Why Christians Should Let Non-Christians Off the Moral Hook

Why Christians should let non-Christians off the moral hook

I feel like I need to get something off my chest.

It bothers me  that Christians continually express shock, disapproval and judgment at the way non-Christians live.

You’ve seen it, and maybe even done it:

Doesn’t anyone believe in marriage anymore?

I can’t get over how many people today smoke weed.

Can you believe they just sleep in instead of coming to church?

Did you hear they moved in together? That’s so bad!

What’s wrong with our government? Why don’t they uphold biblical values?

Whenever I hear that, I I feel like saying “Do you seriously expect non-Christians to behave like Christians?”

Think it through.

Most people in the West no longer consider themselves Christian.

Or even if they use the term “Christian” to describe themselves, few believe in the authority of scripture or profess a personal faith in Jesus Christ.

So why would we expect them to behave like Christians? Why would we expect people who don’t profess to be Christians to:

Wait until marriage to have sex?

Clean up their language?

Be celibate when they’re attracted to people of the same sex?

Pass laws like the entire nation was Christian?

Seriously? Why?

They’re not pretending to be Christians. Why would they adopt Christian values or morals?

Please don’t get me wrong.

I’m a pastor. I completely believe that the Jesus is not only the Way, but that God’s way is the best way.

When you follow biblical teachings about how to live life, your life simply goes better. It just does. I 100% agree.

I do everything I personally can to align my life with the teachings of scripture, and I’m passionate about helping every follower of Christ do the same.

But what’s the logic behind judging people who don’t follow Jesus for behaving like people who don’t follow Jesus?

Why would you hold the world to the same standard you hold the church?

Before you judge a non-Christian for behaving like a non-Christian, think about this:

1. They act more consistently with their value system than you do. It’s difficult for a non-Christian to be a hypocrite, because they tend to live out what they believe. Chances are they are better at living out their values than you or I are. Jesus never blamed pagans for acting like pagans. But he did speak out against religious people for acting hypocritically.

2. Your disapproval is destroying the relationship (if you have even have a relationship in the first place). Some of the most judgmental Christians have zero non-Christians friends. Is that a surprise, really? I mean, on a human level,  how many people have you made time for this week that you know disapprove of who you are and the way you live? Exactly.

3. Judgment is a terrible evangelism strategy. People don’t line up to be judged. If you want to keep being ineffective at reaching unchurched people, keep judging them.

4. Judging outsiders is unChristian. Paul told us to stop judging people outside the church. Jesus said God will judge us by the same standard with which we judge others. Paul also reminds us to drop the uppity-attitude; that none of us were saved by the good we did but by grace.

So what can you do?

1.  Stop judging non-Christians. Start loving them. Very few people have been judged into life-change. Many have been loved into it.

2.  Empathize with non-Christians. Ask yourself, “If I wasn’t a Christian, what would I be doing?” Chances are you might be doing exactly what the non Christians in your neighbourhood are doing.  Understanding that and empathizing with that completely changes how you see people. And they can tell how you see them.

3. Hang out with non-Christians. Jesus did. And caught plenty of disapproval for it. I have a friend who continually drops f-bombs in my presence. As much as it bothers me, I never correct him (he’s not a kid, he’s my peer). But I do pray for him every day and we talk about my faith. I pray I see the day when he’s baptized.

4. Pray for unchurched people. It is impossible to remain enemies with someone you genuinely pray for daily.

5. Live out your faith authentically. Your actions carry weight. Humility is far more attractive than pride. When a non-Christian sees integrity, it’s compelling.

I just have a feeling if we in the church loved the world the way Jesus did, the world might come running to Christ.

And, then. the change we long to see might actually begin to happen.

