Pastor’s ponderings

As I write this, I am concluding a seminary course on Christian Ethics.  For the past many weeks, we have looked at how different people interpret good vs bad decision making, how laws and society drive our cultural understanding of decency, and why some people may make what others would consider to be a poor ethical decision.  In some group work, the team which I was on determined that there was only one way of looking at things – ethics are contextual.  In other words, there is no standard for what is good or bad, there is nothing that is completely applicable in all times in all places for all people.  As Americans, we look at things different than many other countries.  As Christians, we look at things different than many other faiths.

            I’ve spent a lot of time in the past few years studying the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), as I have always considered it a seminar in Christian Ethics.  In this text, Jesus spends a lot of time explaining that there is a big difference between what the people have come to understand as an ethical way of living and how it truly is that God wants us to live.  In reality, it seems, Jesus had to spend a lot of time correcting people’s way of thinking, correcting their societal ethics, correcting their standards for living a good life in relationship with one another.

            Yet, it wasn’t until I was watching an episode of NCIS last week that I truly began to understand.  In this particular episode, Dr. Mallard (aka Ducky), the team’s medical examiner, was preparing for a defense of another doctoral dissertation.  As such, his assistant asked him a question, to the effect of “What is the difference between ethics and morals?”  To which Ducky responded something like, “When making a decision, an ethical person knows the difference between right and wrong, but a moral person will always make the proper choice.”  I can’t help but to think this is what Jesus had been trying to teach, too.  Sure we can have all sorts of societal guidelines or laws that tell us the supposed difference between right and wrong, but in the end, it is up to us – it is up to each of us to make the right call, one which helps, not harms.

            I can’t help but to think about John Wesley’s famous saying, “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.”  What a way to live, right?  How different would our world be, if this was our constant way of thinking, our way of living a moral and ethical life as Christians?

                                                Always pondering,

                                                Pastor Steve

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *