The word “ethic” is defined as “the discipline dealing with what is good and bad and with moral duty and obligation” (Merriam Webster, p. 625). This is a word used often, but though it is expected some will know the meaning and standard used to judge, it is not always the case that it is known. In this section of the bulletin we will be giving some consideration to the word from the Bible’s perspective. For instance, in Psalm 21, the NKJV used the word “evil” when speaking about the intentions of some people against the Lord’s way (Psalm 21:11). Though it is not explicitly stated, it is clear the standard used to determine exactly what is “evil” is the Lord’s standard of righteousness. In an ethical study or discussion there must be a standard accepted by which behavior is judged. Since the Lord’s standard of righteousness, as seen and revealed in God, is the ONLY standard that transcends man—it will be the Lord’s standard that is firmly in place to help us judge.
This is a letter to the editor I submitted to our local paper (Mattoon, IL). I submitted it yesterday and was surprised to see it in today’s paper.
Letter to editor,
I have often remarked that Illinois is known for two things: taxes and corruption. Some would say the two are intertwined! Perhaps so, but we now have a report that speaks of Illinois, Chicago especially, as the most corrupt in the country; Illinois ranks third in the United States as corrupt. “When it comes to corruption, no state has made quite [the] headlines of Illinois in recent years” (JG-TC, 2/16/2012, pp. 1-2).
How does Illinois or Chicago overcome this vice? One suggestion was to “extend ethic rules” and adopt ethic reforms. This is all well and good, but what is the foundation for these ethics? I have paid particular attention to the many who make use of this word but articulate no foundation upon which the ethics is based.
Many liberals and progressives ask the same question that Pilate asked a great many years ago: “What is truth?” This question will never be answered by them. It’s not that they do not know what truth is – because many do. It’s just that they do not want truth that is objective and transcendent of man. With such an “ethic” before man he will be called to account, and that is more than they want to give thought to. This implies a greater being before whom we must stand and be judged.
No, they want hedonism – where everyone makes their own rules as they go along! Hedonism is a teaching that promotes one’s personal happiness and/or pleasure. A hedonistic ethic can be based on economics and sometimes it is based on choices of another sort: “Does anyone have the right to criticize the parents that choose to abort or those that choose not to abort?”
Since ethics deals with what is good and bad, moral or immoral it’s always proper to ask upon what foundation will one’s ethical code be based. Evidently Chicago and Illinois base their ethics on their own happiness and pleasure!
Letter to editor,
An interesting headline reads, “What’s wrong with Illinois?” (Mattoon Journal-Gazette, Monday, 8.30.10, p. A-3). It is a headline that asks a question about why we seem to be at a moral impasse within government. “Is there something about Illinois that encourages governors to go bad?” we are asked. This is followed with the lament, “Illinois voters put them [George Ryan and Rod Blagojevich] in office despite serious questions about their honesty.” Finally, in order to help the reputation of Illinois government to get out of the morass of corruption, we are told, laws are passed. It has been once said that laws made are only for the lawless.
It is interesting to take note of the word “honesty.” This word is associated with a moral standard, a moral standard that has an opposite – the notion of a lie. When one tells a lie, there is a recognition that such a thing as truth exists. Truth has as its foundation what? Is man the foundation or is God?
Is it much too simplistic to suggest that the ethical problem of man is that he lives by his own standard? It is not only not too simplistic, it is dead-on right! One’s ethical foundation has everything to do with the moral code that guides. This truism is more complex than you realize. People who live by the higher standard of God need not laws passed in order to prevent them from doing wrong, for they will live by the standard of doing what is right. Unfortunately, when one is in an environment where corruption pervades, something has to give. Doubly unfortunate, it is the rare person that can hold strong when they are many “corrupters” out there seeking to destroy, and when one does hold strong, he (she) is the targets of all things evil.
Is this approach naïve? Liberals, progressives, relativists, and atheists tell us it is, but look at the result of what their philosophy has produced for us. Please tell us, how the philosophies of those just mentioned produced a bountiful crop of virtuous people?