A common claim made by atheists is that Christians can commit any kind of offense and simply ask for forgiveness without taking responsibility for their actions. Atheists tend to posit that religion is nothing more than a license to do wrong and relieve yourself from any responsibility for your actions. But this claim, which seeks to lift atheists up as being more morally responsible than their Christian counterparts, is really an incoherent claim packed with major problems. Let’s look at a few of them.
Atheists don’t believe in objective moral accountability.
They believe in subjective moral accountability. This is the belief that men and women determine what is a moral good or moral bad and set laws for society accordingly. The problem with this is society is made up of individuals with their own opinions on what is right or wrong. Opinions are subjective. Some people think murder is ok therefore they murder. However, some think it is wrong. In order to enact civil laws for society, a consensus is taken to determine how many people hold a certain belief. In the end majority rules. But the majority also thought slavery was right at one point too. Majority rule doesn’t determine what is truly right or wrong. If the greater majority of society agrees children of the age of 8 should all be murdered, does it make it right? A society using majority rule can only collect subjective opinions. So what does this mean? It means atheists only hold themselves accountable to society. Or better put…themselves. The same people who have varying opinions. The same people who deem one act morally bad today and then deem it good tomorrow. This isn’t really moral accountability.
Atheist lack a basis for a moral code to judge.
Atheist reject God and therefore have no basis for an objective moral code. Sure, an atheist can do good or bad things, but since their actions are purely subjective they lack an actual objective foundation to claim what is truly right or wrong. Atheists have no moral foundation or objective standard to judge how Christians should live out their moral code. It’s just their opinion. So it shouldn’t matter to them what moral code anyone decides to use.
The outcomes are the same without God.
If a Christian somehow absolves themselves from moral accountability by clinging to religion, how does that create a different outcome for them? The Christian’s moral accountability is handled by society just like the atheist. If God isn’t real, it doesn’t matter what a Christian or any person of faith believes as they’re still held morally accountable to society. It’s not as if Christians are somehow able to get away with committing crimes in society because they believe in God. Christians are still held to the same civil laws as everyone else. And if God doesn’t exist, then the claim holds zero weight considering Christians are held accountable to the same laws as everyone else.
Christianity submits to an objective moral being.
Christians believe in God and have an objective moral foundation for their moral beliefs. Mistakenly atheists believe Christians use the Bible to tell them what is right or wrong. This is a false claim as well. The position of the Christian is one that acknowledges God has written His moral code on the hearts and conscience of everyone.
“15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them” – Romans 2:15
Christianity understands God is the ultimate standard and authority of morality and His Word, the Bible, reinforces what we know about the morality written on our hearts. God’s people existed before the Bible was written. They knew what was right or wrong before it was written. Simply see the story of Cain & Abel or Noah for examples. People, however, like to do what they feel. The Bible delivers to everyone God’s final, authoritative and objective word on what is right or wrong. This way no one is without excuse. No one can claim they did not know. Christians believe God is real and this objective being, which is the standard, holds everyone accountable. The difference, which is significant, is Christians are forgiven by God for their offenses. This is because Jesus Christ took the punishment for all sin. Those who put their faith in Him and repent of their sins are forgiven. Everyone else will have to face God on Judgement Day, empty-handed and found wanting with no way to pay the penalties for their sins. Unfortunately, some people mistakenly believe God simply weighs the scales of life. But God is a judge and has a court of law, just like we do. And judges on earth don’t overlook crimes simply because someone has given to charity or acted kind towards someone. All criminals still have to pay for their crimes and God’s court of law is the ultimate, perfect court of law. It is the final court of law. No one gets away with anything. He catches what an earthly court of law doesn’t.
Forgiveness does not equal license to sin.
Being forgiven by God isn’t a license to sin against God. The entire book of 1 John makes it clear that anyone who keeps on willfully sinning or rejects the Son of God, Christ Jesus, is not a child of God. Simply put, they’re not Christian. So no, Christians don’t get to willfully sin and toss up a half-hearted prayer for forgiveness. In fact despite being forgiven Christians still enter into judgment before God to give an account for how they lived their lives as children of God. This judgment does not determine if a Christian will be saved or not. It has nothing to do with salvation. Christians who have been forgiven still give an account for their lives before God.
“Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; 11 for it is written,
“As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me,
and every tongue shall confess to God.”
12 So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.” – (Romans 14:10-12)
The reality is, it is the Christian who holds themselves to a higher standard for moral accountability. First within the laws of society, but also God’s court of law. God’s court of law supersedes that of men. This means murderers, thieves, liars, adulterers, homosexual, pedophiles, you name it, all sinners will stand before God’s throne of judgment even if they get away with their sins here on earth.
So in conclusion what we see is that it is the atheist who seeks to relieve themselves of any true moral accountability by holding themselves accountable to no one else, except to other people, essentially themselves. When it suits those who reject God, as mankind has always done, they will change their opinions concerning what is right or wrong for their own benefit. Which leaves the atheist holding the Get Out of Jail Free Card.