About Christian values

The values of a culture are statements and rules that define what its members perceive as good, important and valuable. We use them consciously and subconsciously in our psychological, social and political life. They influence our daily choices and priorities.

Every law system describes the values of a given culture.

As an edge case there are cultures without written laws, for example historic cultures like the Celts, or ideal cultures like the Church or marketism.

law system

A system of laws, i.e. of written rules.

There is a list of contemporary national legal systems. A whole science, called comparative law, does nothing but studying the differences and similarities between these law systems.

Besides the civil law systems we have different religious law systems. Some of them can be classified as Christian law systems.

Here is a list of things I do not consider “Christian values”:

  • Democracy is not a Christian value. The Gospel is not a political message. Jesus has no problem with big contrast between rich and poor (Luke 17:5-10), neither with the dictator-like Roman emperor (Mt 22:15-22) nor with the fact that Romans occupied the Jewish territory and forced Jews to join their army (Mt 5:41).

  • Some people believe that a traditional family with a father, a mother and children is a Christian value. The family is a basic element of most human civilizations and should be protected by our laws. But it should be protected for sociological reasons, not for religious reasons. It is not a value we can call “Christian”. Jesus himself was born into an untraditional family. See more.

  • Some people believe that obedience is a Christian value. I don’t think so. Obedience is important when we want to collaborate and achieve great things together, and it is a very good thing if you have good laws and a good leader, but this is a general wisdom, it is not particularly propagated by the Gospel. The Gospel rather encourages us to evaluate our laws and leaders with a critical eye and to not obey when a law is against God’s plan. See also Jesus started a religious revolution.

  • Some people believe that abortion is always a sin because the Bible says You shall not kill. But this rule has been written in a time when humans had very little medical knowledge about how a child develops in a mother’s womb. Our knowledge has evolved since then. Reality is more complex. See About abortion.

Maybe we need to realize that Christian values cannot be formulated as a definitive list like those mentioned above. The Gospel does not bring a new value system, it brings a new way of seeing value systems, how they change over time and how to handle conflicts between cultural groups.

If there is one unique law system that can be called the Christian law system, then this law system cannot include detailed rules about abortion, family or marriage; it must be at “another level”, in another “world”, the invisible world.

My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world. (John 18:36)

“The average man on the street believes that Christianity is a religion that imposes a particular morality with specific ethical behavior. He has concluded that “a Christian is one who lives by certain rules and regulations imposed upon him by divine or ecclesiastically dictated ‘thou shalts’ and ‘thou shalt nots,’ and that behavioral conformity to these moral codes of conduct is what the Christian strives to perform in order to please and/or appease God.” The tragic part of this misconception is that Christian religion has “faked” the world into believing that such is the essence of Christianity.” – James A. Fowler, 1998, Christianity is NOT Morality

Here is a list of things I would call “Christian values”. But they are my ideals, they are what I read from the Bible, and I cannot expect you to have the same list. Your list may differ because your personal experiences differ. On the other hand it is always great to discuss with other people about such lists of values. You are welcome to send me your feedback.

  • Don’t judge yourself and others based on earthen values. The value of a human is much more than money, success, wealth and health.

  • Be merciful. Forgive your fellows when they did something wrong. This will help you to not fear when you did something wrong. See Mistakes are good.

  • Be modest. Don’t say “I deserve this”. Because of course you deserve it. Of course you deserve your fellows’ attention, respect, love. Of course you deserve something to eat and drink, clothes and a place where you can rest. Of course you also deserve a beautiful car, house, bicycle, phone and whatever you may need for your life. But don’t worry about these. Worry rather about whether your fellows have them as much as you.

  • Be simple. Don’t ask for more than you need. Humanity won’t survive if we cultivate ideas like “Good enough is not enough”. The most satisfied are those who need the least.

  • Cultivate civil courage. Don’t be afraid to question the human laws and cultural rules you adhere to. No human law should give you permission –or enforce you– to act against God’s plan.

To do: read Meta-Values: Universal Principles for a Sane World by C. Franklin Truan (2004)