What moral compass do you use?

We all need a moral compass, a set of rules or guides that help us make moral decisions.

The prevailing view seems to be that you make it up as you go along. So something happens and then you pick whatever way might suit you best at that time.

Sometimes people claim a rule, sometimes referred to as the golden rule in the mistaken belief that all religions and philosophies share it i.e. “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” or similar. This is OK for some situations but is not a universal rule for everything. It also seems to me to be very self focussed and so you consider what would be best for you and then treat others that way. Others think of something like the greatest good for the greatest number of people. Fine but isn’t that the way the Nazi’s thought during WW2. They considered it was better to eliminate a whole race of people to benefit the greater number. Yes, they were completely wrong but it fits this philosophy very well.

Then again who determines that these rules are the best ones? They are just a persons idea of what morality ought to be. Maybe they makes sense but is making sense a good enough reason to follow a moral rule. Again, the Nazi way made an awful lot of sense to a great number of people. Or what about Marxism – that made a lot of sense to an awful lot of people but when tried it resulted in the extermination of millions (no doubt based on the greatest good for the greatest number again). As bad, if not worse, than Nazism.

We have managed to get to a reasonably good place in our Western world. Not perfect by any means and still a long way to go, but consider what the moral foundation for all this is – Christianity.

Yes, the Church gets it wrong at times but has also been a great force for good in our society in the West. Please note I’m only thinking about the Western world at the moment. The principles taught by Christianity have helped move us forward in much of our attitude towards equality, supporting the poor and the environment. It was an appreciation of this that led many from previous generations to declare themselves Christian even when they did not attend church. They knew that the Christian faith offered them a moral bedrock on which they could build a better world.

Is the alternative to use a moral system that is based on people’s thought. Are our Philosophies supposed to be our guide? If you think science will then you will be mistaken because science – by its own rules – is morally neutral. There have been many Philosophies through the years, many of which have advocated approaches to morality that we would quickly reject now (try reading some of Plato’s ideas if you doubt this). People are just not smart enough and lack the ability to see into the future – an essential quality for any strong moral system.

Christianity offers a moral code beyond opinion. Even if you take God out of the equation it has demonstrated its ability to guide us into a better way of life. However, if we include God then we have a system that is based on someone who can see into the future and knows what the implications of its rules will be.

As before I freely admit that there have often been failures in trying to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ but where the rules have been followed – even if not perfectly – we have together managed to build a better world.

I believe it is time we reconnected with our Christian codes and started calling ourselves Christians again.

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