immorality as the main theme for their customers, but that would not apply here. Basically, restaurants are just buildings with a kitchen and seats. They cannot be good or bad morally; that is reserved only for individuals.

But it is not an individual we are angry at; it’s some unspoken collective of leadership that we think is caving to social pressure. You don’t know the names of these people, nor do you know all the reasons for this decision. Facts like this should firmly apply pressure to the break pedal of our brains.

I think one of the reasons people get so upset by this is because of the value they associate with this food chain. It’s like a Golden Calf that makes them feel like their own values are good and righteous.

In a society of believers with a shallow faith, some people need these little victories to make them feel as though they are winning the culture war. It’s totally possible some have delegated their charity and voice to such an entity, and when it doesn’t meet their standards, they fear they might have to do the work themselves.

I’m of the opinion that this fast food chain still has better morals then those who critique or praise their every decision. They give more money to charity than many believers; they are always closed on Sunday, but many of us don’t always go to church on Sunday. Their staff is always friendly even if someone is rude; we tend to be nice only when other people are nice to us. Lastly, they serve everyone, and we tend to give attention to those who are similar to us.

I imagine that if they still had the service and food that they do, it would still be extremely popular, regardless of what their founders believed. I’ve never decided which restaurant to eat at by asking what their charitable contributions are. Instead of us being mad at them, I think it’s more reasonable for them to be mad at us for acting more like the world and less like Jesus.

The wrong kind of holiness

The wrong kind of holiness

A few days ago a young mother came to get some food and clothes that our church offers to people in need. She was in her mid 30s and was wearing a gay pride t-shirt. As I visited with her, she began to tell me about the difficult path her life is on at the moment.

After being injured from work and let go, she struggled to make ends meet, and her wife was diagnosed with bone cancer. They were doing all they could just to keep her alive and healthy as long as possible, but it was getting worse.

For those of us who are comfortable, it can be difficult to imagine what it would be like to struggle so hard in life.

After our visit I invited her and her wife to our church. She smiled and told me that I seemed like a nice person, but she wouldn’t feel very comfortable due to their last visit to a church that went south really quickly. She explained how the last church they had visited told her kids that unless their parents get a divorce they would all go to hell. As someone who has been damaged by the church, stories such as these just tear my heart apart.

After some more discussion, I promised her that at our church she would feel loved and supported as her wife battled cancer. Sure, we may have a different moral foundation when it comes to sexuality, but this wasn’t the time or the place to focus on that issue.

Most LGBTQ people know what Christians believe on this subject, but what they don’t know is how much God loves them. They don’t know this because all we communicate is justice and not compassion.

In the churches pursuit of holiness, we have spent a lot of time talking about what is sinful. We have worked hard to cleanse ourselves of all unrighteousness, but have we done so in the wrong way?

If your pursuit of holiness makes you look down your nose at those who are lost then you didn’t pursue holiness at all. You pursued pride.  Don’t forget that you were once like everyone else, and it was Gods grace alone that set you free.

This conversation made me think of the story of Zaccheaus.  He was hated by Jews and Romans—a social outcast of the highest degree. Jesus saw this outcast and told him, “Hurry, I must have dinner at your house.”

Instead of being disgusted by his sins, like all the other religious people, Jesus saw someone who was begging to be set free. The love of Jesus was so strong that Zaccheaus repented and was saved. Jesus showed him grace, and the Spirit did the convicting. 

This may be difficult for some of you because you have spent very little time with anyone from the LGBTQ community. You may have the urge to bring up the obvious issues as soon as possible, maybe even the first day they show up.

If you are wondering when you should show grace and when you should speak truth just ask yourselves how long would you need to know someone before they started asking personal questions about your sex life?

The relationship comes first and then the theology. We have inherited a ministry of kindness and should copy what Jesus did.

We should run to the LGBTQ community and invite them over for dinner—not because we approve of their morality but because they are people to be loved just like anyone else.

If you are truly seeking holiness then being a morality snob is not part of the formula. Lost people will always act like lost people. They have no other choice. So open the doors of your church a little wider, know people a little better, love a little more and watch what the Holy Spirit does to the spiritual vagabonds who wander in.

