Writings on Christianity

Is It Ever Immoral to NOT Believe Something?

Is It Ever Immoral to NOT Believe Something?

Yes. Sometimes it is immoral to refuse to believe something. Beliefs, and our acceptance or refusal of particular beliefs, can be immoral.

How so? Here’s a couple ways: when we have no legitimate reason to doubt a person’s testimony or character, yet we refuse to believe what is said—maybe due to a desire for selfish gain or unbridled suspicion (which is rooted in pride and arrogance)—this is immoral; when we lack the proper authority to question one giving a statement (one who has the proper authority) and then assert our own statement in its place against and in contradiction to a rightful and true authority.

Here’s some examples of these:

Example 1: a parent instructs a child to not do something which would  hurt them (not to touch a hot stove; to look both ways before crossing the street; etc), but the child refuses to believe or obey and goes forward and does what is harmful (assuming the decision here is not out of youthful ignorance but out willful stubborn disobedience to authority).

Example 2:  a lover is suspicious of her partner’s voice when he tells her ‘I love you,’—not actually rejecting the testimony due to evidence of betrayal or infidelity, but refusing to believe such a statement because of a prideful arrogance which assumes that ‘of course the lover is unfaithful’ or ‘of course the lover could not mean it, because I am too unlovely.’ Here we see that the Bible is true when it says: “Love believes all things” (1 Cor 13:7b). This doesn’t mean that reason is abandoned, but it does mean that refusal to believe another due to selfishness or arrogance is not loving; such a refusal to believe is sin against God who made us, loves us and calls us to love one another.

Example 3: attempting to create your own traffic rules on a public street, believing your rules are right and even trying to get others to believe your interpretation—at their and everyone else’ peril! Here we have a rejection of a belief due to a refusal to submit to the rightful authority of another.  It is foolish and immoral to refuse to believe what is given to us by one who has the right authority over us.

This question and thought experiment along with various examples shows that there are situations in life where we recognize that it can be IMMORAL to refuse to believe something.

Ultimately, the God who made us and sustains us and cares for us, has the authority to tell us how to live and what to believe. He has supreme and legitimate authority, and a refusal to hear His voice, accept His testimony, and believe what He tells us is immoral. Just as there are examples from the everyday life where we see a refusal to believe something can be immoral, so much more when we reject the Living God who made us.

By Tom Schmidt

Christian, husband of Rach, Church Planter,musician,

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