Righteousness Is Revealed in Conduct, Not Rhetoric 729.4

It’s hard to look at the world and some of the people who seem to get ahead without occasionally asking ourselves why we should be ethical. However normal it is to think like this, the question should be off limits for people who profess strong religious beliefs. After all, what religion does not mandate morality?

To authentically religious people, the motivation toward virtue is grounded in the acceptance of a nonnegotiable duty to be a good person in the eyes of God, not in anticipation of personal benefits. Dishonest, irresponsible, or unfair conduct is simply wrong.

Although there are skeptics who are suspicious of the rhetoric of religious advocates and proselytizers, there is a positive correlation between religious conviction and virtue. I think the vast majority of deeply religious people draw guidance and strength from their beliefs and live better if not perfect lives.

Still, religious claims and even sincere convictions are no guarantee of genuine righteousness.

Besides disturbed individuals such as those who believe God commands them to perform horrible acts, discredited televangelist preachers, and priests who molest parishioners, we must face the fact that Bernie Ebbers of WorldCom and John Rigas of Adelphia, the masterminds of some of the world’s greatest swindles, were highly vocal and visible about their Christian beliefs.

Whether such wrongdoers are mentally ill, hypocrites, frauds, or sincere believers with personal weaknesses, their stories remind us that we can’t take for granted the link between religious claims and worthy conduct. It’s not that religion fails people; it’s that people fail their religion.

In the end, regardless of its source, righteousness is revealed in ethical and upright conduct, not rhetoric.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.

Comments 6

  1. Hell is full of religious people……Christians are not perfect nor religious…just forgiven. We are forgiven as imperfect creatures by a spotless sacrifice: JESUS CHRIST.
    John 3:16-17 For GOD so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believed in HIM (Obeyed JESUS)should have everlasting life.
    For JESUS came not into the world to condemn the world but that the world through HIM (JESUS ) might be saved (delivered from evil).
    That isn’t religion-that is faith and obedience to my LORD and SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST….All I had to do was bow down and beg HIS forgiveness of my sins and do my best to reject and condemn evil while doing my best through JESUS CHRIST to do what is right. I fail to do right often but JESUS always stands ready to forgive. Thank YOU JESUS!! And thank you GOD for loving us and sending YOUR HOLY SPIRIT upon us…..We don’t deserve it but YOU love us anyway.

  2. Mr. Josephson,
    I have enjoyed your commentaries and agree with most. That being said, I’m confused with this commentary when compared to the one you wrote regarding same sex marriage. To quote you here, “It’s not religion that fails people;it’s people that fail their religion.” My Christian beliefs tell me that homosexuality, and by inference, same sex marriage, are an abomination to God. Am I not be failing my religion if I support homosexuality? I believe that God loves all people, even those who commit sin. But, I also believe that the Bible is the inerrant word of God and should not be manipulated to accommodate the fickleness of society.

  3. Joshua Cunningham claims that his religion prevents him from extending marriage rights to homosexuals and dismisses the beliefs of others as the “fickleness of society”. Would his be the same religion that made marriage illegal between blacks and whites, Asians and whites, and American Indians and whites? Or the one that condoned the Inquisition and Salem Witch Trials? Or the one that promoted the Crusades, the 30 Years War and the Northern Ireland conflict? Or the one that supports the death penalty and torture of suspected terrorists? Or maybe the one that backed censorship of books containing any references of incest, adultery or murder, except, of course, for the Bible

  4. In response to Molly Katelyn, my Christian beliefs are based on the Bible. I am unaware of any passage that prohibits interracial marriages, or any verse that condones any of the other things you suggest, so I’m not sure what your point is. The fact that certain segments of society have, over the course of history, manipulated the Bible to justify their actions has nothing to do with the true word of God. My question, which was specifically addressed to Mr. Josephson, asked for HIS OPINION about the apparent conflict in his commentaries. My personal opinion is that some very bad people, who do very bad things, do deserve the death penalty. And, I am in favor of torturing suspected terrorists if it saves one innocent life- even yours.

  5. There are more Christians in jail and in the court system than atheists. As an atheist I feel that I am a very ethical and tolerant person.

  6. Joshua: My point is that you are no different than those “certain segments of society…that have manipulated the Bible to justify their actions”. They also claimed that theirs was the “true word of God”. The fact that YOU are unaware of any passages in the Bible that forbid or support something, does not mean they are not there or that someone like yourself can

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