The Christian life is contrary to morality because it is not repetitive. No fixed duty has to be done no matter what course life may take. Morality always interdicts this type of being. It is an obstacle to it and implicitly condemns it, just as Jesus is inevitably condemned by moral people.

The Subversion of Christianity, Jacques Ellul

When typing the above quote, I wanted to put quotes around “moral” so that the last phrase read: “just as Jesus is inevitably condemned by ‘moral’ people.” But, I try to keep direct quotations undisturbed so as not to mislead anyone. I think that Ellul would have agreed with that editorial change, but he is currently incommunicado (he died in 1994).

So, what does it mean to say that “the Christian life is contrary to morality”? If you take “morality” to mean a number of set, fixed rules, then the true Christian is immoral. Even a light reading of the Gospels shows that Jesus regularly did things to violate the rules of the Pharisees (see, for example Matthew 23:38).

The message is that when you are filled with the Spirit of God (the Holy Spirit), then you will act appropriately without a set script of “dos” and “don’ts”. This is the real sense of the now-trite phrase “What Would Jesus Do?” and what has been for millennia known as the concept of The Imitation of Christ (see, the example the book by that name by Thomas à Kempis, ca. 1418).

This is the same notion as is written in the Tao Te Ching (replace “the great Tao” with “God” as you read it):

When the great Tao is forgotten,
Kindness and morality arise.
When wisdom and intelligence are born,
The great pretense begins.
When there is no peace within the family,
Filial piety and devotion arise.
When the country is confused and in chaos,
Loyal ministers appear.

Tao Te Ching, Chapter 18 (Feng & English)

In other words, the only time you need rules of conduct is when people are not in tune with the Spirit of God. This is evidenced by our current society: as people lose touch with God they replace it with an unending series of “dos” and “don’ts” that are quite literally impossible to keep up with. (See, for example Three Felonies a Day which lists many things you probably have done that are crimes.)

If we return to a connection with God, we can do away with the human-made list of rules of conduct. However, this is not carte blanche for doing anything you feel like and then claiming “God wanted me to.” Like Jesus, you have to be willing to face the human-made consequences. Being right, unfortunately, is not a legal defense — just ask the people who were thrown in jail for eating SpaghettiOs or for warning friends about a software bug.

As a society loses its soul, it increases its penalties.

 Jan van Boeckel, ReRun Productions [CC BY-SA 4.0 (]