The Danger Of Turning A Good Thing Into A Moral Thing

All of us have a tendency to take something that is good, at least in our opinion, and add moral weight to it. Public school, home school, and private school can all be good things. Organic food can be a good thing. Dressing up for church or dressing down for church can be good things. Dating, courting, and dorting, can all be good things. Watching television can be a good thing and abstaining from television can be a good thing.

The danger, however, is when we take a good thing and we turn it into a moral thing. When we make a good thing into something that other people must do if they are going to be truly spiritual. When we take a good thing and add it onto justification by faith as the way to God’s approval.

Principle Vs. Practice

All of us are tempted to do this. A lot of it has to do with our experiences. I was homeschooled growing up, and I see both the spiritual and educational benefits of homeschooling. But, I need to be careful that I don’t start to believe that homeschooling is morally superior to other education methods. I need to be very careful to distinguish between principles and practices. (For the record, I send my kids to public school.)

The principle is that parents must raise their children in the fear of the Lord. Homeschooling is one practice for accomplishing that. However, I also know many godly parents who have raised their children in the fear of the Lord through the practice of sending their kids to public school. These parents are just as committed to their children as the parents that homeschool.

It’s the same with relationships. The principle is that young men and women must pursue relationships with absolute purity as they look ahead to the day they are married. The practice of courtship is one way for this to happen. It can happen through dating as well. A young man and woman can “date” and still be pure and pursue intentionality in their relationship.

The Danger of Unnecessary Guilt

Why do we need to be so careful to avoid turning something good into something moral? Because when we do this, we place a burden of guilt on people that God does not place on them. When we say that homeschooling is the only way, we make those who don’t homeschool feel guilty and out of place. We place a weight on them that God does not place on them. When we say that it’s wrong to play video games, and we tell others that it’s wrong, we place a weight of guilt upon them that God does not place on them. And we steal their joy.

So what’s the solution? First, we hold fast to justification by faith. A Christian is a Christian because they trust in Jesus as savior and bow to him as Lord. Nothing more, nothing less.

Then, we hold fast to what is clear in the Bible. That is our authority. We shouldn’t tell people that they can’t date. We should tell people that they must pursue purity, love, wisdom, and counsel in every relationship. We can’t tell people that they must read their Bibles every single day. We can tell them that they should seek to delight in the law of the Lord. We need to hold fast where God holds fast, and be flexible in the other areas.

Stephen Altrogge

I'm a husband, dad, writer, & Mixed Martial Arts Salsa Dancing Champion. I created The Blazing Center. I've also written some books which people seem to like.

10 comments

  • ” If you really love Jesus you won’t wear pants to church” my Pastor and his wife said me…. I love your honesty and humor in all your articles and FB feed. Sometimes they make me laugh out loud. Sometimes they make me think. I do love Jesus AND I wear pants to church now with no guilt.

  • Interesting! I am an organist on a large pipe organ. I cannot play both feet on the pedalboard in a skirt. Sometimes I have to go from the top of the pedalboard to the bottom in a split second! One does not do this with a skirt in the way!!! If I have to wear a robe, it must be unzipped from the bottom, and thrown behind me to hang on the back of the bench. I do not own a dress, but always dress up from the nose to the toes for Sunday worship.

  • I spent a long time believing that some good things resulted in moral excellence. I thought that if I homeschooled and my kids practiced courtship, I would automatically have godly adult children. That expectation died painfully hard. That being said, we still homeschool because we believe it is God’s plan for OUR family and dorting seems to fit my kids personalities. We no longer idolize either movement as the true paths to success but instead do our best to live everyday in gratitude for His grace, working hard but leaving the results to Him.

  • Thanks Stephen, always a timely subject. It was addressed by Martyn Lloyd Jones and, in my opinion, ignored.

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  • Thank you so much, I agree in everything. .
    Not being raised in a christian home, I took the word of God as my guideline, after I was bornagain.

  • I’d say I agreed with your Principle vs Practice argument overall, until I got to “we can’t tell people that they must read their Bible every day”, which I feel like the Bible does most certainly teach. Perhaps I’m splitting hairs and you’d agree a Christ follower OUGHT to consume daily bread? Without Daily Bread, i.e. the Word of God, how are we to grow spiritually, in godliness and contentment in Christ?
    For the record, I homeschooled my kids (now 25,28) and just recently admonished a group of homeschooling Moms to make sure they’d sought God FIRST in their decision or were possibly disobedient to His call on their lives, as I’d been when I RAN from His call to homeschool for 2 years! Ah, the freedom we’re given in Christ yet desire to dictate bondage in the life of brothers & sisters~

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