So What Is Morality, Anyway? Bringing a Spiritual Perspective to World Events and Daily Life

Article excerpt

THERE it was. One of those questions parents struggle through. This parent, who has spent a big chunk of her life grappling with certain aspects of morality, felt her stomach squirm right up into her throat!

"For instance . . . ," my sixteen-year-old-daughter candidly continued. She explained that some of the kids at her school lie, cheat, steal, and backstab people, but then call other kids immoral because they smoke or drink or have sex with someone they love. "I know kids who are in love or who have had some problems with drugs or drinking, and they are really good people," she said.

I tiptoed through a relatively neutral explanation of morality-just enough for me to feel I'd kept the lines of communication open. (Parents know especially what I'm talking about here; a long monologue on the virtues of the Ten Commandments can have a pathetically low survival rate among many people these days, especially young people.) My daughter knew that to kill, lie, steal, or cheat is obviously not right, as the Ten Commandments make clear. But there were gray areas of behavior that were tougher judgment calls for her.

Later, I took the time to think about morality further. I asked God, in prayer, point-blank, what the heart of morality is. Then I listened for Him to guide me.

It came to me that morality is obedience to the law of good. The core of all goodness, according to Jesus Christ, is in the two great commandments God gave Moses-to love God, and also to love our neighbors as ourselves. When people live according to these laws, they bring into daily lives the good effects of peace, harmony, kindness, order, integrity, freedom-all the qualities that express God. This makes sense, because God is the source of good.

I once heard someone sum up morality by saying something to the effect that it promotes the highest good for the greatest number of people, and involves setting selfish impulses aside. You might argue that that morality doesn't sound like much fun. I know some people think of the Ten Commandments as a set of confining rules that restrict freedom. …