Sitting at home in St. Vincent on my veranda on this Sunday morning, I considered the morality that we should expect from those that lead us.
Would any good Christian man with good Christian values behave in a way unbecoming to Christianity?
The basis of all Christian morality and the same for Catholic Christian morality, is a belief in the God who created all things and in Jesus, who taught us even better how to live. Christians should believe they are created in God’s image and that they, and all creation, are basically good. Yet they should recognize their own tendencies toward evil, especially in an excess of their desires.
At the core of the teaching are the two commandments: “Love the Lord, your God, with your whole heart, your whole soul, your whole mind, and with all your strength” and “Love your neighbour as yourself.” This implies that a certain selflessness is an intrinsic part of the reign of God, where we treat others as though they were Christ, since we should see Christ in every one of them.
Our moral life must be based on trying to live and treat others as Jesus did.
Many biblical accounts inform Christian ethics. This includes the Noahic Covenant: the commandments which “were often reduced to three by Christians: avoid fornication, bloodshed, and blasphemy or idolatry”.
Most Christians are actually unaware that there are 613 Commandments from God, not just the 10 that most all Christians are aware of. The tradition that 613 commandments [“613 Mitzvot”] is the number of mitzvot in the Torah.
Today the commandments that most Christians observe are the basic Ten Commandments, which all Christian should follow. They figure prominently in today’s Christian ethics.
The Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:2-17 NKJV)
1 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me.
2 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My Commandments.
3 “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.
4 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labour and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.
5 “Honour your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.
6 “You shall not murder.
7 “You shall not commit adultery.
8 “You shall not steal.
9 “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.
10 “You shall not covet your neighbour’s house; you shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbour’s.”
Even if you are a pretend Christian, if you are an atheist, agnostic or other person who doesn’t accept any particular religion you almost certainly should also want to be moral. Your self-respect is better if you are a moral humanist and other people will respect you as well.
Can a man be accepted as a Christian good or bad who is a fornicator? A sexual predator? A person of loose morals? A man consumed with hatred, malice, spite and evil and commits or oversees sheer evil behaviour towards others? A man that describes another man as the greatest man that ever walked the earth [whilst not talking about Jesus Christ]? A man that is obsessed with personal power at any cost, who climes over people to gain power, calling them nasty names in the hope that it will damage their reputation? Can he be a good Christian if he claims to practice a non-Christian quasi-religious act such as obeah? If he is a Marxist, whereby Marxism basically as an atheist philosophy is known to instruct its followers to pretend to be Christian. In fact, can a man that commits all those things even be considered a Christian at all?
The answer to most of those questions may be a surprise to you all: yes he can; he can be a Christian, he can be bad Christian. Some will say there can only be one kind of Christian — a Christian. But we all know there is good and bad in every corner of life, including Christianity.
Marxists and Secular Humanists rely almost exclusively on their economic or naturalistic philosophy to determine ethics. Postmodernists argue for a morality based on shared “community” values and Cosmic Humanists assume that everyone acts morally by following inner truth determined on an individual basis. Christians, on the other hand, believe that moral norms come from God’s nature or essence. Rather than believing in some passing fancy bound to society’s ever-changing whims, as Christians we are committed to a specific moral order, a heritage, revealed to us through both general and special revelation.
We may define this common moral heritage as anything from an attitude to a conscience, but however we define it, we are aware that some moral absolutes do exist outside ourselves. According to this universal moral code, whenever we pass judgment on such a man we are relying upon a yardstick that measures actions against an absolute set of standards. Without a standard, justice could not exist; without an ethical absolute, morality could not exist.
This objective, absolute standard is apparent throughout humanity’s attitudes toward morality. According to a secular philosophy, we should treat all morals as relative—but in practice, even secular society treats some abstract values such as justice, love, and courage, as consistently moral. Secular society cringed and still cringe at the Nazi holocaust, the Russian prison system of Siberian gulags, and the abuse of children. We cannot explain this phenomenon unless we accept the notion that certain value judgments apply universally and are somehow inherent to all mankind.
So perhaps unless a man can live to certain standards that would be accepted as good behaviour, whether Christian or whatever belief he has, society should reject him, certainly as a leader, as a man that may cause others to behave badly as well. But because he is rejected as a leader, we should adopt him to adapt him, so as to help him, to try to make a decent man of him. That’s what we should all choose to do as Christians.
Peter Binose. I swallowed the whistle.
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