What is Reasonable to Expect of People?


What you say sounds super-human. Is it really reasonable to expect the people to do it? Indeed, who can do it?


The question about who can do it was asked a long time ago. St. Peter asked it of Christ when he was listening to His teachings. The answer of Christ was conclusive: “With men these things are impossible. But with God all things are possible.”

This is the point. Christian morality is, strictly speaking, not a human morality designed for the happy life in this world. Christian morality is the morality of perfection. “Be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect.” These are the words of Christ in the Sermon on the Mount.

Such a morality in this world is really open-ended. It is never complete. As a matter of fact, it is the teaching of the Orthodox Church that man’s life is never complete even in the Kingdom of God. Man will always be “on the way.” His very perfection, as one saint put it, is always to grow more perfect.

To be as perfect as God is impossible to men. But to move toward this perfection eternally and forever is within man’s possibilities with the help of God. And this is the life and the moral position to which Christians are called.

The Church is always ready to forgive the sinner, since Christ is the Head of the Church and He has come exactly to save sinners. But while condescending to forgive every sort of sin and weakness and necessity to indulge in relativistic and morally ambiguous actions (such as warfare and politics and birth control…), the Church cannot give these actions complete approval and cannot change its gospel which proclaims that man is created for the Kingdom of God and divine perfection.