Ethics: What is morality?

Seems to me one of the questions near the surface during the election and now salient in our culture is, "What is morality?" There is a great rift between those who define morality as a set of rules for clean living and those who define morality more as social responsibility. For example, on one side of the rift are those who primarily view ethics in terms of personal morality. I spoke to one lady who said she abhors immoral gay marriage yet does not view war as immoral. She perhaps would represent the side that views morality as correct personal sexual and clean living choices based on how she views commands in Scripture. On the other side are those who view morality as a social value. I know another person who calls the war in Iraq and killing of tens of thousands of Iraqis, many innocents, immoral. The same person believes rejection of the Kyoto Protocol as an immoral rejection of care for the environment.

It seems painfully obvious that many people, Christians included, do not know how to ground and frame ethical decisions and beliefs. We need help. I believe the Jesus ethic of Shema plus loving your neighbor as self is the beginning place for Christians toward an ethic of both personal and social morality and responsibility. Ethics is a huge area of needed thought and dialogue today. In the next six weeks I'll be exercising my ethics muscles in researching and talking on a daily basis to thinkers, writers, doers on the theme of ethics. In 2005 Wineskins will publish an issue on ethics in order to provide a resource for knowing how to ground and frame and discuss and live out an ethical life.

I'm open to your input on ethics and on any resources you can direct me to.

GeneralGreg Taylor