Tag Archives: ethics

Motives of Goodness

 

charity workers

Take a moment and think about your last choice to do the right thing. It have been an internal motivation, but dig a bit deeper. What is behind that? What worldview?

Oswald Chambers describes how our view of authority, obedience, and the human spirit work together.

 

There is nothing miraculous or mysterious about the things we can explain. We control what we are able to explain, consequently it is only natural to seek an explanation for everything. It is not natural to obey, yet it is not necessarily sinful to disobey. There can be no real disobedience, nor any moral virtue in obedience, unless a person recognizes the higher authority of the one giving the orders. If this recognition does not exist, even the one giving the orders may view the other person’s disobedience as freedom. If one rules another by saying, “You must do this,” and, “You will do that,” he breaks the human spirit, making it unfit for God. A person is simply a slave for obeying, unless behind his obedience is the recognition of a holy God.

Oswald Chambers (click here for his full article)

Perhaps you can take just a moment to think of God’s holiness. And think of why you obey. What supports that? And what can improve your practical ethics.

I’d love to hear your ideas.

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Clementi, bullying, and ethics

It would be easy to say the case of Tyler Clementi–the talented violinist, who recently killed himself after an intimate encounter, and streamed online by his roommate–was about Tyler’s homosexuality, or just technology run amuck. It would be easy to focus on a bullying issue, or a sexually based hate crime.

Even though those factors surround the incident, a root problem is overlooked if these aspects get the most attention.

Why did it happen? Because people didn’t act according to proper ethics. They had no understanding or appreciation to act ethically. It was an easy laugh to embarrass a roommate, and technology made it so simple. The choice to record and stream this video was possible, and that–to the perpetrators–made it acceptable to do. But there is more:

The obvious question is “why”? The simple answer is “a blatant lack of respect for another.” Selfishness.

Ethics teach to do right by another, not because we like it, or because we benefit from it, but instead because every human being has this unalienable right. Because we are human, we are endowed these quality, and must act accordingly.

Some people think sensitivity training will stop bullying. It’s just not enough. It calls attention to those who are different, but it does not provide a satisfying reason to treat them well. Treating a special education student, an immigrant, or a homosexual young adult in a “tolerant” way, or with unique deference, alone, misses the most important point:

We don’t respect others, be kind, because this makes us nice people. We don’t do it, simply because we wish to be treated that way. We don’t do it because people will like us more. We engage as we ought because it is right in itself. And that’s enough.

Ought is the word one cannot skip. The fact that we all comprehend an ought, points to a source outside ourselves as the barometer of ethical standards.

Who determines this? Who are the rule makers?

Sometimes it’s special interest groups; sometimes religious groups, sometimes it’s educated experts; sometimes it’s the presidence of laws. All arbitrary starting points, in and of themselves, that can be expected to fold, like a house of cards.

The bullies continue. The “good citizen” character building taught often in schools falls flat, or is soon overshadowed by self-interest.

Rather, it is a birthright to be treated properly, even before one is born. It’s a non negotiable imperative to which we must all abide. As a basic feature of our makeup and purpose, it is a meta-edict for humankind. A dialectic of grace.

Nathan is a child who attracts peer ridicule. My son speaks and moves in odd ways. He’s sensitive, and obsessed with trains. Recently, he was punched repeatedly in the crotch and taunted by 3 boys who were screaming a train song in his ear.

I could envision a similar fate for Nathan which happened to Tyler. Both were exploited for sport.

Share you comments about this case, or bullying.

Have you ever been bullied

Open Letter to Online Swipers

Swiping?

To Whom it May Concern (Which is probably most of you),

So, maybe you’ve wondered about using those easy to cut-and-paste photos you’ve seen online–EVERYWHERE. Is it “common law” to take what you find? Finders-Keepers, Losers-Weepers?

Well, copyright law, and creative/intellectual property law is a subject of widespread ignorance. I’ve checked with some people “in the know” to make us aware of the basics.

Simply put: Any content you happen to find online is not, by default, yours to use. It’s. Not. Yours.

By what if I’m not making money from what I swipe, er…um… borrow, like with my blog, for instance; what then, huh?

