I have been reading a book called Waiting for the Gospel by Douglas John Hall. Most people don't like books with a theology twist, but I do. Book like these connect modern thoughts with historical theology which makes me think that some of the issues that we think about are not new.
The issue I have been thinking about is what role does religion play in morals. Am I as a pastor suppose to be the moral police? Are religion and morals two separate things? Do you need to believe in a God and that shapes your values?
I used to believe (last week) that they were separate. Faith is about God. Morals are about social order or how we live our life. God (Jesus) forgives us of our breach of moral behavior. Faith in God is something different, so I thought.
But the question is why are you moral? Why do you not do or take or steal if it benefits you over someone else? The reason is that you have a reason. You refrain (or are disciplined) because you have a reason to refrain. You care for some reason. God (Jesus) teaches us to honor others and not ourselves. Jesus tells us we are happier in community. Jesus teaches that there are benefit to living a good life. We are instructed that an undisciplined life leads to disappointment.
A person wouldn't fall in love if he didn't really care for the other, unless he saw a way to get what he wants through his love, then that is not love at all. A business man would not steal from a competitor if he thought that behavior was not fair and would not what the competitor to steal from him, unless, he thought he could get away with it---his selfish interest over the other.
We believe all of this because we believe that there is more to life then our own self interest and we are happiest when we not yield to our selfish desires. We believe that because of our faith in God.
Therefore, morals are shaped by our faith. Therefore the lack of moral behavior is correlated to the lack of reason to act, or to say it another way, lack of having faith. Someone of faith has morals. Someone with morals has a reason.
Pastor Gerry 08/13/2013