Six Principles of the Self-fulfillment Moral Code vs. the Christian Moral Code

Hipster girl taking picture smartphone self-portrait, screen view

David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons have once again teamed up to produce a book that aims to help the church live faithfully in a culture that is increasingly hostile to the Christian faith. In unChristian (Baker Books, 2007), they diagnosed the problem and reported what a new generation thinks about the Christian faith (hint: it isn’t good). With Good Faith (Baker Books, 2016), this time they attempt to help readers “be Christian when society thinks you’re irrelevant and extreme.”

The book is an encouraging resource for Christians who feel boxed in and confused by culture, and who may be wondering whether it’s time to disavow central tenets of historic Christianity in order to stay current. It also offers a refreshing approach to engaging in difficult conversations that may be more unique to our 21st century, such as racial reconciliation and gay marriage. Although there isn’t anything particularly groundbreaking in the book, the anecdotes, humble posture, and heart for seeing God’s kingdom remain a beautiful force in our society is deeply admirable and instructive.

There is one section in particular that addresses the common moral code found in our culture, appropriately titled the “self-fulfillment code.” It then juxtaposes that with the Christian moral code (p. 56-61). Set side-by-side, this could be a way to help non-Christians engage with the thrust of the Christian faith in ways that recognizes both its subversiveness and its winsomeness.

Self-fulfillment Moral Code

1. To find yourself, look within yourself.
2. People should not criticize someone else’s life choices.
3. To be fulfilled in life, pursue the things you desire most.
4. Enjoying yourself is the highest goal in life.
5. People can believe whatever they want as long as those beliefs don’t affect society.
6. Any kind of sexual expression between two consenting adults is fine.

Christian Moral Code

1. To find yourself, discover the truth outside yourself, in Jesus.
2. Loving others does not always mean staying silent.
3. Joy is found not in pursuing our own desires but in giving of ourselves to bless others.
4. The highest goal of life is giving glory to God.
5. God gives people the freedom to believe what they want, but those beliefs always affect society.
6. God designed boundaries for sex and sexuality in order for humans to flourish.

What do you think? How can the church present the Christian faith in a way that is both winsome and subversive?

Image attribution: Misha Beliy / Thinkstock


Andrew is an editor for Seedbed. He enjoys spending his free time with family and friends, doing design, photography, and gardening. He lives with his family in Tennessee.


  1. Learn and teach history.

    Since we’re basically running off the fumes of our Christian foundation here in the good ol’ USA, we haven’t (as a culture) experienced the full brunt of the negative consequences of sin.

    We do not know what the long-term consequences of baby-daddies, same-sex marriage, and open relationships are. We don’t remember the reasons why America refused to drift toward the secular-humanism that France and other European nations embraced in the 1800s and onward, and instead adopted holiness. We don’t remember a time when men escorting women home at night was done out of practicality and not some outdated, “sexist” code of etiquette. Frankly, our cultural memory doesn’t reach back even past 30 years.

    The Old Testament is chock-full of stories of a redeemed people forgetting their miraculous deliverance and choosing instead to rebel against God openly while still reaping God’s blessings. I don’t know if that message can ever be made winsome, but it can certainly be subversive!