You are on page 1of 5

What is the definition of morality?

Morality is the quality of being in accord with standards of right or good conduct or a system of ideas that fall into those same categories. We often hear words about religious morality or the phrase Christian morality in society. Items that fall into the morally sound category are qualities like good, goodness, rightness, virtue, and righteousness. When talking about a moral quality involving a course of action, we think of ethics. To define morality, a person will use the rules or habits with regard to right and wrong that he or she follows. It is a complex system of general principles and particular judgments based on cultural, religious, and philosophical concepts and beliefs. Cultures and or groups regulate and generalize these concepts, thus regulating behavior. When someone conforms to the codification, you consider this person to be moral. And yet, the notion of how we ought to behave and the reality of how we do behave are varied and real morality behaves in accordance with one's perception of morality. Often, doctrines or moral duties that support the quality of an action which renders it good, is moral. And so a system of standards used to produce honest, decent, and ethical results are considered moral. Morality Defined Morality speaks of a system of behavior in regards to standards of right or wrong behavior. The word carries the concepts of: (1) moral standards, with regard to behavior; (2) moral responsibility, referring to our conscience; and (3) a moral identity, or one who is capable of right or wrong action. Common synonyms include ethics, principles, virtue, and goodness. Morality has become a complicated issue in the multi-cultural world we live in today. Let's explore what morality is, how it affects our behavior, our conscience, our society, and our ultimate destiny. Morality and Our Behavior Morality describes the principles that govern our behavior. Without these principles in place, societies cannot survive for long. In today's world, morality is frequently thought of as belonging to a particular religious point of view, but by definition, we see that this is not the case. Everyone adheres to a moral doctrine of some kind. Morality as it relates to our behavior is important on three levels. Renowned thinker, scholar and author C.S. Lewis defines them as: (1) to ensure fair play and harmony

between individuals; (2) to help make us good people in order to have a good society; and (3) to keep us in a good relationship with the power that created us. Based on this definition, it's clear that our beliefs are critical to our moral behavior. On Point 1, Professor Lewis says most reasonable people agree. By Point 2, however, we begin to see problems occurring. Consider the popular philosophy "I'm not hurting anyone but myself," frequently used to excuse bad personal choices. How can we be the good people we need to be if we persist in making these choices, and how will that result not affect the rest of our society? Bad personal choices do hurt others. Point 3 is where most disagreement surfaces. While the majority of the world's population believes in God, or at least in a god, the question of Creation, as a theory of origins, is definitely hotly debated in today's society. A recent report in Psychology Today concluded: "The most significant predictor of a person's moral behavior may be religious commitment. People who consider themselves very religious were least likely to report deceiving their friends, having extramarital affairs, cheating on their expenses accounts, or even parking illegally." Based on this finding, what we believe about Creation has a decided effect on our moral thinking and our behavior. Without belief in a Creator, the only option that seems to be left is to adhere to moral standards we make up for ourselves. Unless we live in a dictatorial society, we are free to choose our own personal moral code. But where does that freedom come from? The view of many who do not adhere to Creation is that morality is a creation of humanity, designed to meet the need of stable societies. All kinds of life are in a process of deciding between life and death, choosing what to do with power and/or authority. This ultimately leads to a system of virtues and values. The question is: what happens when our choices conflict with each other? What if something I believe I need in order for my life to continue results in death for you? If we do not have an absolute standard of truth, chaos and conflict will result as we are all left to our own devices and desires. Morality and Our Conscience Morality impacts our everyday decisions, and those choices are directed by our conscience. Again, we must decide for ourselves where the conscience originates. Many people hold to the idea that the conscience is a matter of our hearts, that concepts of right, wrong, and fairness are "programmed" in each of us. This is in keeping with the writings of Paul the Apostle, who points out that even those who do not believe in God frequently obey God's laws as given in the Ten Commandments: "for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them" (Romans 2:14-15 (NKJV)). Again, those who do not believe in God are left with the only possible conclusion they can come to - that our decisions are based solely on

