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“A superficial reading of the epistle [Titus 3:8-15] for the 6th Sunday of Matthew gives the impression of dry moralism…The Christian faith isn’t merely a system of morality…he’s [St. Paul] not referring to moral precepts, but to the fact of salvation in Christ. This is to say that in historical time and place, the divine and human natures were united in Christ, without confusion or separation. Without ceasing to be perfect God, Christ became a perfect human person, ‘without sins’. He thus made it possible for us not merely to become better people, but to be renewed, to become new people, and heirs to eternal life. So today’s Epistle reading is anything but a excerpt from a manual on morality, because it reminds us of the purpose of Christ’s incarnation, which isn’t simply our moral improvement, but our induction into his one Church, that is our deification by grace and eternal salvation, for which we’re entirely responsible.” (Archimandrite Varnavas Lambropoulos)

“This false idealization of an outward moral standard is but one among many delusions we may encounter in the spiritual life. It is equally easy for us to mistake our own neurosis, the inner dance with the passions, for God Himself. The “inner voice” that many ascribe to God is frequently nothing of the sort. The practice of confession, in which we bring our hidden things out of the darkness and into the light, can be a safeguard against the many mistaken paths we choose for ourselves.” (Father Stephen Freeman)

“The moral code in our society always seems to be in a state of flux. What was sacred years ago is no longer revered as holy. What was immoral in times past is common practice in our day. What was moral is now old-fashioned. What was evil is now looked upon as good. Being in the darkness of sin is now considered being enlightened!” (Archpriest Steven John Belonick)

“Righteousness does not consist in correct behavior but in genuine co-suffering love… No deed has any moral value unless it proceeds from the heart motivated by love. Otherwise it is simply ethical or correct behavior according to one or another system of laws, a human work which any one in any culture, with or without faith in God can attain to. The Old Testament Law could help to preserve society but it could not save anyone, no matter how diligently they fulfilled it to the letter. Moreover, since it could not transform the heart, it could not even preserve the nation from falling constantly away from God. Our Lord Jesus Christ, the only one who fulfilled righteousness was motivated solely by love, co-suffering love. And This is why our Lord Jesus Christ became our righteousness on the cross and imputed that righteousness to us through faith.” (Archbishop Lazar Puhalo)

“True Christianity is not a system of beliefs, rituals, and morals through which we seek to gain food, clothing, shelter, the praise of others, or any earthly goal. It is not a form of legalism by which we hope to receive what we have earned from God, whether in this life or in the life of the world to come. Those who embrace a religion the chief symbol of which is the Cross must not focus on achieving success according to any worldly standard. Those who profess a religion which confesses that peace and reconciliation come through our Lord’s death and resurrection must seek to participate in the gracious mercy of the Savior, not to put God in their debt by their own accomplishments. Such distortions of the faith can never heal our souls or deliver us from constant fear, worry, and frustration. Indeed, they will have the opposite effect of further enslaving us to passions for pleasure, power, and pride that will never satisfy us or give us peace. They will teach us to remain in the spiritual blindness of trusting only in ourselves and judging everyone and everything according to what we think is in it for us.” (Fr. Philip LeMasters)

“ ‘…then you will understand how to fear the Lord, and you will discover knowledge of God’ (Proverbs 2:5). The term דַּעַת (daʿat, “knowledge”) goes beyond cognition; it is often used metonymically (cause) for obedience (effect); see, e.g., Prov 3:6, “in all your ways acknowledge him,”...This means that the disciple will follow God’s moral code; for to know God is to react ethically and spiritually to His will.” (NET Bible, Proverbs 2:5)

“Asceticism has nothing to do with moralism. The opposite of sin is not virtue but the faith of the saints. Moralism exerts natural forces, and its fundamental voluntarism submits human behavior to moral imperatives. We know how fragile and ineffective every autonomous and imminent ethical system is, for it is not a source of life. We can respect the law, but we can never love it as we love a person – Jesus Christ, for example. Christ is not the principle of good but good Incarnate. That is why in the tragic conflicts of existence, in the depths of some overwhelming sorrow or loneliness, moral and sociological principles are powerless. They do not have the power to say to a paralytic: ‘Get up and walk!’ They cannot pardon or absolve, wipe out a fault or raise the dead.” (Paul Evdokimov)

