Caution Alert: I am about to get up on my soapbox! Just thought you should know. As a Theology professor, who teaches morality, at the undergraduate level, I can no longer remain silent. I perceive a real hunger for moral clarity, in our society, given the grave number of immoral acts emanating from our halls of government, here in the United States.
A Moral Act
Let’s start with a definition of a moral act, so that we are all on the same page. A moral act has three components: a deliberated choice, moral content and it’s personal. So, as an example, let’s take a tweet on Twitter. It is a deliberate choice to tweet. When the content of the tweet uses demeaning language aimed at another person, it has moral content, because the dignity of another individual is at stake. When that tweet attacks the personal character of another individual, it’s definitely personal.
We see President Trump tweet a lot, using the social media venue as his personal “bully pulpit” to demean anyone who disagrees with him. This act is NOT morally acceptable, as it goes against the Eighth Commandment. The Eighth Commandment involves much more than refraining from bearing false witness against another. Even if what the President says in the tweets are true, “By virtue of his or her dignity as children of God, every person has a right to a good name.” 1 So the degrading commentary within tweets demonstrates a violation of the Eighth Commandment. I judge the act, not the Tweeter.
Judge the Act; Not the Person
How do we analyze acts performed, without judging the person performing the acts? We look at the acts themselves. Every human act has three perspectives: the object, or the act itself, the intention, and the circumstances. As I state above, regarding the tweeting, all three components of the moral act are present to judge the act as a moral act.
A tweet, as the object of the act, in and of itself, is not necessarily a morally bad thing. I tweet all the time on how to bring souls closer to God. The object of my act is the same as President Trump’s: to tweet. My intention is to bring souls to Christ. President Trump’s intention seems to be to demean others (but that is for God to judge, not me). The circumstance is the same: to spread a message via a social media venue. So, it all comes down to intention. And this is where we need moral clarity, and where I believe our society is expressing a hunger for moral clarity.
Subjective Truth, or Objective Truth?
As a society, we are experiencing a moral vacuum, where moral relativism is winning the day. Rather than embracing objective truth, everyone is establishing their own parameters of truth; thereby applying subjective truth (we believe what we want to believe, because it makes us feel better). We “spin” the facts to suit our purpose; to deflect the truth, because maybe the truth is ugly. For example, with the recent election for the Senate seat in Alabama, President Trump and many other Republicans were willing to turn a blind eye to objective truth of eyewitness testimony of Judge Roy Moore’s behavior as an accused child molester, because it was more important to them to hold on to a Senate seat rather than face objective truth. This causes me great concern.
So much effort is taking place now to muddy the waters, so that people have no idea what is truth. We are at a point, in our politics, where the average person has tossed objective truth aside and replaced it with party loyalty. This is misguided at best, and very dangerous to our own souls at worst.
What will fill this moral vacuum? Will it be moral relativism, based upon subjective truth? Or will it be facts, based upon objective truth? I can’t read the future, so I do not have the answers to these questions. All I can do is to promote trust in objective truth, for that is where I will find Christ.
Filling Your Hunger for Moral Clarity
So, when you are next faced with a moral dilemma, ask yourself, what would Jesus do? Would Jesus send out a demeaning tweet attacking the dignity of another? No! Would Jesus lie? No! Would Jesus take political action that would benefit the rich at the expense of the poor? No!
You will find your moral clarity in the passages of the Gospels. Fill your moral vacuum with objective truth. Treat others as you would want to be treated. And remember, whatever you do for the least of us, you do for Jesus. Walk this path, and you will satisfy your hunger for moral clarity.
1 Armenio, Peter V. Our Moral Life in Christ, College Ed. Woodridge: Midwest Theological Forum. Print. 2009. p. 555.
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