Moral Ambiguity and Why our Church Members are So Confused


I don’t know why I am so surprised that Christians are so morally clueless. Perhaps it is because no two ministers of the Gospel can agree on what is sinful and what is not. My last post was a case in point. Gambling: is it a sin? Or is it not? No agreement. One pastor says, “It is inherently covetous.” Another will say, “It’s adiaphora,” or “Well, as long as you are just doing it for entertainment.” The same could be said for many other issues, both moral and doctrinal, in the church. There are always two sides to everything, two opposing viewpoints that are both potentially right.

And we wonder why our people are so morally confused. We wonder and lament that Christians don’t seem to know what is sinful and what is not. Is it maybe because, hmmm, perhaps WE PASTORS DON’T EVEN KNOW ANYMORE????

Is it just because some are afraid to call anything a sin? Is it because we just want to give people an escape route that is of the Law and not of the Gospel? I don’t know. It is mind-boggling to me.



About Rev. Paul L. Beisel

Graduate of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, IN in 2001 (M Div.) and 2004 (S.T.M.); LC-MS Pastor and Adjunct Instructor for John Wood Community College; Husband of Amy and father of Susan, Elizabeth, Martin, and Theodore.
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5 Responses to Moral Ambiguity and Why our Church Members are So Confused

  1. Rev. Paul L. Beisel says:

    This was written to me privately by a friend of mine, and I think it is worthy of consideration:

    >>I agree with your overall premise: Too few are willing to take a stand on the Scriptures and Confessions.

    But….would you agree that some things that the church once thought were black and white are not black and white. For example, dancing. Is it sinful to dance? What about when the dance elicits lustful thoughts in the participants? Then, is it the dance that is sinful? Or the lust in the heart? Years ago our church said dancing was sinful. Now we say it is the sinful thoughts. Yet, Scripture says to flee immorality. So, is dancing sinful or not? Do you see my point? I think there may be some wiggle room on gambling. (I looked for an article I wrote years ago on the subject, but could not find it). When I teach on the subject, I stop short of calling gambling a sin (although I believe most – if not all – is sinful). Rather, I speak of stewardship and love of neighbor and ask the question, which shows more love for the neighbor? If we fail to love our neighbor as ourself, then we have sinned.

    Hmmmm, now a hard question….can we make the same argument for going to a pro football game? Or going to an expensive concert? I don’t think we want to go that far either – or we would be doing what the Pharisees did with all their extra laws. I think the whole issue of entertainment is wrapped up in the doctrines of stewardship and love of neighbor. I’m not sure there is an easy answer – it is all a matter of the heart and since we are sinners, we cannot help but sin – even if the act is not inherently sinful in itself.<<

    My friend's points here are well taken. Once you start calling things sins that are not explicitly so called in the Bible, it is a slippery slope to Pharisaism, looking at the letter of the Law, rather than the Spirit of the Law.

  2. Lawrence says:

    Easy answer for me. It is sin, in that we’re placing our hope of winning on fate, on chance. Placing our faith in a roll of the dice, or the turn of a friendly card, isn’t scriptural.

    This is not the same think as watching a sporting event, unless we’re betting on the event. The money we pay is a fee for services rendered. The services we receive in the case of a sporting event are in the form of entertainment. And while we might be rooting for one side or the other, we’re not gambling anything on the outcome of the event.

  3. Lawrence says:

    Oops, previous post on gabling I put in the wrong discussion thread.

  4. Lawrence says:

    Many denominations now-a-days teach that the Law of God no longer applies in context of the Gospel. Therefore, whatever is defined by Law as sin, no longer applies. I disagree with this statement, but I debate this issue enough to make a comment about it here.

    It comes down to understanding one critical phrase, which we all say every weekend, in some manner of recitation…. “If we say we have no sin, the truth is not in us.”

    To understand sin, we must understand Law. Problem is that we don’t want to view ourselves as sinful, because we then have to accept that we are all immoral in some manner.

    This is further compounded by popular culture teaching that we are all born innocent and become bad/sinful as a result of our environment as we grow and mature. Compounded yet further by all those who teach that babies before a certain age are not truly sinful in context of some defined age of accountability.

    Place all these things together, given some hot-button issue like infant baptism, and it is much easier to deny the Law of God than to accept the truth of it.

    But really, it is about us looking at ourselves and refusing to accept the truth of our own immoral sinfulness.

  5. Lady Luck's Best Man says:


    What about an office game of fantasy football? For ten bucks a head.
    What about a gatorade bet between father and son in game of H-O-R-S-E?

    What about penny poker in the garage on friday nights?

    No sin in my world.

    What about $1 in penny slots?

    Done them all…hoped to win…usually lost. Placed my faith in the freedom I have in Christ…not chance.

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