The Illusion of Morality Free Zones
You think it is wrong to have premarital sex. I don’t. It’s a free country.
You make your choice and I’ll make mine.
THIS STATEMENT CAPTURES how many young people begin their moral reflections when deciding what they will and will not do concerning physical intimacy. It is certainly true that we live in a free country. Because a person decides what to do in life, the basis for the decision is personal conviction. The person may have to take legal consequences into consideration; the person may calculate family-related consequences; and the person may be influenced by institutions such as a school, local church, family, or peer group. Whatever the process of decision making or the influencing factors, in the end, the person, provided he or she is of age, decides.
As long as we Americans avoid breaking the law, we are pretty much free to choose to do whatever we want. We always exercise this freedom, however, within some kind of a moral framework, which results from the conglomeration of institutions influencing us. Even when we decide to adopt a new moral framework, we are exchanging it for an existing one. Simply put, we act morally long before we ever think about choosing a moral framework.
Parents hand onto their children the most important things they possess, including their own ethical system. Although it cannot be handed on like a prized necklace that is passed from one generation to the next, still it is possible to introduce children to an appealing ethical system. Patiently, carefully, and with good modeling and explanations, parents first insist on certain behaviors and then, as their children grow older, they build on that foundation by advocating and justifying a variety of activities their children should pursue.