More About Ethics
Jesus said, "But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash."1
In my early days of ministry I was the South Australian director of Youth for Christ. At that time my most effective ministry was teaching Religious Instruction classes in the public high schools. Even though Australia is a very secular country, back then all students in public grade and high schools were required to attend a half-hour religious instruction class every week in school time. Strange as it may seem, students had to have a letter from their parents to be excused from attending these classes.
The classes were taught by the local churches and students could attend the class of their choice. However, the various church denominations voted to discontinue teaching these classes. At the time I remember talking to the assistant chief of police (superintendent) who was not a religious person, and he was furious at the churches for doing this. He said to me, "Students badly need religious training." (NOTE: I have since learned that there has been instituted an Office of Chaplains for South Australian Schools which is now placing full=time church-paid chaplains in all state-run high schools and many grade or primary schools.)
Also in the city of Adelaide, the local city council in the area where I lived for a number of years emphasized the importance of the work that local churches were doing for the betterment of the community. There was no obsession about the separation of church and state supposedly being a part of the U.S. constitution. In fact, even non-religious people wisely acknowledged the need and importance of religious training and the work of the church for its social service and its teaching of morals and ethics.
Admittedly, there are some failures in church and religious circles but unfortunately it's these stories that the news media thrive on. They neglect to report on the tremendous impact that the church makes on society. Imagine what America and other countries would be like if all the church doors were forced to be closed? Sad to say, today too many anti-religious groups are accelerating their aggressive attacks on Christianity and tearing down our Judeo-Christian morals and ethics—the very foundation on which this nation was founded.
And here's just the tip of the iceberg of the effect this is having on our society. Chuck Colson in BreakPoint wrote some time ago: "A reporter for Forbes magazine observed an ethics class at Harvard Business School in which the professor and students discussed case studies but avoided coming to any moral conclusions. Students were graded on how well they could logically defend their position, not on whether their position was actually defensible. The reporter wrote that students in this kind of class, rather than developing moral principles, merely "develop skills enabling them to rationalize anything short of cannibalism."2
"A poll by George Barna3 showed that 54 percent of people who called themselves born-again Christians do not believe in ultimate moral truth—without which, of course, there can be no ethics."4
If you and I are going to make a difference and have an impact on our society, we need to first of all live what we say we believe. And there is no greater resource than God’s Word, the Bible, for knowing what is ethical and what is not. Furthermore, unless we Christians believe that God’s Word holds ultimate moral truth, there is no hope of transforming society. Without this authority every man becomes a law unto himself.
Furthermore, if you would like a simple and effective formula for ethics, consider the following. In the book Ethics for Today, which was a text book for a college course I took a number of years ago, the author, whom I believe was Harold Titus, said words to this effect: If anything is helpful to myself or another—physically, emotionally, socially or spiritually—it is ethical. On the other hand, if anything is harmful to myself or another—physically, emotionally, socially or spiritually—it is unethical.
May God help each one of us to live accordingly.
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, in this day of the accelerating erosion of our moral and ethical foundation, please help me to know Your Word, believe Your Word, and live in harmony with Your Word and thereby help to make an impact in 'my world'. And help all Christians and Christian churches to find a way to make an ever increasing impact on our nation to rebuild and strengthen our moral and ethical foundations before we pass the point of no return. Thank You for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus name, amen."
1. Matthew 7:26-27 (NIV).
2. Dan Seligman, "Oxymoron 101," Forbes, 28 October 2002.
3. "Americans Are Most Likely to Base Truth on Feelings," Barna Research Online, 12 February 2002. http://www.barna.org/
4. Chuck Colson, BreakPoint, http://www.breakpoint.org/