That’s a fact. But the fact that the argument has to be made at all shows that we Christians are somehow proposing that only Christians can be truly ethical.
That’s just not true.
And it’s fairly easy to empirically show it’s not true. (Do I really have to waste precious space explaining that non-Christians do good things for moral reasons, too?) So, the question becomes why we would be so vested in spreading this lie.
I’m glad you asked.
We wrongly sell Christianity as a life of rules one must follow to appease a watching, angry God. Therefore, our faith is about doing moral things. And if that’s the case (and it’s not), then how moral we are dictates how close we are to God. So, to imagine a world where a non-believer can be just as moral as Christians seems ludicrous because “being gooder” is the domain of Christians.
That’s a corruption of the message of the Bible, but if one believes it, then it becomes crucial to think non-believers can’t be moral.
There are lots of non-Christian jerks, and there are lots of Christian jerks. (The fact that there are lots—and lots, (and lots)—of Christian jerks alone should bear witness to the fact that we believers don’t have an ethical leg up on anyone else.) Ethics are everywhere…
…And ethics is not the message of Christianity.
The above is a message of fear, and faith in Jesus is the opposite of that fear, because…
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:18-19
The Christian faith is about love. To put a finer point on it—God’s love (and, yes, God’s love transforms the way we love others, but that’s not the good news. It’s a side-benefit of the good news). The message Jesus gave us to tell has zero to do with our own morality or ethics. As a matter of fact, it’s a message which demolishes any notion we might have that our goodness means a thing. The Good News of Jesus only makes sense after we understand the very bad news that our very nature separates us from God and that there is nothing we can do to earn God’s love. But that’s why God came—his great, ridiculous love for us.
“God made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Cor. 5:21).
The good news is that God gave us His righteousness as a gift because our righteousness wasn’t enough. That’s why any argument about Christians being more ethical than non-Christians is a load. It’s an argument for people who can’t stand the idea of a gift. It’s for those who dismiss the Good News with notions that they can somehow pay God back. We can’t. It’s not just that we do bad things, it’s that sin is like a virus that has infested us to our very core.
So, ethics? Feh.
Good deeds? Hah! Good luck.