When in doubt, ask yourself this simple question: “Is it really mine?”

Did you make it? If not, it’s not yours.

If you know the person who made it? Still. not. yours.

That sounds so cut and dry. Perhaps even harsh. It hurts me to have to tell you.

What if I got the content idea somewhere, but change a few words so I can be the author?

Then, ask yourself this question: “Is it really an original twist, created by me, with my unique flavor, not just a bit rehashed?”

A parody is fine, but when your idea is not a true takeoff from the original–Buzzz. Infringement.

What about “fair use”? If something is out there for the taking, why can’t I use it?

Here’s the deal with that:

Creative Common (CC) status is one for fair use, but if an image or video is not explicitly cited this way (“CC”), for instance, one can find these types of images on Flikr), it remains “all rights reserved”. Just because swiping is commonand easy (what some mistakenly may call “common law”) does not mean it is ethical or legal to use it. And try to always cite the source of the piece, no matter what.

Take this example to heart: With FBI warnings we’ve all seen before the feature on our DVDs, it works the same way. Those materials are for private use. One is not allowed to copy, distribute, sell, or publicly use the material. There was an area school, in these parts, that was showing videos to students in the typical way. A School, mind you. A learning institution. A disgruntled student reported them, and FBI agents came and took all their things (videos taped from tv, DVDs that were not purely listed as for educational use, etc) and told them that even as a school, they could use show these things for educational purposes, but only temporarily-30 days. This school, like many people do, infringed on copyright laws. Notice: They weren’t making money doing it either. The same thing goes for music. If you make a DVD copy of songs for a friend, it’s stealing the songs, because they are not paid for. It’s called pirating, whether it’s for images, music, or movies. Do people do it all the time? Oh, yes. But they ought not to.

After 75 years, unless otherwise noted, the copyright goes in the public domain. Dover Publications specializes in items of this nature (art, books, crafts, etc.)

I mention all this, not because I expect people will do the right thing. I’m not the police, and I won’t be making my list, and turning you in. This letter serves as a warning that those who swipe are liable for theft. They could be sued for damages by the creator, production company, and corporation, etc. They could even fined by a governing authority. It’s something to remember if ones chooses to play fast and loose with copyright law.

It’s actually in our best interest as writers, creators, and even as regular citizens, to respect property rights and engage in the highest ethical practice in every case possible.

In a case like youtube, and other webscites like failblog, one uploads the video or photos for sharing and distribution. But if you’ve ever submitted to those websites, you will be asked to agree that you have the rights to upload it. The legal info is all there to read (usually in the terms and conditions section).

Ethics:
Why does it matter?

Especially is Everyone does it!

I don’t, and can’t agree with that sort of  premise for doing what we ought to do what we do (in this case: take or not take). The reasoning that swiping is okay because it does no harm is a purely pragmatic rationale. It is a consequence driven ethic. This is secular and baseless, and because of this, a rather inferior worldview and rationale for our actions. It is a flawed position because we never know the full repercussions of our consequence-based choices. (We cannot know the true consequences.) The ill-effects, or unethical fallout is not comprehensible; therefore, it, in itself, makes a poor foundation for our choices.

A Note to Ethical Folks, Christians (ethical or not), and Idealists:

Secular/Godless reasons for behavior are so mingled in our cultural fabric and common mentality, that we often don’t realize that pragmatics are an illegitimate reason for decision making. (I cover this more in a previous post called “How do we decide things”. To read it click here.) In case you are still confused, I should mention that I wrote it. It’s original writing, so that means I own the copyright and all rights are reserved (by me, the author), just *in case* you feel like doing a quick cut and paste for your purposes…even if you won’t be making $.  : )

Our standard for what we think, say, and do is founded on a perfect and holy God, whose nature and character is the basis for all goodness. We use a vantage point outside our weak, selfish, or flawed one, to order our world. Yes, it is the realm of Ideals that we must aim, though thorough perfection remains out of grasp.

Without this, all we our left with is fickle consensus, or individual and unanchored preference.

-yours truly,

Lisa

(comments? go for it!)