our need to survive. What we call our conscience, then, would be based on learned behavior, rather than part of a Divine design. How important are ethics and morality in our world? Ethics and morality are vitally important in our world. The differences, according to cultures and countries, are evident in wars, disputes, laws, and newspapers. Controversies over stem cell research have recently made headlines. Some countries embrace the use of embryo stem cells to help with incurable diseases. Others have cried out over the sanctity of life in the womb being invaded. Other countries have sought to use adult stem cells to scientifically find cures for certain diseases. Laws, also differing in regards to same-sex marriage, have been enacted. In Europe and Canada, governments are endorsing these unions, while in the United States, the people have voted against the uniting of people of the same sex as a legal institution. AIDS is a sexually transmitted disease, prevalent amongst gays and lesbians. This is a consequence as a result of the breach of natural law. A same-sex marriage does not allow for a natural procreation of generations to take place. Ethnic cleansing is a method used by governments and factions to remove certain cultures from within their country. No matter what term people use to describe killing other people, it is still called murder, which is a lack of ethics or morality. This abhorrent killing has led to wars in Iraq, Bosnia, and other places when those who disagree with this action resort to military force to correct or stem the tide of ethnic cleansing. Abortion has moral and ethical implications for each pregnant mother, doctor, and nation. Its the devaluing of life that makes it easy for abortionists to perform their work. Life is most precious. How many aborted fetuses may have been brilliant scholars, doctors, inventors, and scientists who may have had the answers for which we are searching. Morality and ethics certainly have different meanings for different cultures, but basically the same standard of life should be used. The test of time will prove if the decisions made today are the right ones. There is a consequence to each one, whether good or bad. What are moral values? Moral values are the standards of good and evil, which govern an individuals behavior and choices. Individuals morals may derive from society and government, religion, or self. When moral values derive from society and government they, of

necessity, may change as the laws and morals of the society change. An example of the impact of changing laws on moral values may be seen in the case of marriage vs. living together. In past generations, it was rare to see couples who lived together without the benefit of a legal matrimonial ceremony. In recent years, couples that set up household without marriage are nearly as plentiful as traditional married couples. But, not only are such couples more plentiful, they are also more accepted by other individuals in our society. In earlier society, the laws and morals simply came from the Roman system of law, which was largely based on the Ten Commandments. As society moved into the modern era, that earlier system of laws became more and more eroded. Moral values also derive from within ones own self. This is clearly demonstrated in the behavior of older infants and young toddlers. If a child has been forbidden to touch or take a certain object early on, they know enough to slowly look over their shoulder to see if they are being observed before touching said object. There is no need for this behavior to be taught; it is instinctive. Once, however, any form of discipline is applied to modify the childs behavior, the child now gains the capacity within himself to distinguish his right behavior from his wrong behavior. Now, the child can make correct choices based on his own knowledge. The choices that are made by an individual from childhood to adulthood are between forbidden and acceptable, kind or cruel, generous or selfish. A person may, under any given set of circumstances, decide to do what is forbidden. If this individual possesses moral values, going against them usually produces guilt. Religion is another source of moral values. Most religions have built-in lists of dos and donts, a set of codes by which its adherents should live. Individuals who are followers of a particular religion will generally make a show of following that religions behavioral code. It is interesting to note that these codes may widely vary; a person whose religion provides for polygamy will experience no guilt at having more than one spouse while adherents to other religions feel they must remain monogamous. Christianity goes beyond all other religions in that it is more than just a system of dos and donts; it is a relationship with the living God through His Son, Jesus Christ. A Christians set of moral values go beyond societys mores and selfish instincts. Christians ideally behave correctly because they love God and want to please Him. This is at once a high calling and a low position. It is a high calling because God has required that all who love Him should keep His commandments; therefore it is an act of obedience. John 14:15 says, "If you love me, you will obey what I command. It is a low position because we must totally deny our own will to do what pleases the Lord. Christ Jesus as He lived His life on earth is our supreme example; if we pattern our behavior after Him then our lives are most valuable. John 15:10 says, If you

obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love.