Kanye made me do it

Kanye made me do it

In 1979 Bob Dylan was the king of counter culture when he shocked the world by releasing an album that had songs detailing his Christian conversion. The evangelical world rejoiced at this cultural victory, though that celebration would only last until around 1982 when he returned to Judaism.

This kind of history gives some people pause in celebrating the recent public conversion of Kanye West to Christianity. We are fully aware that it’s not the beginning of the race but the end that shows if a person has truly converted.

That being said, I will gladly celebrate anyone who says they have converted to Christianity and speaks boldly about God. I’ve listened to his many interviews, and Kanye seems to be on point. He even states that he is not a theologian because he is a new convert, which is a sign of great humility. His wife, who is one of the most influential women in our culture, even posted three simple words to her Instagram account, “Jesus is King.”

In some weird way I feel embolden by the way Kanye talks so openly about Jesus. Lately, it has seemed as though the culture was winning and not the Kingdom. Pop culture and television spend a fair amount of time mocking the Christian faith. We are portrayed as dumb and naïve. The most popular shows on television have been so full of violence, nudity and language that I could not participate in the cultural conversations around these shows. It felt as though we had been pushed back into the corner and forced to wear a dunce cap.

Christians were becoming culturally irrelevant; churches all around me are shutting their doors, and it is getting harder and harder to reach people with the Gospel. I think we just needed this win. I know, theologically, we already have won. The battle is over, but the human side of me was a little discouraged. It just feels really good to hear someone who was such a cultural force say they were wrong and Jesus is king.

Kanye West has talked more about Jesus in a week than some Christians have talked about him in years. Perhaps this is the permission that some of you needed in order to be more bold about your faith. Sometimes, just being reminded of how radically you have been changed can re-light that old fire burning within you.

To see someone on primetime television talk about being saved by Jesus is a reminder that the culture will always need a king. You know His name; you know His Gospel, and if you see me standing on the street corner declaring “Jesus is King,” well, Kanye made me do it.

How every Christian can make an impact

How every Christian can make an impact

What’s your calling? This a very “Christian way” to ask how you participate in the work that God is already doing in this world.

I ask this question regularly, and most of the time the only response is, “I don’t know.” It seems strange that we still struggle with this because we’ve taken spiritual gift tests, been to seminars or had a pastor help us get “plugged in” at our local church.

In spite of all of these things, many people still just don’t know where they fit in.

Perhaps I was lucky when it comes to this. I’ve always been a talker and a writer, so talking and writing about God was an easy match. It also helped that I had no other skill to fall back on, if this course of action did not bear fruit.

It’s possible that the ease with which I found a way to be a part of God’s work has some implications to those who are struggling. God wants you to do what you enjoy doing. Although that advice is simple, I do think I might be able to be even more helpful.

As I thought longer about this, I realized that, although I do love to teach and write, those are simply the gateways to do something I find even more fulfilling. The way I serve God the most is by helping people see God more fully.

My vocation isn’t my calling. However, it does allow me the opportunity to get one-on-one time with someone and to help them move forward in their life.  It would be easy for me to sit in my office studying and writing all day without talking to anyone. The real joy doesn’t come from the sermon I preach or some article I write. The real joy comes from talking with someone, anyone about why I love God so much.

Using your gift to find your place in the church isn’t your ultimate calling. Loving those around you with the love of God is.

Perhaps we have made it so complicated because everyone thinks they need to find that one thing, that one area of ministry, so that they can serve God with their full potential. Yes, it is great if you find your niche, but it’s even greater if you just love those around you.

Oftentimes we tell someone that if they are good at budgeting then help the church budget their money or teach a class on godly finances. There is some truth to such advice, but what about those who don’t like their jobs and are not really sure what they are good at?

I do think this is one of the areas where we have painted with too small a brush. Your calling is the same as mine. My main calling is not to be a preacher—I know this because eventually I will retire—but I know I still have a calling on my life.

My vocation does not define me. My calling is to love God and to love my neighbor. If you want to figure out how to serve better, start by loving people better. Be more patient, kinder, more generous. As you do these things, talk to friends and coworkers about your love for God. Then your words and actions will combine to be a beautiful light in the darkness.

This is the calling we all have on our lives, and if you are able to be more specific then great! If not, that does not make you less important to the Kingdom.