Friday, August 15, 2008

Systems of Morality

I read about the Saudi Arabian system of morality at the same time some have been criticizing the nature of morality in the West. If you were living in Saudi Arabia you would have no doubt about the definition of Saudi morality. You would be expected to attend the public beheadings for violations of the Saudi moral code.

Morality involves a system of right and wrong, a set of principles. The Wahhabs of Saudi Arabia have such a set of principles; so they are not in doubt about what is moral and what is immoral.

Christianity also has a system of right and wrong. It is possible to determine what is moral and immoral in the light of Christian principles of morality.

When in the West one takes a stance as having left Christianity behind, has he left behind principles of morality as well? Not necessarily. Because our secular system of Morality represents (more or less) commonly held opinions of right and wrong, and since the Western state developed out of the Church, those principles of right and wrong are consistent (more or less) with Christian principles of right and wrong.

A system of morality is different from a legal code. It is not illegal for consenting adults to sleep with each other, but if one of the consenting adults is a man who is married and the woman he is with is not his wife, and the wife of this man learns about it, she may very well denounce him as an immoral SOB and everyone within hearing distance is probably going to agree with her, even the offending husband. It is immoral to commit adultery. It is just not illegal in the West. In Saudi Arabia this is a beheading offense.

Lawrence Helm

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