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October 7, 2014 / Randall

Teach us to want: the quest to transcend evangelical moralism

There’s a basic difference between being moral and being moralistic. Being moral simply means doing what is right; being moralistic means doing what makes you right. A moral person can behave righteously for a variety of good or bad reasons; a moralistic person is concerned with being right. When your greatest concern is to be perfectly right, then you’re paranoid about doing what’s right for the right reasons, so you scour your motives for any trace of ulterior self-interest. This causes you to try to pick the most difficult, “selfless” path for all of your beliefs and actions. This moralistic approach to life is how people like me who grew up evangelical have been taught to approach all our decisions.

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