What morals does a Christian have that an atheist lacks?

By Tom Quiner

calvin_ethicsA Quiner’s Diner reader, Joe, challenged this blog with three provocative questions:

1. There is a man who goes to my sister’s church who is quite upset over this Duck Dynasty ordeal. This is a man who according to Jesus is an adulterer since he has twice divorced (no annulments granted here). Why does no one seem to have a problem with his sins?
2. What morals do you as Christians have that I, an atheist, lack?
3. What laws specifically need to be passed to bring us within God’s Law?

Great questions.
I ran his questions by a cross section of friends whose opinions I respect. I’d like to share some feedback over several blog posts.
My friend, Monte, had a good take on his questions:

In relation to Duck Dynasty  I’m not sure what all the hub bub is about.  It’s a reality show  (which is a genre I never watch by the way),  then one should expect to hear and see the “reality “of these people’s lives.  If this “patriarch” said some things that other people disagree with, well tough.  Just stop watching the show.  Kind of like politics, if you don’t agree with the politician you take your vote elsewhere.

In regards to the adulterer, well, that is something he will have to answer to someday.   We all know someone who has transgressed.  Depending on the relation and transgression one forgives or distances oneself from the transgressor.  If one of my best friends divorced his wife or did something which I would find out of character, then it is very possible I might distance myself from the relationship, no longer feeling that this was the man I thought I knew, or that he had changed and become someone I no longer wanted to be close to.  But if it was a family member, then chances are my relations with him would continue.  It’s easier to forgive and forget  family transgressions than a friend’s.
In regards to morals that the atheist has that are different than mine?  Which morals is he talking about?  If he grew up here in Iowa his morals are probably close to mine.  I don’t believe in lying, cheating, murder, adultery, etc.
In regards to laws?  Laws are established by the society we live in. I think it is safe to say that laws and morals have been evolving from the time I was a youth, and will probably continue to evolve, as they have throughout history.  There are stories in the bible that may have been the norm centuries ago, that would have no relevance today!  So, I guess civil laws are influenced by our religion.  Yet  I have no interest in a state that allows the church to dictate the laws.  We see how well the Middle East functions under that system.
We have two legal systems  to answer to, civil and church.  Earth based and spiritually based.  For example, the example of the man who has been twice divorced: he is  still considered a viable  member of our society based on civil law, yet someday he will have to answer for his broken promises to a “different” authority than civil law!  The fact that society chooses to forgive him and he remains a viable and productive citizen doesn’t mean he will not have to answer to “church” law some day after he has died.
Do I believe that laws should be passed to bring us into the realm of “God’s Law”?  I guess that depends on the law, as society’s interpretations and need for laws have been evolving over the centuries.  In medieval times people were burned at the stake for not believing in the laws of the church or having different interpretations of the bible.  Especially in regards to science.  Who will suffer eternally?  The ones burned or the ones who ordered the punishment?   So, probably no easy answer to his question.

Thanks to Monte for his response.
I will revisit Joe’s questions at some length in the days to come.