“We never make ethical decisions alone. Our moral judgments, and the actions consequent upon them, are always made within the living Body of the Church. Through our baptism, we are incorporated into one another; we become ‘members one of another.’ The decisions I make affect and influence the Body as a whole. Just as my own sinfulness has consequences not only for my family and friends but for the entire community, so my ethical decisions and their consequences involve and affect the entire ‘communion of saints’” (Fr. John Breck)

“St. Paul is clear that it isn’t the job of Christians to judge those outside the faith in terms of their morality, for they will answer to God like all of us. However, he argues that we must be more discerning within the Church about the behavior of all members in order to maintain the holiness of the Body of Christ. His words are important today as well, as sometimes Christians act as if they are the moral police of the world and have a right to condemn all sinners by Christian standards and even to impose Christian morality on non-believers. St. Paul advocates that Christians should pay more attention to themselves and not worry so much about the morality of those outside the faith…each person should pay attention to their own faults and not be constantly judging others (thus the Lord’s parable about seeing the log and the splinter (Matthew 7: 3-5)… even when it comes to judging those in the Church, one still has to be guided by compassion, mercy, love and forgiveness.” (Fr. Ted Bobosh)

“Our problem is not our morality: it is ontological, rooted in our alienation from being, truth, and beauty – from God Himself. Broken communion leads to death. Immorality, in all its forms, is but a symptom. However, God, in His mercy, entered into the fullness of our condition, our humanity, taking our brokenness on Himself: “Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” Hebrew 2:14-15. This is not the language of Christ as exemplar – it is Christ as atoning and deifying God/Man and Savior. The Kingdom of God as improvement, regardless of how well intended and managed, is still nothing more than a world of the walking dead. The Kingdom of God, as preached by Christ, is nothing less than resurrection from the dead.” (Father Stephen Freeman)

“The basic sense of the word “holy” is “set apart from that which is commonplace, special, unique.” The Lord’s holiness is first and foremost his transcendent sovereignty as the ruler of the world. He is “set apart” from the world over which He rules. At the same time His holiness encompasses His moral authority, which derives from His royal position. As King He has the right to dictate to His subjects how they are to live; indeed His very own character sets the standard for proper behavior.” (NET Bible, Psalm 78:41)

“While Christian ethical teaching often appears similar to other systems—Paul uses both Roman and Jewish ethical terms—the basis of Christian ethics is unique. Christians are good not merely out of obedience to law or harmony with nature, or in order to gain immortal bliss for the soul. Rather, they are righteous in anticipation of the age to come, the eschaton, the age of the fullness of creation in the incarnate Son of God. Grace (v. 11) is the uncreated energy of God, the gift of the Holy Spirit, through which He gives His gifts to man in tender mercy and good will. It is a formative power, the rule of life of the eschaton, requiring our determined participation. To belong to God is to become like God. To be ransomed, or “owned,” by God (v. 14) is not simply legal and static, but means to live in solidarity with Him: a blessed, victorious struggle.” (Orthodox Study Bible, Titus 2:11-15)

“In contrast with every other code of ethics, the Church does not seek to safeguard the individual, either in isolation or collectively; she does not aim at individual security, either transient or eternal. She asks man to reject his individuality, to ‘lose’ his soul. For this loss is the salvation of man, the existential realization of true life, of personal distinctiveness and freedom….The soul that abides in the Lord strives to obey His word and to cultivate a relationship with Him. We throw off bondage to sin through repentance and develop godly virtues within ourselves. If we persevere, we gain moral and spiritual freedom and learn to trust in God unquestioningly. We ultimately become those for whom God is truly Father through His love for the Son (John 8:42) in the Holy Spirit.” (Christos Yannaras, Dynamis 5/16/2020)

“Imagine the case of a morally perfect human being – one who has never committed an infraction of the “moral law.” To the surprise of many, such an individual would not constitute a model Christian, nor would they be an example of the goal of the Christian faith. It is not that the faith strives towards something less – rather, it is simply that such a model is the wrong example. Christ did not die in order to make us morally perfect. “God became man so that man could become God,” is the language of the Fathers. “Becoming God” is something that transcends the notion of moral perfection.” (Father Stephen Freeman)

“It is no surprise that many people today do not identify with any particular religion. They can have friends, get help from counselors, follow a moral code, and become respected members of society without membership in any faith community. If people lose interest in Christianity for those reasons, however, they have missed the point. For Christ did not offer Himself on the Cross and rise from the dead in order to make us well-adjusted citizens of this world, but to heal every dimension of our brokenness so that we will shine brilliantly with His divine glory.” (Fr. Philip LeMasters) 

