Dear Dr. Ray,
My brother no longer pays much attention to the Catholic faith in which we were both raised. He declares, “I’m a good person. That’s how God will judge me.” In fact, he is a pretty decent guy.
At one level, Christians would agree with such self-assessments. Every person indeed has worth, inherent and infinite, because every person is made in God’s image. True self-esteem, however, comes from divine declaration, not human.
Does civil society define what good is? I don’t cheat, steal, or lie (not that often anyway). I obey most laws, pay my taxes, and am a faithful souse and a good father. I even go to church once in a while. Overall, I’m a good citizen. My morals are in line with what society and the law say is acceptable.
Perhaps, but society and the law reflect the reigning and ever-shifting standards of the culture, which may or may not reflect God’s never-shifting standards. Abortion is legal and approved by half the population, much more in some cases. Does that make it a moral good? Premarital sex, out-of-wedlock pregnancies, even adultery have pretty much become modern acceptances. Judging by the numbers, are they now morally OK? Are they no longer sins that can taint one’s goodness?
Ask your brother a few questions next time he asserts that God will approve of his life conduct on Judgment Day. Who decides what is good? Do you believe that everything society declares as good really is? Where would you and God disagree about what is good? Does God judge us on what we call good or on how much we love him and others?
When Faith Causes Family Friction: Dr. Ray Tackles the Tough Questions Pages 139-141
Copyright © 2015, Dr. Ray Guarendi