Christianity demands very high ethical and moral standards from its followers. Explain this statement in relation to Pauls ethical teaching.

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“Christianity demands very high ethical and moral standards from its followers.”

Explain this statement in relation to Paul’s ethical teaching. [35]

Most people think of Paul as a theologian, and a difficult theologian at that. Even within the New Testament there are people saying that Paul's letters were anything but easy to understand (2 Peter 3.16). But for Paul every theological argument ended with a series of ethical imperatives. In letter after letter the theological argument, however difficult it may be, ends with an ethical section which is crystal clear. In 1 Timothy the object of the letter is to show 'how one ought to behave in the household of God' (1 Timothy 3.15). The New English Bible margin translation of Titus 3.8 runs: ‘Those who have come to believe in God should make it their business to practise virtue.' Paul is every bit as great and earnest an ethical teacher as he is a theologian. In examining his very high ethical and moral standards, a good place to start it how it relates to Jesus.

Paul’s ethics are based on the teachings of Jesus but he develops further the principle that Christians are representatives of Jesus. Christians must “be imitators of God” and of Jesus Christ. They should also imitate the faith and example of the great founders of Judaism, along with the example of Paul himself: “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ”. For this reason Paul requires that the Church “live in harmony with one another” since disunity and discard brings dishonour to Jesus himself it sets an unworthy example. Essentially the Christian ethic is one of agape love – not a flame of passion which dies but a steady, undying determination to love others as Jesus loved them and, no matter what they do in response, always seeking their highest good. The Christian will always try to overcome evil with good and bring a new tolerance to all personal relationships. This may involve taking a stand where necessary and becoming the victim of persecution. This is one of many areas where Paul demands high ethical and moral standards; the believer must be prepared to suffer for their actions.
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Following on from this, a specific example that could be examined is Paul’s teachings on marriage and sex. The Christian is expected to behave to a very high standard in this regard. Peter Brown observes that 1 Corinthians 7 is "the one chapter that determines all Christian thought on marriage and celibacy for well over a millennium." The beliefs and practices of the Corinthian saints seem to vary greatly when it comes to matters of sexual values and conduct. Paul rebukes the church at Corinth for failing to exercise church discipline on a man living in an incestuous ...

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