“All human beings are created in God’s image; thus, we have a basic moral nature and a conscious…We should live above reproach morally so that we will reflect God’s goodness to others.” (Life Application Study Bible, Romans 1:32, Ephesians 5:8)

“The apostles carried on the godly attitudes taught in the Old Testament and by Christ our God. Naturally, they opposed vice. Of course they knew that the strictures of the Mosaic Law did not provide salvation, yet they did not reject the morality of the Old Covenant. They understood the Law as a clear explication of the will of God.” (Dynamis 11/7/2018)

“Only one who guards himself from all sin can have sincere and fervent faith. Faith is only preserved in the presence of good morals." (St. Nikon of Optina)

“Despite the overwhelming evidence that we are failing to transmit morality effectively to our children, we persist in teaching ethics as if it comes from a “how to” manual for successful living. Moral educators routinely introduce moral principles and even the virtues themselves to students as if they are practical instruments for achieving success.” (Vigen Guroian)

“Our struggles for moral improvement frequently have more to do with our inability to bear the shame of moral failure than of any desire for goodness. As such, they are a neurosis rather than a morality.” (Father Stephen Freeman)

“The ministry of Christ seems to have gone past the question of moral agency. Those who championed their choices (Pharisees) did not fare so well in their interactions with Christ. However, He seemed particularly drawn to those who occupied the broken layers of humanity marked by poverty, disease and bad choices. A woman taken in the act of adultery finds compassion. A woman living out-of-wedlock, having failed five times in marriage is engaged forthrightly and finds salvation. Christ seems to look past the moral brokenness and into the very heart of their existence. He answers with mercy even the failure of religious belief, “Lord, I believe! Help my unbelief!” (Father Stephen Freeman)

“The idea of reaching ‘a good life’ without Christ is based on a double error. Firstly, we cannot do it; and secondly, in setting up ‘a good life’ as our final goal, we have missed the very point of our existence. Morality is a mountain which we cannot climb by our own efforts; and if we could we should only perish in the ice and unbreathable air of the summit, lacking those wings with which the rest of the journey has to be accomplished. For it is from there that the real ascent begins. The ropes and axes are ‘done away’ and the rest is a matter of flying.” (C. S. Lewis)

“I’ve never understood why people sometimes say of Jesus, “Oh, he was a good man. A fine moral example. But I don’t believe he’s God or anything like that. I’m fine with respecting Jesus, but not the religion that grew up around him. This is sheer nonsense. The truth is that Jesus Christ in the Gospels is a terrible moral reasoner. As an example of how to behave he is far more irrational than any teacher of ethics in history. Read the Sermon on the Mount. Be meek to inherit the earth? Love your enemies? For heaven’s sake, your enemies! Just think about that. What madness. How can you love the people who are out to get you?” (Hieromonk Maximos)

“Truth, whether in terms of doctrine, ethics, thought, or daily moral practice, derives from one source, the Being, in whom everything has its being; and the Creator, who brought the creation into existence. The human being as part of the creation is not self-sufficient and autonomous for it owes its origins and existence to that Being whom we commonly call God. The human quests for identity and understanding of its place in the world, for creative self realization in history are realized in truths extant in and revealed by the Creator. And the Creator is both an inner presence and a cosmic reality, endocosmic and exocosmic…Christianity possesses a sense of the sacredness of the whole cosmos.” (Demetrios J. Constantelos)

“While the New Age movement, characterized by a belief in the spiritual world where all beliefs are equal, offers God without morals, the new atheists attempt to offer a world with no spiritual dimension and give us morals without God. This creates an extreme dilemma. If you try to build a world without God, something else will take His place.” (Rice Broocks)

"If we are able to better understand the ancient holy teachings of the Church regarding moral behavior, we can apply them to new circumstances, and continue in our historic calling to be healed and to heal." (Metropolitan Joseph)

"I could not help noticing the tenderness with which Jesus treated people with wounds cause by moral failure. A Samaritan woman with five failed marriages, a dishonest tax collector, an adulterous, a prostitute, a disciple who denied Him - all these received from Jesus not the judgment they expected, but forgiveness and reinstatement." (Philip Yancey)

