Tag Archives: moral influences

Good deeds for bad reasons

The Bible describes and promotes a lot more evil behavior than you would expect from a “good book”. Not all of it is like that, of course. But even when the Bible talks about good behavior, the reasons it gives for behaving that way are usually all wrong.

There’s a Bible verse that addresses the issue of doing things for the wrong reasons. Paul thinks that as long as you’re doing the right thing, it doesn’t really matter why you’re doing it. Well, I disagree. Reasons are important. Your reasons for doing things influence which things you choose to do. If you’re not doing things for the right reasons, you’re probably not going to consistently do the right things.

What would be a good reason for, say, showing hospitality? Why should you provide people with lodging and food? In the past, one good reason was that it took a long time to travel, and there weren’t a lot of commercial hotels around. So the only way travelers could get shelter at night was to rely on strangers to offer them a place to stay.

The Bible’s justification for promoting hospitality, on the other hand, doesn’t even have anything to do with helping people! Instead, the Bible says you should let people stay in your home because your guests might actually be angels. That’s a dumb reason, isn’t it? How is it in any way better to provide for angels, who don’t need your help, than to provide for humans, who do?

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Should we follow God’s example?

The Bible says we should follow God’s example. That makes sense, because God is perfect, and everything he does is right. God is love, and we should walk in the way of love. We should be holy as God is holy, and perfect as he is perfect. We should speak the way God would speak. We should think like Jesus and follow his ways.

Paul taught his followers to transform themselves and become like God, because God wants his people to become like him. Paul followed Jesus’s example, and we should follow Paul’s example, so that we end up following Jesus’s example too.

How can we follow God’s example, though? I mean, if we can’t see God, how can we know what kinds of things he does, so that we can do the same? We can find out what God does by reading stories about God in the Bible. That includes stories about Jesus, since according to the Bible, Jesus is God.

So, here are some things we should do in order to follow God’s example, according to the stories about God in the Bible:

…Wait a minute. Those are all things the Bible says we shouldn’t do!

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The Story of Abraham’s Sacrifice
Isaac and his Murderous Psycho Father

Ten generations after Noah, God promised a man named Abraham that he would have countless descendants through Isaac, the son of Abraham and his sister Sarah. But before Isaac could grow up and have children, the all-good God ordered Abraham to sacrifice Isaac as a burnt offering. So Abraham lied to his servants and his son about what he was planning to do, so they wouldn’t interfere. Then he tied up his son, put him on an altar, and picked up a knife

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Isaac and his Murderous Psycho Father
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The Story of Cain and Abel
The Picky Eater

Adam and Eve’s first two sons were Cain, who grew plants, and Abel, who raised animals. They offered some of their plants and animals to God, but God only liked Abel’s meat, and didn’t like Cain’s fruits. Cain got very angry, and the all-knowing God couldn’t figure out why.

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The Picky Eater
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Should people follow their hearts and eyes?

The author of Ecclesiastes (who claims to be Solomon, the wisest man of all time) advises young people to follow their hearts, and to follow whatever their eyes see. Everything else the Bible says about following your heart or your eyes is very much against it, though. Righteous Job, for instance, believes that people who let themselves be led by their eyes don’t deserve to eat.

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