Relative Moral Ambiguity

On Mondays I attend a small gathering of Southern Baptist pastors who affiliate with our local association (yes, I’m a Southern Baptist). Yesterday during the preliminary chit chat (which I just love) the subject of hunting came up. One pastor was talking about conveniently forgetting to put a plug in his shotgun (required by law to prevent more than three shells being loaded into the weapon at a time), but he does purchase a licence because he doesn’t want his name in the paper for violating the law. He reasons that he can say he forgot to put the plug in and thus skirt the law, or at least the humiliation of being found out to be a law breaker, but going without a licence would be a “clear” violation of the law. Another pastor was laughingly telling a story about someone he knew who never bothers with a licence. “When he gets up and feels like huntin’, he just goes a huntin’. He don’t worry ’bout no licence.”

After this, the conversation turned to a book I have recently read by David Kinnaman of the Barna Group entitled unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks About Christianity. While I’m not exactly sure what to do with the information in the book, I have no doubt as to the credibility of the findings it reveals, or the fact that the information can be useful in understanding the culture in which we’re called to minister. I shared the following paragraph which comes from a chapter called Hypocrisy:

In virtually every study we [The Barna Group] conduct, representing thousands of interviews every year, born-again Christians fail to display much attitudinal or behavioral evidence of transformed lives. For instance, based on a study released in 2007, we found that most of the lifestyle activities of born-again Christians were statistically equivalent to those of non-born-agains. When asked to identify their activities over the last thirty days, born-again believers were just as likely to bet or gamble, to visit a pornographic website, to take something that did not belong to them, to consult a medium or psychic, to physically fight or abuse someone, to have consumed enough alcohol to be considered legally drunk, to have used an illegal, nonprescription drug, to have said something to someone that was not true, to have gotten back at someone for something he or she did, and to have said mean things behind another person’s back.

No difference.

As we talked about this quote the strangest thing happened. The ones who had been boasting about their own moral flexibility became the accusers of the Christians who make these statistics true. Conversation then turned to the generations which are currently emerging (called Busters and Mosaics) and how they are conditioned to operate under a set of values, for better or for worse, that are not consistent with the moral values associated with Christianity. Now things got quite heated, and the anger turned to those young people who denied absolute anything and were going to hell and it’s their own fault! Sinners!

I guess we call that irony.

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