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.

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.

  • http://twitter.com/stephenaltrogge @stephenaltrogge

    You're welcome!

  • http://etimodnar.livejournal.com Kathryn

    Two things that have bugged me recently.

    1) Some people have large families (and that's great!) and they say that they trust God to provide for them and however many children they have, therefore no birth control (and their attitudes ought to be commended!). But they tend to look down on those who do use birth control as not trusting God as much *cough splutter*. [insert flailing here]

    2) A friend of mine is saving like made to afford the house and land package she's bought with her husband. They have plan that they'll upgrade to a shiner and bigger house and land package in the future. Me and my husband have plans to be renters and one day maybe own a very tiny modest home because the market here is stupid-expensive. But that's TOTALLY ok for her to do what she wants with her money. She's not being reckless. She wants a big family so a big house would be very sensible. WHY AM I JUDGING HER ON THIS!!? [insert flailing here]

    So in other words, yay for freedom in Christ! Yay for using our wisdom in matters that are not right/wrong.

    • http://etimodnar.livejournal.com Kathryn

      *saving like mad

  • trillianewbell

    Very helpful and applicable. Seems to be the theme of many discussions as of late.

  • Sarah

    Good article! I have struggled with this very thing (from both sides) for a long time. I sometimes struggle with feeling that my life has to meet the expectations of my Christian peers. God is showing me see that just because we do something different doesn't mean it is immoral or wrong (as long as the principal remains true to God's word). We place too many demands for rigid perfection on ourselves and each other that grace gets lost by the wayside. Thanks for the article!

  • http://Www.lorialexander.blogspot.com Lori

    Fabulous post! Whenever we made boundaries for our children, we used Scripture but even those can be up for interpretation, like dating, etc. Thanks for a great read.

  • Trishia

    Agree 100%!!

  • chrisdavis

    Stephen. Very well written and articulated. Good job.

  • http://www.WisdomsGate.org Israel Wayne

    Stephen, I am also a homeschooled graduate. You are applying the Normative Principle to the issues of Education and Relationships, assuming that anything is allowable that God has not specifically condemned in the Bible (as opposed the Regulative Principle). The fallacy you make, however, is that you assume that God has not spoke on the point of government schooling, when in fact he has, and he opposes it:
    http://www.christianworldview.net/2011/a-christia
    http://www.christianworldview.net/2011/psalm-1-an
    http://www.christianworldview.net/2011/robin-hood

    • Melody

      My problem with homeschooling is the people that teach their children that they are superior to my children who are only saved by grace.

      Get it? Only saved by grace?