Monday, December 17, 2012

Morality Will Not Save You

This response to the horrific tragedy in Newport, CT has me reeling, yet, given the white, middle class, American church's propensity for blaming the victim, I'm not surprised. 

School shooting? Shouldn't have taken God out of public schools. (Pretty sure the Amish allow Him in their schools, and yet...?)

People feel the need to categorize. If we can find a reason that excludes us, then we can breathe easy that it won't happen here. I understand that, but when Christians are not just falling into that trap, but rather leading the charge, I'm nauseated. How did we get to this place that, instead of simply weeping with those who weep, we feel the need to point the finger? They must have done something wrong.

Because in our current theology, only those who do "wrong" things are subject to tragedy. Morality saves us. We are a group who have elevated morality so high that we equate it with righteousness. We are so focused on living a moral, good life, or appearing to anyway, that we ignore the hurt around us. It's exhausting to worry about yourself and your behavior all the time.

We have convinced ourselves that by living a "pure" life, we have separated ourselves from the world and will win people over by our goodness. 

No one will ever be saved because you picketed an abortion clinic or refused to have a beer on a Saturday night! It is simply unhelpful to the lost if you have your radio set to the Christian station and refuse to sit through an r-rated movie. 

What if being separate means we care for those no one else will care for? What if it means putting aside our own comfort or future or wants in order to pour into the world around us?

The only way people will be saved is if we get our hands dirty and our hearts broken. If we jump in with those stuck in the mire and begin to lift them out. If we open our homes to the orphan, if we financially support the pregnant teen, if we provide respite to the parents of a child with mental illness, if we look beyond our noses to the wounded world around us. 

Someone I know reposted this article, which I love, on facebook and rebutted it, stating that God is a jealous God and that He is just and that He rebuked leaders and didn't worry about "offending." 

I would respond that the leaders He rebuked were religious leaders, who were too busy pointing fingers to lend a hand. He is a jealous God. I believe He is jealous that, in our pride, we have exalted our own goodness and morality and placed them on the throne next to Him. 

I suspect that it makes Him angry that in a time of unspeakable tragedy, there are those who would sit back in His name and say, "Tsk, tsk. Too bad for you that you brought this on yourself." 

Our pride is sickening. But worse, it negates the gospel. If I can be good enough to find favor with God, then why do I need Jesus?

The Bible clearly states that it rains on the just and the unjust. (Matthew 5:45) Jesus said that in the world we will have trouble. (John 16:33) The Apostle Paul was shipwrecked multiple times and imprisoned. The early Christians were burned alive and mauled in coliseums. The cold reality is that this life will, at times, seem unbearable, no matter how "good" we are. 

Instead of pointing fingers or pontificating on the "why", can we not just weep and grieve with those whose world has just collapsed? Can we not empathize to the point of gut wrenching sobs? Can we not be vulnerable and humble enough to admit that the only thing that saved our own children was location?

And can we not look beyond our noses and reach out to the broken hearted around us? Instead of invoking the name of Jesus while pointing a finger, can we not just whisper His name while lending a hand?


  1. YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. "And can we not look beyond our noses and reach out to the broken hearted around us? Instead of invoking the name of Jesus while pointing a finger, can we not just whisper His name while lending a hand?"

    Should touch any heart. Touched mine. Thank you.

  3. oh, approval! i bet i commented twice. Three times now. Sorry. I blame the cold meds.

    1. Missy, you made me laugh! Thank you!

  4. So well said, so true