“In a naturalistic worldview, a parentless orphan in the slums of Nairobi can only be explained in terms of survival of the fittest. We’re all just animals slumming it in a godless world, fighting for space and resources. The idea of justice doesn’t really mean anything. To talk about justice, you have to talk about objective morality, and to talk about objective morality, you have to talk about God." (Andrea Palpant Dilley)

“Many moralists, both Christian and non-Christian, have pointed out the decline in our moral sense, observed in recent years. It is at least arguable that this is almost wholly due to the decline in the first-hand absorption of Christian ideals. True Christianity has never had a serious rival in the training of the moral sense which exists in ordinary people.” (J.B. Phillips)

“Following a long list of religious rules requires strong self-discipline and can make a person appear moral, but religious rules cannot change a person’s heart. Only the Holy Spirit can do that.” (Life Application Study Bible, Colossians 2:23)

“To become a better person…is simply a description of a moral program. Morality has nothing particularly Christian about it. Morality is constituted by whatever agreed upon rules of behavior are desired at any given time. The psychological component of morality is no more than the interior adjustment to a desired behavior: behaving well and enjoying it. The transformation wrought by Christ is the manifestation in this world of the Kingdom of God. In its fullness, it looks like the resurrected Christ Himself. It is the union of heaven and earth, the created and the uncreated. It is a transcendental reality.” (Father Stephen Freeman)

“...if the knowledge of Jesus Christ is transformed into an ideological and moralistic knowledge, it closes the door to others and turns Christianity into a list of requirements. This reduces the message of the Church to yet another worldly political force.” (Abbott Tryphon)

“Morality asks questions of right and wrong. What constitutes right action and why? Virtue asks an even deeper question. What kind of person is able to think and act in a right way? In terms of the gospel, we can see virtue as lying at the heart of Christ’s statement, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” For someone who lacks virtue (is not “pure in heart”) even their reason and perception will be distorted. They will not only fail at doing the good, they will not even be able to see what the good is.” (Father Stephen Freeman)

“Morality is indispensable: but the Divine Life, which gives itself to us and which calls us to be gods, intends for us something in which morality will be swallowed up. We are to be re-made." (C. S. Lewis)

“The virtues of Christ are not acquired and sustained as a result of a forced effort of our human will where strive to consciously do what Jesus would do in all situations. Rather, sacramental living with the right heart, causes an inner transformation that results in the external actions that reflect these virtues and flow as naturally from within us breathing.” (Sacramental Living)

“Note that the apostle does not call “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” gifts, but rather the fruit of the Spirit (vss. 22-23). Fruit needs protection against insects and predators. Fertilizer is required to produce healthy, diseaseresistant fruit. Weeds must be kept down so that water and air free of pollutants may feed the trees and aid the fruiting. Likewise with the virtues: the Spirit does His part; we must do ours.” (OCPM 12/4/2015)

“The Lord allows a man's vices to humble his soul. Perhaps he will turn from them. But courage is one of the general virtues begotten by Wisdom. Courageous people enrich others in virtue.” (Orthodox Study Bible, Proverbs 10:4)

“What is Morality? How do we as Christians understand morality? Is it a set of rules, commandants, a systems of ethics? The answer is no. Morality is an internal natural response to a heartfelt relationship with Christ that manifests itself externally in the right thoughts and behaviors. Our morality is simply to be Christ-Like in all situations.” (Sacramental Living DVD/CD #6)

“Christian morality is not based on ideas but on a living reality: the life of the Holy Trinity in the Church.” (Orthodox Study Bible, Ephesians 4:4-6)

“…God’s perfect moral character highlights His glory and can be seen everywhere. God will never do anything that is not morally perfect. This reassures us that we can trust Him, yet it places demands on us. Our desire to be holy (dedicated to God and morally clean) is our only suitable response.” (Life Application Study Bible, Psalm 93:5)

“When God made our soul, it was beautiful and exceedingly honest, but if we turn aside from our natural state to morally depraved thoughts, we shall be living in vice. Therefore, let us willingly return to the virtue endowed by God within our nature...All we need is a willing heart, for the moral integrity of the soul consists in its spiritual part being in its natural state as it was created.” (Orthodox Study Bible, Joshua 24:23)

“Through baptism, Christians have entered a corporate whole whose health is at stake in the conduct of all its members. Sin is like an infection in the body; thus, moral action is not merely a matter of individual freedom and preference…everything that we do as Christians...affects the whole body of Christ." (Richard Hays)

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