  • spw

    Allen, you don’t have to be concerned about me I am not all crazy, at least I don’t think I am. Yes I have a past like most people, but my past did not kill me, Praise the Lord!!.I really really don’t hate you Allen, I don’t even dislike you. I love all people without prejudices. There are many people of all creeds, races, nations, lifestyles and so on in this country, and that makes this country better than most. The problem is do we still love and befriend all people for who they are? I say yes! In my own family there are all kinds of us,we are very colorful and that’s the way I like it. Just because someone doesn’t believe like I do doesn’t mean I want to avoid them, on the contrary I appreciate people for where they are in life. There are none that is sinless and perfect, except the One I choose to worship. Because I believe in Jesus Christ, the only One that gives a bridge to God my Father.
    There are many in my family that do not trust Jesus to forgive their sins and to give them eternal life and believe the way I do, but we still have a great
    respect and love for each other. I live in the southeast of the country and us southerners try to be as hospitable as we can, given the chance. I know there are some in my neck of the woods that could use training on love thy neighbor, but for the most part in my area we do. When you say I was bickering, I was defending my beliefs as you were defending your unbelief, so I guess you could call us even. I believe in forgiveness and love, but at times I can get ruffled, I am still human. I just try to express myself for who I am, for I have no personal enemies and if I do, I’ll try to make it right. I just don’t look at people with strife or anger, but you wanted to discount my Father in Heaven and I guess with some post I might have gotten carried away, but I meant no harm to you. I was just defending my faith in Jesus as my Savior and Lord. I know you say you might could help me because you think I’m loosing my mind. That just about did CRACK ME UP!! Allen you are too funny!. You know come to think of it, many followers of Christ that are mentioned in the bible were accused of being crazy. They were crazy about there Lord and Savior was the problem. If I am accused of being crazy because of my beliefs, I’ll accept that. Yes I do have a past, but we all have a past, some worse than others, but whose counting. We just need to be there for each other no matter the circumstances. I’m not as stiff neck as you think Allen, I’m just me and that’s it. I wish you well and
    God speed!!

  • spw

    Allen, I believe everything in the bible is truth. I am not called to judge people, I’m called love them. God is God of all creation and He is the one that judges man kind based on their own life. I am not God, so I cannot judge you. I can only share the gospel of Christ and point people to Him for remission of sins. If they don’t accept Jesus and the truth of the gospel, that is their business. This doesn’t mean That I love less based on peoples thoughts , actions or lack there of. When you keep trying to put me on the same level as God to judge people, you nor I either one has the power to bring judgment on people. It’s God and His word that brings judgment. If one thinks what they do is not wrong but Gods word says it is, they are deceived by there own sinful mind and the Truth of Christ is not in them. God removes the veil of wickedness if one is willing to repent and seek Him for salvation and forgiveness. We the people of Christ are to receive those that Gods forgives and gives eternal life to help them mature in the word of God until they can stand on their own. So again, you cannot put me in the same box as God when it comes to judgment because I not only don’t have the same power to save a man, I don’t have the need to judge.
    The only thing I can do is share the truth of Gods word and pray, God does the rest.

  • David

    I see your point in terms of following the Bible to the period, but you’re asking quite a loaded question. Rather than simply say, yes follow every word, we must be reminded that following the law simply to fulfill will end in failure, but loving our neighbors as ourselves and loving God with all our heart, mind, and soul knowing we’ve been lifted from the burden of following the law and can be honestly transformed into being more like Jesus without having to “gain” something through our own merits. There are plenty greater minds that could clarify that and put it better than I. Secondly, when we pick and choose and get technical, the underlying reason every time is that we see it more of a hassle to avoid sin than to play it off as a philosophical or subjective technicality. It’s selfish and lazy for us to say, “well, technically I just don’t like him, but I don’t hate him,” or to say, “my parents are jerks and really don’t deserve my respect.” But in all situations where we say, “well it’s just a string of letters, I’m the one that gives it meaning,” we deny that we also have intentions behind words and actions, such as hate and deceit and even lust. Rather than have a perfect mouth and do everything perfectly, know we’re broken and Jesus is not, and he still came down to us as man and pulled us from our mess rather than live life based on nit-pick theology.

  • cameron

    Or, you know, people might actually begin to see Christianity as morally wrong. God actually approves rape and slavery in the Bible.

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  • philipdevine

    Carey, awesome post! One question re: your friend and the f-bombs…I’ve got plenty of friends that do the same, and I have never asked then not to do that (unless they’re around my kids). Is it appropriate to ask them not to, similar to asking a smoker to put out his cigarette while you wait in line (…which I’ve only done when my kids are around as well, now that I think about it). Thanks for sharing!

  • Hannah

    “When you follow biblical teachings about how to live life, your life simply goes better. It just does. I 100% agree.”

    I just want to mention, that we are not promised good lives if we live like Jesus. In fact, we are told to expect pain and suffering. Living the Christian life does not mean our lives will go better; it means that we have Jesus behind us no matter what, to give us peace and to carry us through the bad times. I’m sorry if I seem like I’m trying to rebuke you, but I fear that others may take that sentence the wrong way(unless you meant it that way, in which case you really are theologically incorrect).

