“He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:9-14)
Jesus attacks those who trust in their own morality, rather than in the mercy of God. There is a sense in which the only moral option is to trust in the mercy of God. Anything else is immoral by comparison. Seriously, it is immoral to trust in your morality over and above the suffering and death of God, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. God did that for you. Yes, you. Anyone who looks at that as somehow insufficient betrays their trust in God. If you think you need to add to this in anyway, then you show yourself to be more immoral than a whoremonger. And only when you realize that, do you realize you have no call to look down upon anyone. The truth is, we would all like to be the tax collector in this parable. We realize soon enough that he is the hero of the story. But in reality, even the tax collector plays the Pharisee. As a friend says, embrace the paradox.