America’s Governance Moves from Morals to Ethics to Feelings

4/14/13:

Over my lifetime, America’s governance has rapidly moved from morality to ethics to personal feelings.  I have thought about this for some time.  Dennis Prager’s recent commentary addressing this issue prompted me to articulate my view.  www.dennisprager.com/columns.aspx?g=db034918-c664-4e07-9ddb-56379d839011&url=the-bible-vs-heart-n1554814

Mr. Prager made sure his reader understood his support of the Bible as a moral code was not based upon him being a religious Jew or a Christian.  He said he is neither, but of Jewish heritage.  His support for the Bible, both Old and New Testament, was based upon its advocacy of governance based upon morality.

I thought I would write a couple paragraphs on this topic, but I learned this topic to be adequately searched and written would require a manuscript of book length. In order to make sure I was using the term morality correctly I looked up the definition on the Internet.  The first listing on Google was the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.  Wow!  The URL is plato.stanford.edu/entries/morality-definition/.  It is worth reading as it supports the idea that morality is a moving target.  This entry was first published in 2002 and has undergone regular revisions through 2012.  I thought morals were more inflexible than this.  Ironically the authors of this ever changing document on morals insist one uses the original reference: Gert, Bernard, “The Definition of Morality”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2012 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = <plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2012/entries/morality-definition/&gt;.  Their insistence of original authorship recognition begged the question of whether the original Biblical reference should be the cannon.  Their article is worth reading as it supports my thesis that moral governance is in the eye of the beholder.

Now back to my Judeo-Christian world view’s condensed version on morals, ethics and feelings.  The Bible clearly lays out standards for human conduct.  For the purposes of this writing I will consider these of such high standards that they would constitute a moral code, the basis of which is the Ten Commandments.  (Deuteronomy 5 and Exodus 20)  These commandments were condensed in the New Testament to love God with all your heart and soul (mind, emotions and will) and love your neighbor as yourself. (Matt 19 and 20; Luke 10:27; Romans 13:9; and Gal 5:14)  The Bible also points out that any or all of these attributes are not possible for the natural person. (Rom 3:23).  The achievement is only possible should one choose to allow God to influence their thoughts and actions. (John 3:3; 1 Pet 1:23)  The difficultly of compliance was not meant as an excuse to missing the mark, mine or anyone else.

The American Constitution was based upon Judeo-Christian principles and therefore Biblical principles or what I want to identify as morals. The definition of which is variously expressed as “concerned with the judgment of the goodness or badness of human action and character”.  The definition further includes the origin of such standards; religion, societal, or personal.  The moving target of morals is clearly outlined by Bernard Gert.

The line is blurred between the definition of morals and ethics.  The various dictionary definitions do not clearly distinguish between morals and ethics.  If for sake of this discussion the Bible’s standards of conduct are considered morals, then we must search for a definition of ethics.  Ethic is variously defined to include “A set of principles of right conduct.”  I have come to understand morals to be the highest standards of thought and behavior.  It seems ethics are a step down since they are always preceded by some condition; i.e. medical, professional, etc.  The adjectives clearly change the perspective to represent the various groups’ interests.

Since the concept of ethics now includes the idea of “situational”, the standard of conduct becomes increasingly illusive.  The inclusion of situational ethics moves the standard towards personal opinion based upon feelings at any given moment in time.  This in effect is having no standard except how the individual feels at the time.  Perception becomes the standard and perception has been said to be reality.  However, perception may neither be real or true.  The challenge is to have one’s perception be in line with the truth and reality.  I think this requires a previously set high standard; i.e. Biblical morality.

For my own clarity, I have come to see Biblical morality as the highest standard of thought or behavior.  Ethics are conditional standards influenced by a group’s consensus at best or the situation at the least.  Placing “situational” as a condition places the standard in the feeling category.

That is where America is today.  The Constitution is considered outdated and should be almost ignored.  National politicians resort to deceitfulness if not outright lies.  The standards are only that which serve one’s purpose at the time. The Biblical standards have been removed from societal view and hence are no longer part of the discussion.  The citations for the preceding are easily found in print.

Since the 10 original laws and the single summation of such in the New Testament were rejected, we have an increasing number of laws to govern society.  California alone introduced 873 new laws for 2013. blog.stoptaxingus.com/2013/01/02/january-2013-873-new-ca-state-laws-for-you-to-trip-over.aspx.  The proliferation of government laws has done little to manage human affairs.  America has removed “Thou shall not kill” from the eyes of school children only to see the vulnerability of those same children to killing within the school.  America has moved away from Biblical moral principles of conduct via situational ethics to no rules at all.  This means of governance will eventually produce chaos and then anarchy.

The solution is probably not possible for America, but it is for me.  I must allow my conscience and the Holy Spirit’s conviction to bring to my attention my failures to meet the Biblical moral standard.  I make the corrections.  I ask the Lord to cleanse me from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9).  I ask forgiveness were I failed.  I make restitution were possible.

sible.

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