    Other than that, I completely agree. This is the philosophy I have held on Gay Marriage- the US Constitution does not disallow it, the Bible does, and furthermore, the US constitution emphasizes separation of church and state. Why then do we fight it the way we do? We should instead remind Christians what the Bible says and the way Jesus would have treated those who are homosexual. Because Jesus did NOT come to start a political revolution; he even emphasized submitting to government wherever it would not go directly against God. Jesus came to save us because He loved us; because not a single person on this planet deserves heaven, not a single one; our only way is to be cleansed by His grace. Our modern day pharisees think we need a political revolution. No. What we need is to spread the love of Jesus.

    On a side note, there will always, always, always be atheists and other non-Christians who disagree, because they simply don’t understand. They don’t get it. I don’t follow Jesus because I get something in return; I follow Jesus because I love Him and He loves me, because I know that He will do what is best for the world, that He is in control, no matter what happens to me. It is a huge plus that I will get to see Him one day. Non-Christians do not understand this; they think we follow God out of fear that He will smite us. But “fearing God” is not meant to be cowering in apprehension because you are scared; it is meant to be respecting and putting your trust in Him, and a lot of non-Christians miss that(and a lot of Christians!).

    Even though there are those who will constantly argue with us and go against us no matter how much we share Jesus’s love and turn from hatred, we cannot falter, we must continue to love. A Christian who bullies others for not being Christians is as much a fool as an Atheist who bullies others for believing in God. I cannot stand either one. But there will still be atheists who will call me silly, would fight with me if I called them out for preaching tolerance where they have none(which I would do only if I were being bullied over it), who will hate me when I love them, who will never understand. I must think, what would Jesus do? Not shout angrily. No, Jesus would not lash out at them. In fact, say someone did lash out- I think Jesus is more likely to rebuke that person! Nor would Jesus condemn them forever. I doubt He would say anything other than “forgive them for their sins, Lord.”

    And that is what we should do- we should forgive them for hurting us(because it does indeed hurt to have your God whom you love mocked) and say “Lord, forgive them, because they are sinners like me”.

    Christians are no better than atheists. The only difference is that Christians love the Lord, and are called to walk in His ways- it doesn’t mean that they do it, and it doesn’t mean they are not sinners. But I am so tired of the two way bullying.

  • Tim K

    great post!

  • Derhund

    came across this article semi-randomly, but more out of a dating experience with a non-christian. I believe it is wise and solid advice. thank you.

  • nikki

    If only the Christians that act so sour towards us could see this page. I completely agree with this. I am an atheist and I avoid Christians like the plague! I often get dirty looks from them (the ones that know me), I have been told how evil and immoral I am, and one “good christian” actually laughed at me and said ” haha! You are going to burn!” As if she got off on the idea. ..sicko.

    The fact that they believe in a god doesn’t bother me an ounce. To each their own. But the insults and false statements are what makes me look at them with disgust. Funny. Some religious people look down their nose at you and are completely two faced. Some point their finger and scream “witch!” When in reality they are the witch that hides behind a mask That Tries To pass itself off as ” love.”
    As for the statements. Some say really off the wall things like.. ” well Hitler was an atheist!” Um… no. My response to stupid babling like this is pure amazement and nothing more. This is the same as stating that trees are all hot pink..and saying that this “fact” is an absolute.

    I’m not trying to be rude. Just state what I’ve experienced. Quite frankly, Christians make themselves look like mean, bullying, hypocrites. That’s not the atheists fault.

  • Ed Dingess

    Don’t be deceived into thinking that world and worldly friends are going revise their view of Christianity for a second. I wonder why they all abandoned and crucified Jesus. Jesus said do not be shocked when the world hates you. We must understand that it hated Him first. Just for everyone’s information, the WORLD did not come running to the Christ of the first century! Please remember what they did to Him! They murdered Him in the most torturous manner possible at that time. Those who were following Jesus were doing so for all the wrong reasons according to Jesus Himself. No one hates God as only love. But God is not only love. God is the great judge as well. Jesus showed up preaching repentance as did John the baptist, as did Peter, as did Paul. One by one, it got every single one of them killed. Don’t be fooled by modern psychological nonsense that is not the gospel.

