"Morality is doing what is right, no matter what you are told. Religion
is doing what you are told, no matter what is right." - H. L. Mencken
"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." - The sentiment
known as the Golden Rule, was reiterated many times down through history.
Ethics and Morality
The physical world works via laws that are inviolate, where
what works or happens is always in accordance with physical law. When there is an
attempt--intended or not--to do something that violates natural law, it
either does not work at best, and at worst it imposes a heavy penalty. There
is no liberty, flexibility or wiggle room, no tolerance or patience, no
mercy or forgiveness.
The spiritual world
works by principles, where what is ethical is always contingent upon the
context and situation. This is called "Situation Ethics", which is the
reasonable, human alternative to legalism. Legalism is trying to treat the
spiritual world as the physical world in terms of law, treating the Creator
as the great lawgiver instead of the great founder of eternal principles.
From my perspective, our legalistic or law-oriented
religious culture and society a long tine ago has
confused and conflated two different terms and
issues and have made a rat’s nest out of the
terminology that relates to ethics, ethical, moral
and morality. These words relate to the same aspects
of human behavior and its effect, but originally
pointed in different directions, toward the effect
on others or toward the effect on ourselves.
To me, ETHICAL relates to how we treat other people
in a way that is good, fair, supportive and
constructive for THEM; UNETHICAL would signify
actions that are bad, harmful, unfair or dangerous
for OTHERS. MORAL relates to how our actions affect
US, whether they ultimately increase our morale and
self respect., or whether they are demoralizing.
IMMORALITY is largely a false, confused, shallow
and legalistic construct based not on eternal
principles but on freedom-and-liberty-restricting
fiat law constructed by catastrophically,
spiritually damaged human mythmakers. If an action
or activityis ethical and not harmful or dangerous, and
increases MORALE, it would be moral. Let us be
mindful that increase in MORALE is the only
defensible or justifiable purpose/objective for the
existence of reality. Actions and developments
either increase MORALE or they are DEMORALIZING.
In my opinion, we should drop the word IMMORAL and use
MORALIZING and DEMORALIZING, the only two things
that ultimately matter.
Ethics and morality are related and affect each other but
are NOT the
same thing. Few issues are as confused and conflated as the difference between morality
and ethics! Morality is concerned with the increase or decrease in our
morale, and ethics is concerned with what is good, beneficial, uplifting
versus hurtful, harmful or dangerous
to others. Of course, in this noisy, confused world they have been
conflated or amalgamated, and the difference has been blurred. The
difference between the two can be said to be in the direction they are
pointing. What is moral is that which increases our morale while being
ethical. This dictates that legalism is actually demoralizing..
God's revelation has nothing whatever to do with
Ellul, The Subversion of Christianity, Wm. B.
Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, MI, p. 69.
course, Ellul is right because he is referring to the traditional yet false and arbitrary
One of the issues, if not the key
issue, is which one should we be more focused on, be more concerned with?
The quick and easy, "traditional" answer according to the
definitions above would be "ethics". Think of others before you think of
yourself! But of course, this is wrong headed because it violates the
spirit of inspiration and enlightened self interest.
"You cannot love others unless you first love
The best, highest and purest form of motivation comes within the context of
enlightened self interest. This is where ethics and morality lose any
tension and fuse into a two-sided reality. When you know who you truly
are, you know that being unethical will ultimately reduce or limit your own
morale. The person you HAVE to live with is yourself! The key word, of course, is ENLIGHTENED!
Besides the conflation of these two different aspects, there
seems to be two additional major problems that confront us in
sorting these issues out. The first is, of course, that we do not live in an
ideal world, with ideal parents, ideal values, training and thinking, and
therefore it is unreasonable to expect perfect behavior. The second problem
is that we are awash in artificial, arbitrary fiat, false "moral" instruction that
comes to us from the legalistic faction of the various religions. And then,
"Oh, what a tangled web we weave!"
Morality is the
best of all devices for
leading mankind by the nose.
course, Nietzsche, like Ellul, is also referring to the traditional yet false and arbitrary
The Role of Influence
American schools are awash in moral instruction–on
sex, multiculturalism, environmental awareness and so on–and basically none
of it works. Sex ed doesn't change behavior. Birth control education doesn't
produce measurable results. The fact is, schools are ineffectual when it
comes to values education. You can put an adult in front of a classroom or
an assembly, and that adult can emit words, but don't expect much impact. -
The New York Times, Sunday, July 01, 2007
The article then presses on by explaining why it doesn't work, but
doesn't really address what DOES work, which is actually the more important
Shouldn't it be rather obvious that solid, wholesome, rewarding
relationships have the most influence, because we don't want to lose respect
and rupture such
an important aspect of our lives? When those persons with which we have such
relationships model and expect good ethics, then isn't that the MOST