God as a Genie – Hoodoo Part III (moralist therapeutic deism)

Sociologist, Christian Smith and his team of researchers conducted surveys across America (and all religious preferences ) with over 3,000 youth, and got a feel for how they viewed God. (I would guess many American adults could score with similar results.)

The findings congealed into a perspective Smith terms,

“Moralistic Therapeutic Deism.”

Moralistic Therapeutic Deism consists of beliefs like these:

1. “A god exists who created and ordered the world and watches over human life on earth.”

2. “God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions.”

3. “The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself.”

4. “God does not need to be particularly involved in one’s life except when God is needed to resolve a problem.”

5. “Good people go to heaven when they die.”1

This view allows for much individual choice, values, and ethics, and nothing much in the way of a deepening relationship with the Creator.

It actually reminds me of how a child grows up. First, as a baby, the infant knows that something feeds him. After a while, he understands that certain things he does may cause certain needs or wants to be fulfilled. A little while later, the child comprehends that he has a person caring for him. Only much later does that child really respond to the parental love in any kind of reciprocal way, let alone, show much unselfish kindness to the parent. This is a good picture of the journey of spirituality, toward the heart of God.


1 R. Albert Mohler, Jr.| “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism–the New American Religion” Christian Post. Accessed November 16, 2009 from http://www.christianpost.com/article/20050418/moralistic-therapeutic-deism-the-new-american-religion/index.html 

(FULL article by R. Albert Mohler, Jr. called “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism–the New American Religion” here.)

Ethics in the work place – 4 questions.

signethics

I’m doing my final Ethics paper on Christian ethics in the work place, with a special focus on Christian business owners. 

Would you be willing to answer a few questions?

1. Do you feel you encounter more ethical dilemmas than your competitors/co-workers? 

2. How do you decide choices of right and wrong in your workplace? (what guides you, mainly? circumstances, consequences, natural law, governing rules, feelings, virtue, etc?)

3. What are some examples of ethical dilemmas that challenge you (Specifically, situations where you have to figure out what is right and wrong)?

4.Of some of the issues that have come your way, what has been the most difficult one/s, specifically? (explain why, and if you are willing, explain the outcome/decision)

Please note:

While you encounter plenty of tough choices, some will be “crisis of conscious issues” more than ethical dilemmas. A true ethical dilemma is not a tough choice between doing the right and wrong thing. It is when the right and wrong thing are difficult to determine. Things like stealing, lying, cheating, etc. in themselves, are not ethical dilemmas, because these things are already know to be wrong. (In that case, it’s not an ethical dilemma, but rather a crisis of conscious as to whether you will choice what you already know to be right.)

Thanks –
Lisa

(Feel free to leave a comment here, OR leave a comment that I should contact you, if you need privacy. No one will be mentioned by name in my paper.)

thank you!

1st Ethics Paper covers, so to speak, Nipple-gate

I am taking Christian Ethics with Dr. Miller at ETS

Our first assignment due this coming Monday was detailed thus: “Write a brief essay explaining his/her understanding of the relationship between the study of Ethics and ministry. ” 

I’ll include an excerpt of my paper, and how I kept my ethics class abreast of what has come to be known around here as “Nipple-gate”:

 

The entire episode (now termed “Nipplegate,” by some) reflects the ethical dilemma of my vocation. I have a role to play as a writer with a Christian worldview, and I am attempting to minister to Christians and non-Christians. Not everyone will be happy all of the time with what is authored and portrayed at my blog. This is an obvious impossibility. Predilections, doctrines, and convictions vary a great deal within my viewing audience. However, I have an undeniable ethical responsibility to my readership to well-reflect the standards of the God I love and serve. The questions become–what is truly suitable to allow at my site; and where and how must I draw the line that distinguishes personal preferences from God’s standards?

Thus far, I have come to a resolution to make all reasonable efforts to conduct the affairs of my site in excellence, with the hopes that in so doing, it will not make others stumble. (This has always been my philosophy, but in this case, it was botched as I let an aspect of the site remain out of exceptionally close oversight.) My overall method is not foolproof for avoiding every glitch, but it is a deliberate vision for my work.