  • http://www.careynieuwhof.com/ Carey Nieuwhof

    I agree that not every turns to Christ, but you can’t explain the rapid growth of the early church as a rejection of Christ. And please remember, that God’s wrath is linked to his inexorable love.

  • Ed Dingess

    I explain the rapid growth of the early Church as evidence of God’s sovereign move in the hearts of men by the preaching of the gospel of Christ. And the last time I checked, the first sermon at Pentecost was on repentance. Love is mentioned once in Acts while repentance comes up 11 times. That is quite a ratio. Of course salvation is the result of God’s love and grace. No one I know of claims otherwise. But it is utterly absurd to claim that if we stop preaching the gospel and soften things up with unbelievers, that somehow more of them will flock to Christ. That movement has been going on for some time now and it has resulted in one of the weakest forms of Christianity in the history of Christianity. In addition, the explosive growth of the Church is Acts came as a result of PREACHING the Word. Acts 2 is a perfect example. The Church had no time to follow your formula. God saves men through foolishness of preaching, not through psychological strategies designed to make Christianity more attractive to a mind that is by nature, hostile to God. The fact is Carey, your argument is false. Christ never had the world flocking to Him. They hated Him and then they killed Him.

  • http://www.careynieuwhof.com/ Carey Nieuwhof

    I honestly don’t know what to say Ed. It just seems you’ve got everything figured out. Best wishes.

  • CR

    Wow, I am helping my son do some research for a scholarship essay with the topic who does the bible say Jesus is as opposed to who society says He is and as usual, there is an angry atheist. I don’t understand why they always need to argue and fuss and be so rude. My goodness. And of course he managed to bait some of you. He bashes the Christians here yet seems to act the same way he claims Christians have acted towards him. And I am a partial party. I do not go to church but I also am not atheist or agnostic etc. This is an outsiders view looking in here. Allen, it doesn’t seem like your atheist views are giving you a very happy life. You are very negative. That is not healthy

  • Krista

    I’m happy to see articles like this. Christianity has a really bad name because the loudest Christian voices are often the meanest. There are many beautiful Christians who manage to bring divinity and love to their interpretations of the bible, and are truly amazing people. Unfortunately, they are quiet and overshadowed by the people who use the bible like a weapon, and try to destroy or hurt others. I hope that people continue towards peace, love and community for all. Some of you may try to claim that the militant Christians aren’t truly Christian, but can you really take a person’s religion away from them for doing things differently, especially if they are backed by a like minded congregation?

  • grammy

    Whoa Allen, who said they were perfect or better? The Bible says we are sinners and have fallen short of His glory. Christians are not perfect, not always pretty, often wrong. And the loudest Christian (meaning “see me hear me”) often casts a huge shadow over the rest of us who are trying to do right, love our neighbors, care for the weary, make friends, etc.We are suppose to be humble and interact with others. I am sorry the few who mistreated you under the name “Christian” made the greatest impression on you. I pray you will meet someone who is a true Christian and will explain the Bible to you. All you need to do is open your heart & mind!

  • Allen

    Its funny how you start out by saying that Christians aren’t perfect and make mistakes and are wrong and claim everyone is the same then by the end say those “other Christians” who are loud are not “real” Christians. You just contradicted yourself and it’s funny how that superior complex works even inside Christian groups. The fact is i could careless how loud those “unreal” Christians speak you both believe the same things. Christians believes that gay people should burn for being gay and anyone who isn’t a christian and hasn’t accepted your God should burn as well. Dressing that up with the word “love” doesn’t make a difference.There is no such thing as a true Christian. You guys are all the same. You use that line to try to differentiate yourself from those people like the WBC that scream in peoples faces about messages from the bible. YOu think that by using the same verses they use that come from the Bible in softer tone that makes you a “true” Christian. I could careless either way. the message from the Bible is still the same. I actually respect the “untrue Christians” more because at least i know they are terrible people those “true” Christians are snakes in the grass. No thank you i dont want either.

  • http://www.careynieuwhof.com/ Carey Nieuwhof

    “The loudest Christians are often the meanest.” Bam. So true. Thanks Krista. Let’s change that. :)

  • tony

    The scripture says ” there is now no condemnation.” It is not our job to judge. It is God’s. We should be more loving indiscriminately and unconditionally as christians.

  • MsPaulaMc

    This is much of the revelation I have received in the last few months. It is powerful .. well written article and I emphatically say YES and AMEN.