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Moralism is not the root of Christianity

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Posted: Wednesday, November 14, 2012 5:15 am

Last week, I accompanied my roommate to CVS pharmacy. He needed to refill a prescription, and I was trying to avert a minor catastrophe by replacing some lost lip balm. No one likes crusty lips, and mine get so dry, they can spark brush fires if I’m not careful.

At the cashier’s suggestion, I swiped my roommate’s CVS card, netting him some get-out-of-sick-free points for the next time he felt like vomiting. “Next time” came sooner than expected, though, and we qualified for 20 percent off a flu shot. He offered it to me, but I had only planned to vaccinate my lips to avoid judgment by all the pretty people.

I didn’t end up getting my arm numbed for the rest of the day, but my trip left me waxing philosophical.

Shots are the modern medical marvel — the veritable cure in a syringe. Inoculations weaken the infectious agent and strip it of its virulent potency to allow the body to build up immunity to a dud. No matter how strong it is down the road, the host is essentially “cured” because the body remembers the dud and can immediately reject and fight it.

Don’t you love how easy it is to draw spiritual parallels from the natural world?

We’ve been inoculated. Something extraordinary dropped in our laps, and we reject it based on a weak substitute we encountered before.

In case you were wondering, I’m talking about Jesus. It’s, like, my thing.

To be clear, Jesus’ end game isn’t to violently kill us like some form of ebola, but the analogy is useful to paint a word picture.

Morals are a good road map to lead us in the right direction, but moralism wasn’t Jesus’ message. He treated morality like branches that needed to be trimmed; he went straight for the root (or heart) of the problem. His words and his principles meant to show us our need for God, not to become the thing that we worship in and of itself.

Isn’t that what happened, though?

Christians became experts at lecturing gays on the virtues and sacredness of marriage while we sleep around en masse and divorce each other at the same rate as non-Christians.

Sermons admonish people to “clean up” their behaviors, do good deeds and be good. It’s a wonderful sentiment, but it’s just not biblical.

Feel free to fact check me.

It’s no wonder many of us think matters of spirituality come down to which sports team you grew up liking.

Christian moralism is a weak, attenuated spirituality compared to the potency of Jesus. I’d reject that crap, too.

Forcing a bunch of dying people to eat more healthily when they have a tumor growing inside them is pointless. Trying a lot won’t cut it. Jesus didn’t come to simply give a moral code. He came to write a new reality on our hearts.

We’ve missed the point by accepting the dud. Rules can restrain one’s actions, but only grace can transform the heart.

Christianity is not about attaining personal happiness, doing good things or being more moral than people around us. It cannot be summarized by gold-plated crucifixes and tacky jewelry from our religious yesterdays.

Jesus came to revolutionize our roots. He took the death penalty so everyone who stood condemned could have his life.

The way of Jesus is not only an ongoing story of supernatural discipline, but also one of divine adoption. Friends, God is not looking for adherents. He’s looking for sons and daughters, and he’s calling our names.

I can’t say I blame the disillusioned and incensed masses for rejecting the impotence of institutionalized Christianity. It’s lame.

Perhaps it’s time to actually try Jesus.

Ryan Galloway is a religion senior at UF. His column appears on Wednesdays. You can contact him via [email protected].

Welcome to the discussion.

7 comments:

  • Uncle B posted at 2:48 pm on Wed, Nov 14, 2012.

    Uncle B Posts: 260

    @ sjams:
    That makes perfect sense!

     
  • Cinnamon Seraph posted at 2:46 pm on Wed, Nov 14, 2012.

    Cinnamon Seraph Posts: 1

    happy birthday!

    also, crucified it. I don't know how you do it, but keep it up. what you're doing is necessary. you're not alone, and you never have been. proud of you, sir.

     
  • sjams posted at 1:26 pm on Wed, Nov 14, 2012.

    sjams Posts: 2

    @I like penguins: It's an analogy...the unhealthy elderly people correlate to us and healthy eating correlates to Christian moralism

     
  • sjams posted at 1:25 pm on Wed, Nov 14, 2012.

    sjams Posts: 2

    @Uncle B: He did die. When you sin, you face punishment, and the penalty for sin is death. Instead of having all of us die for our sins, He decided to sacrifice himself instead for all of us. He could do that because He never sinned. When He came back to life, He conquered death and so it began that He now decided who dies and who gets to live forever. How is that decision made? He gave that decision to each of us; do we want to be with Jesus or not?

     
  • I like penguins posted at 12:18 pm on Wed, Nov 14, 2012.

    I like penguins Posts: 4

    I'm pretty sure that the tumor growing inside those unhealthy elderly people was brought about by their lack of nutrition/being a part of the medicated masses of America/following vaccination guidelines/etc...not by their belief/non-belief in Jesus.

     
  • Administrator posted at 11:27 am on Wed, Nov 14, 2012.

    Administrator Posts: 76

    Who's Jesus?

     
  • Uncle B posted at 9:56 am on Wed, Nov 14, 2012.

    Uncle B Posts: 260

    "He took the death penalty so everyone who stood condemned could have his life."

    Jesus is dead? The bible says Jesus was only dead for about two days. That's no death penalty!