Out From Under the Umbrella

playing in the rain


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God Honors Laws of Man

Panorama_of_United_States_Supreme_Court_Building_at_Dusk

From my facebook files:

Man can create laws, but God already has his laws in place and there is no higher court capable of overturning or revising those laws. Make no mistake…God will not honor any laws created by man. Have no fear, He is still on His throne! And He still loves all sinners….me included.

Dear facebook friend,

It is fortunate for you that what you have been and done for your whole life isn’t illegal. That somehow makes your past not so…sinful. Sure, you’re straight. But you got knocked up out of wedlock. And, like me, you’re divorced and remarried.   And, really, I think you have that whole thing about God not honoring the laws of man all wrong.  Your Good Book says:

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.  For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended.  For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.  Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.

 This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.  The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.  Romans 13: 1-10(NIV)

 

Sounds like God approves of marriage(that’s what we’re calling it now).  So please stop making the baby Jesus cry.  Show your neighbors some love and respect, will ya?

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Fool Me Once…Won’t Get Fooled Again(The Who)

This song seemed rather poignant for me today for some reason – especially that first verse.  How many revolutions, both literal and figurative, will be fought over hard and fast definitions of morality and doctrine?

Battle lines are drawn and blood is shed – literally and figuratively.  And for what?  For the pleasure of being in the right;  to lord it over those who don’t believe the same things we do; to claim victory; and to revel in another’s defeat.

We’ll be fighting in the streets
With our children at our feet
And the morals that they worship will be gone
And the men who spurred us on
Sit in judgement of all wrong
They decide and the shotgun sings the song


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On Morality

According to Webster’s morality is defined as:

mo·ral·i·ty

noun \mə-ˈra-lə-tē, m-\

: beliefs about what is right behavior and what is wrong behavior

: the degree to which something is right and good : the moral goodness or badness of something

And this definition is courtesy of  Bing Dictionaries

Definition of morality (n)

 
  • mo·ral·i·ty
  • [ mə rállətee ]
  1. accepted moral standards: standards of conduct that are generally accepted as right or proper
  2. how right or wrong something is: the rightness or wrongness of something as judged by accepted moral standards
  3. virtuous behavior: conduct that is in accord with accepted moral standards

The phrase ‘turn or burn’ caught my attention earlier this morning.  It’s a phrase used often in fundamentalist Christianity by those who believe in a literal hell. Turn from your wicked ways and get right with God or you’ll be in torment for all eternity.  I’m so glad I no longer believe that ridiculous notion.

Conversation ensued that got me thinking about morality and ethics.  We all know that legality has no impact on the morality or ethics of a given situation.  However many people, Christians and religionists(is that a word?) included, participate in highly questionable behaviors simply because there is a loophole in the letter of the law which allows for such behavior.  Not only that, many people would participate in other questionable behaviors were it not for the fact that they might get caught.  In other words, the only reason they don’t commit certain illegal acts is because they wouldn’t want to suffer the consequences of having done so were they to be found out.  They weigh the benefit to themselves to the consequences they might suffer to determine the ‘worth’ of their naughtiness.

I had this conversation not long ago with some family members.  We were watching an episode of an old television program call In the Heat of the Night. The premise of the show was the morality and ethics of capital punishment. That got us talking about morality and why we do the things we do.  These are not church-going family members but they are Bible-God believers.  They don’t believe they evolved, but were created, yet they pick and choose from the rest of the Bible the things they believe are true and the things they don’t.

One of them commented that, “without prisons and the death penalty the world would descend into chaos because people would offend with no consequences.”  I thought on that for a few minutes and posed the question: “Is the only reason you don’t do unethical and barbaric things because you’re afraid going to jail?”  To which they replied, simply, “Yes”.  When I said, “I don’t recall ever not being unethical because I was afraid I’d get caught”**, he elaborated and his wife joined in.  They both agreed that they, at some point would have committed murder or done serious bodily injury just short of murder [as a matter of vengeance or retribution], or committed theft, among a plethora of other things had they not been afraid of the consequences.  I thought, “Well, thank Dionysus for that!”  These family members would also classify themselves as moral, ethical people.

I’ve often joked that I wouldn’t steal from my employer because I’m not cut out for jail.  There is no way in hell I could do the communal toilet and shower thing.  That is a joke, of course.  That isn’t the reason I don’t steal from my employer, or murder someone, or vandalize.  I have a personal code of ethics that is independent of the law.  I know that mine is not the same as others’ and morality is a grey area.

In my line of work, which is accounting, I’m sometimes asked to do some unethical things.  Some of these things might only be unethical simply because they are against the law.  The tax code in America is a complicated animal and I frankly disagree with quite a bit of it.  But there are other things that are unethical regardless of the law. If it is unethical because it’s against the law I don’t do it because I am afraid of the consequences, but if it unethical because of my own personal code of ethics I refuse regardless of the law. I digress.

That got me to wondering if the only reason you give for not doing something unethical is fear of consequences can that really be called morality or is that just pragmatism?  Do people really not stop to consider what their personal ethics are and why?  Is there any such thing as morality?

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**I realize I’m saying this never having had a child hurt by abuse. Nothing makes my blood boil more than the abuse of children. I can imagine a scenario or scenarios where my compassion might have it’s limits.  Even though I, myself, have been abused, and even imagined being strong enough (or using artificial means to make myself strong enough) to defend myself, I didn’t act upon it – nor did I seek nor want retribution or vengeance.