A bit of perspective is in order too. Not just for the way I think about my work, and the way I offer it up to readers, but for promoting the worldview I believe–in, and of, itself. Yes, each decision we make counts in the big picture, but how much better to see the big picture first, and then zoom in from a bigger view, down, into ordinary life. God, perfect and holy, is our guiding Light. God’s laws and rules do not just give us a guide; they mirror the character of God himself. His perfection is the standard and starting point for our choices. Seen this way, we are better able to make wise and ethical decisions.

That being said, it is the overarching decisions that carry the most import. So when Jesus sums up all the law and the prophets into the Great Commandment2, this is not an annulment of the law, but an encompassing of it. Sometimes in and among the nitpicking decisions and details of our conduct choices– even during our attempts to be righteous–we miss the Great Command altogether. God is marginalized by the rules themselves, and neighbors are trampled more than anything. It seems if the Spirit of the command is upheld, much of the rest can sorted out more easily.

When we attempt to deal in microcosms of various everyday ethical situations, we must not miss the point of the greater good, as God defines it. God defines it in the essence of who he truly is. His nature and character are the basis for our decisions that we must work out in practical and contextual ways. As we bump up against perfection, with our solutions, we come up as less-than-perfect. We inevitably do not meet the standard. Thus, we prove our need for God’s grace and forgiveness, and the grace and forgiveness of those around us. It is failed ethics balanced by applied grace that sustains, and saves us from the ethical ideals we can never attain, but must continually aim for, as they are reflections of Reality itself.

It will be my approach to apply the Great Commandment as the ethical plan in my ministry. As a foundation for my will, thoughts, motives, and deeds, my hope is to strive to keep these things fully loyal to God, the author and finisher of my faith; and to keep his human creation honored. This loyalty will mean laying aside self, and selfish ambition, but not just for the greater good. In reality, I will be attempting to set my life toward the world as is truly is, with God as the source of good, and goodness. This way will also be a light, enacted with those to whom I minister, as it reveals my core beliefs, Christian worldview, and the truth of God as revealed in Scripture.

 



2 Matthew 22:37-40 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

 

 

 

 

 

 I’d love to hear your reflections on the topic of ethics in ministry, or any related topic I’ve discussed here. Thank you for reading.

-Lisa

How do we decide things?

funny_road_signMany of us weigh the decisions we make against the consequences that may happen. For instance, a financially desperate person might say, “I need money, but if I rob a bank, I’ll surely get caught.” A person with a more developed sense of morality may instead reason, “I need money, but that money is not mine to take.” Either way, some kind of assessment of right and wrong takes place, or at the very least pragmatics, which is the determined usefulness, or useful outcome of a particular action (like robbing a bank.)

Pragmatics gets down into the everyday choices, and can be the default setting for our choices. It’s like a common denominator. But really it’s not very good ethics that drives those kinds of decisions. Instead it is only the perceived consequences at the wheel, steering the choice. While it may seem practical to decide something based on whether it will help or hurt, or be useful or not useful, there is a glaring flaw in this method.

What is it? Simply put, we can never truly know the actual consequences of our choices, or their ramifications which lay in the future. What may seem helpful, can hurt many, instead of help. Or, sometimes certain people are helped, while others suffer greatly. History is quite full of these sorts of examples, and we continue to repeat them.

We can abandon a foundation of pragmatics, (the consequential, illogical, ad hoc reasoning method of decision making) by choosing from an altogether better starting point. God. It sounds so simple, but I will not say it is. But, what I refer to is the ultimate ideal, outside ourself–perfection. (Think: Socrates’ model)

The reference of God “himself,” and the nature and Standard of our best choices actually resides in and with God. The best values, the best and most perfect way–that is the way of God. More than that, it is how reality is grounded. God is the ultimate reality. Yes, we won’t measure up. In about two seconds we won’t, to be honest. However, this is not the reason to head for pragmatics, and assume The Good is not possible, a worthy choice, or viable for a standard–or at least the aim, of our own choices. It is the goal of each of us to decide to not choose for ourselves, or for the consequence alone, but for what is the ultimate Good.

Weigh-in with your take, or insights. I realize this particular post is a lofty one. Yes, and idealistic!

ALSO-Please help me spread the word about this website. I would love to have more regular readers. Many thanks to those who’ve read today!