The Moral Outrage of the Unbeliever

By Robin Schumacher
Originally posted on

Single Page/Printer Friendly
Continued from Page One

A False Moral Grounding

There's no question that passions (sometimes in the extreme) exist in the non-Christian for the moral positions they assume. There's also passion in the Christian for the ethical stances they hold. What's the difference?

First, as I've discussed elsewhere, the non-Christian has no objective foundation for their morality. It's not that they need God to act morally [3], but without Him, there is no basis for objective moral standards and duties.

This fact is not up for debate as various atheists such as Kai Nielsen have pointed out:
We have been unable to show that reason requires the moral point of view or that really rational persons need not be egotists or classical amoralists. Reason doesn't decide here. The picture I have painted for you here is not a pleasant one for me and reflection on this actually depresses me. Pure, practical reason even with the good knowledge of the facts will not take you to morality." [4]
This leaves the non-Christian to their own personal opinions or prevailing cultural mores to draw their always-changing moral lines in the sand. Such is not the case with the Christian who points to a never-changing God and His Word for deciding right from wrong.

Second, the passion the non-Christian has is driven by self and a strong craving to satisfy their desires whereas the Christian is driven by their passion for God and a longing to see His true justice done.

Jesus encountered this same spirit in His enemies whom He scolded for "teaching as doctrines the precepts of men" (Matthew 15:9) and for their selfish longings that detoured them away from carrying out God's real moral Law (e.g. Mark 7:10-13).

A Vindictive Spirit

The last distinction between the moral outrages expressed by non-Christians and Christians is that the first almost always exhibits a vindictive spirit that seeks to destroy those who oppose it. Moreover, this vengeful attitude celebrates the destruction of its enemy and applauds when their businesses are closed, onerous fines are levied, and imprisonments occur.

By contrast, the Christian desires repentance and a restoration of their enemy that leads to a better life — the one that God intends for them. Sadly, not all Christians have acted in this manner but such is the pattern of Scripture, which is modeled by God who reached out to us in love and reconciled us to Himself even "while we were enemies" (Romans 5:10).

The New Testament showcases this contrast between the vindictive and conciliatory spirits well with Jesus' enemies brutalizing and murdering Him while He, on the cross, appealed to His Father for their forgiveness.


Peggy Noonan perfectly characterized today's culture when she wrote that "as we've gotten more open-minded we've gotten more closed-hearted" and her warning of "watch out what you celebrate" is spot on as well. [5] The "celebration" aspect is particularly poignant as society is now at a point of forcing Christians to directly participate in anti-Biblical behavior — the motivation for which is explained well by philosopher J. Budziszewski: "Those who rationalize their sins find it to be so much work that they require other people to support them in it." [6]

The outrage of the unbeliever and of the Christian seems similar at a superficial level, but the truth is they couldn't be more different. One operates from a morally damaged mind and heart whereas the other functions with a renewed mind/heart provided by God's grace. One is in the bonds of the enemy and has a passion fueled by the self while the other is a slave to God's righteousness and has zeal to see His will accomplished. Lastly, one seeks the destruction of its enemy while the other genuinely seeks reconciliation and God's good will for its opponent.

These distinctions will become increasingly apparent as our society pushes more towards commanding evil vs. merely permitting it. Just as a Christian's civil disobedience must manifest when a government moves from permitting abortion to commanding that abortions be performed after a family exceeds a certain "limit" so will a Christian also disobey the government when it forces his or her participation in unbiblical moral situations.

When that refusal occurs, the outrage of the "open-minded" unbeliever will arise with fury, ignore its schizophrenic ethnical reasonings, and demand swift and severe punishment for those trespassing against it. Behind it is the same spirit that pursued Christ.

Although it may celebrate its temporary victory as Christ's enemies did for three days, ultimately it is destined for the same crushing defeat. Maranatha!

1. Sproul, R.C.; What is Reformed Theology?: Understanding the Basics; Baker Books; 2005; pg. 124.

2. Wesley, John; The Sermons of John Wesley; Sermon 9: The Spirit of Bondage and of Adoption"; Wesley Center for Applied Theology; 1999.

3. The Apostle Paul makes it clear in Romans 2 that all have God's moral law ingrained within them.

4. Nielsen, Kai; "Why Should I Be Moral?" American Philosophical Quarterly 21 (1984): 90.

5. Noonan, Peggy; "You'd cry too if it happened to you"; Forbes Magazine; September 14, 1992.

6. Colson, Chuck; "Shuttind Down Free Speech"; July 25, 2007.

Image Credit: Jason Tester Guerilla Futures; "There is no 'moral compass' app."; Creative Commons

TagsControversial-Issues  |  Current-Issues  |  Political-Issues  |  Sin-Evil

comments powered by Disqus
Published 9-9-15