Christians often disagree regarding matters of personal holiness. Those defending themselves against the charge of sin for some X will often respond by saying, “It’s not that bad.” Of course, to say something is “not that bad” is tantamount to saying it’s “not that good” either. In such cases, we should be honest with ourselves and others and just admit that X is not spiritually advantageous for us, even if it is morally tolerable. Would we be better off if we abstained? Perhaps. Are we sinning if we don’t? No.
If we’re honest with ourselves, all of us engage in activities that fall into the “not that bad / not that good” category. While we are quick to admonish others to jettison such things from their lives for the sake of their spiritual growth, we will defend our own “not that good’s,” and are often reluctant to change. It’s easy to tell others to avoid some X, but it’s much harder to heed someone else’s admonishment to give up our own X for the sake of our spiritual growth. What’s the difference?: We like our X, but not theirs. Self-interest plays a critical role in what we see as right and what we see as wrong.
While we all have some “not that bad” activities we engage in, and while these may be morally acceptable in and of themselves, we need to assess the ratio of “not that bads” we engage in to the number of “goods.” We can only participate in so many “not that bads” before our spiritual health will suffer and decline. If we engage in more behaviors that are “not that bad” than those that are “good,” and are never willing to jettison some behaviors that are “not that bad” for the sake of improving our spiritual health, in the end we may find that our spiritual life will be, on balance, “not that good.”