why we think it’s ok to cheat and steal

Written by Dan King

Christ-follower. husband. father. author of the unlikely missionary: from pew-warmer to poverty-fighter. co-author of activist faith: from him and for him. school of ministry and missions instructor. president of fistbump media, llc.

March 23, 2009

shoplifterIn my opinion, one of the most interesting discussions related to religious studies is that of morality. I won’t deny the fact that many power-hungry people throughout history have used Christianity and the name of Jesus in the wrong way for selfish gain. However, the message of the Christian Bible is one of love and restoration.

Particularly in the New Testament world where the civil and ritual laws are not specifically renewed from the Old Testament, the moral laws do still stand providing guidance to us for what a Christian life should look like.

In fact, every ‘good’ Christian knows that they shouldn’t do things like lie, cheat, and steal. But many of us (probably all of us) still do it anyway. Why do people, knowing that it is wrong, still do these things? Behavioral economist Dan Ariely actually studied this, and shares his findings here…

[youtube nUdsTizSxSI Video :: Dan Ariely: Why we think it’s OK to cheat and steal (sometimes)]

Ariely’s findings here are interesting, but it raises even more questions in my mind. But I first think it is appropriate to examine myself in light of this research. I must ask these questions of myself before I ever point my finger at others accusing them of this type of behavior…

I know that my faith leads me to be honest, but do I give in to the ‘norm’ of my environment, and feel comfortable with my own dishonesty as long as I know others are not being truthful as well? What should the Christian response be to this sort of behavior? Should we justify ourselves based on other people’s behavior, or let the Word of God continue to be our standard?

I certainly feel like as Christians we should be aware of these tendencies that we all have. We should also regularly evaluate ourselves and make sure that we are using the right benchmarks for morality. Thoughts?

7 Comments

  1. Wickle

    That's very interesting. I think that there is something to that, as I look at the rationalizations I've used for things that I've done wrong. Generally, if it's somewhat abstracted (like the tokens instead of cash, or the Cokes in the fridge) it's easier; and duration counts, too. If it's something that's over and done easily, it's easier than an ongoing, lingering thing.

    Very interesting topic.

    Reply
  2. Wickle

    That's very interesting. I think that there is something to that, as I look at the rationalizations I've used for things that I've done wrong. Generally, if it's somewhat abstracted (like the tokens instead of cash, or the Cokes in the fridge) it's easier; and duration counts, too. If it's something that's over and done easily, it's easier than an ongoing, lingering thing.Very interesting topic.

    Reply
  3. Wickle

    That's very interesting. I think that there is something to that, as I look at the rationalizations I've used for things that I've done wrong. Generally, if it's somewhat abstracted (like the tokens instead of cash, or the Cokes in the fridge) it's easier; and duration counts, too. If it's something that's over and done easily, it's easier than an ongoing, lingering thing.

    Very interesting topic.

    Reply
  4. BibleDude

    Thanks for stopping by again Wickle, and thanks for sharing your thoughts. It is an interesting topic, and one that makes me think about all kinds of things around the ideas of 'overcoming the world' among other Christian teachings.

    But for me it keeps getting back to taking responsibility for our own actions. Regardless of what others are doing, we still know what our moral baseline is (or should be), and we have a responsibility to measure ourselves to that instead of what it seems that we can 'get away with'.

    This is a great conversation that Christians need to be a part of around moral standards and truth!

    Reply
  5. BibleDude

    Thanks for stopping by again Wickle, and thanks for sharing your thoughts. It is an interesting topic, and one that makes me think about all kinds of things around the ideas of 'overcoming the world' among other Christian teachings.

    But for me it keeps getting back to taking responsibility for our own actions. Regardless of what others are doing, we still know what our moral baseline is (or should be), and we have a responsibility to measure ourselves to that instead of what it seems that we can 'get away with'.

    This is a great conversation that Christians need to be a part of around moral standards and truth!

    Reply
  6. BibleDude

    Thanks for stopping by again Wickle, and thanks for sharing your thoughts. It is an interesting topic, and one that makes me think about all kinds of things around the ideas of 'overcoming the world' among other Christian teachings. But for me it keeps getting back to taking responsibility for our own actions. Regardless of what others are doing, we still know what our moral baseline is (or should be), and we have a responsibility to measure ourselves to that instead of what it seems that we can 'get away with'.This is a great conversation that Christians need to be a part of around moral standards and truth!

    Reply
  7. BibleDude

    Thanks for stopping by again Wickle, and thanks for sharing your thoughts. It is an interesting topic, and one that makes me think about all kinds of things around the ideas of 'overcoming the world' among other Christian teachings.

    But for me it keeps getting back to taking responsibility for our own actions. Regardless of what others are doing, we still know what our moral baseline is (or should be), and we have a responsibility to measure ourselves to that instead of what it seems that we can 'get away with'.

    This is a great conversation that Christians need to be a part of around moral standards and truth!

    Reply

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why we think it’s ok to cheat and steal

by Dan King time to read: 2 min
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