hose who claim to believe in "absolute" moralities usually don't actually follow them, and don't even pretend to try.
A few years back I decided to study the ethical teachings of Jesus. I sat down with a notebook and pen and a Bible, and (over the course of a week, off and on) read through the four Gospels, taking note every time Jesus said something about what we should DO. I skipped through the biography, the travelogue, the miracle stories, and collected just the ethical teachings. (I later went back and did the exercise again on my PC, with a copy of the Bible downloaded from the Internet.)
I was a bit surprised by what I found. I would think the ultimate authority on what REAL Christianity consists of would be the words of Jesus, but it seems almost everyone will pick and choose, ignoring most of what he taught. If you quote Jesus regarding something he commands his followers to DO, they will reply "He didn't mean THAT." People who believe in the literal existence of Adam and Eve and the Talking Snake, suddenly get all poetic and metaphorical with the words of Jesus. Most denominations have settled on a minimal set of requirements for getting into Heaven, usually "believing" some short list of points. But if you take Jesus at his word, the entry requirements are much stricter.
I wrote my findings in an essay, which can be found at
I have edited the material from the essay down so that it fits on two sides of one page of paper, so it can be used as a leaflet.
When arguing with Christians, a lot depends on whether you want to make them think, or just make them go away and leave you alone. But, in either case, the following may be useful. I carry a few copies, to have it handy whenever I may need it.
IN TEN EASY LESSONS, THE ETHICS OF JESUS.
1. Judgement Day is coming soon, within your lifetime. First there will be famines, earthquakes, wars, and persecution. False prophets and false Christs will arise and show great wonders, to lead you astray. Then the Tribulation, and the Rapture, and the Son of Man will return with his angels, and sit on his throne, to judge all, and send all to Heaven or Hell. This generation will not pass away till all these things take place. But of that day and hour no one knows, so therefore you must be ready always. (Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21, Mark 9:1, Matthew 10:23, 16:28, and 25:31-46.)
2. Admission to Heaven is very selective.
"Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few.... "Not every one who says to me, `Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven." (Matthew 7:13-23, Luke 13:23-24.)
3. Therefore abandon all your Earthly ambitions.
"If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." ... "If any one comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple... So therefore, whoever of you does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple." (Matthew 16:24-28, Mark 8:34-38, Luke 9:23-27 and 14:26-33.)
4. Abandon your Earthly family; give your loyalty to God and your fellow believers.
Another of the disciples said to him, "Lord, let me first go and bury my father." But Jesus said to him, "Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead." ... "For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, ... He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and he who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. ... "Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?" And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, "Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother, and sister, and mother." ... And every one who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name's sake, will receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life." (Matthew 8:21-22 and 10:34-38 and 12:46-49 and 19:29, Mark 3:31-35, Luke 8:19-21 and 9:57-62.)
5. Do not seek Earthly wealth; if you have any, use the money to do good works.
"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven" .... "No one can serve two masters; ... You cannot serve God and mammon. " ... And a ruler asked him, "Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" And Jesus said to him, ... "One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me. ... For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." (Matthew 6:19-25 and 13:44-45 and 19:16-24 , Mark 10:17-25, Luke 18:18-25, and Luke 12:15-34.)
6. Do not seek Earthly power or authority; humble yourself, seek to be of service.
"You know that those who are supposed to rule over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. ... whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. (Mark 10:40-44, Matt. 20:25-27, 23:8-12.)
7. Follow the entire Law of Moses. Follow the spirit of the Law, as well as the letter.
"Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfil them. For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. " (Matthew 5:17-20 and 22:36-40 and 23:1-3, Luke 16:16-17 and 10:25-28.)
8. Overfulfill the Law, inside and out. Strive for perfection. Not only abstain from killing but also from anger. Not only abstain from swearing false oaths, abstain from swearing oaths at all. The law says "an eye for an eye", but Jesus says to abstain from retaliation; do not resist evil, do not strike back, turn the other cheek, do good to those that hate you. Practice forgiveness, mercy, reconciliation, and peacemaking. Not only abstain from adultery but also from lust; those who are able to make themselves eunuchs should do so. "You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Matthew 5 and Luke 6, and Matthew 19.)
9. Do not judge others. That is not your job; Judgement Day will come soon enough. Seek to purify your own character. "Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get." ... "Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For the measure you give will be the measure you get back." (Matthew 7:1-5, Matthew 18:20-21, Luke 6:37-42.)
10. Your faith will not save you; you actually have to do these.
"Why do you call me 'Lord, Lord' and not do what I tell you? ... Every one then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house upon the rock; ... And every one who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house upon the sand; and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell; and great was the fall of it." (Matthew 7:24-27, Luke 6:46-49; also Matthew 25:31-46.)