Monday, May 20, 2013

The Moral Atheist

Each day we are all faced with "moral" decisions. We see this word tossed around by all people, but is there a single definition of morality? Christians see gay marriage as a moral issue because it goes against their religious teachings. The bible tells us about many things that mankind shouldn't do, which are labeled immoral.

If morality is based on religion, then that means non Christians can't be moral. That would mean those who came before Christianity couldn't be moral, yet they were. It's for this reason we must define morality.

Since mankind became a social creature they seemed to have lived under certain rules. If everyone stole from one another, the social order would quickly break down. The same thing could be said for murder. Morality seems to come down to protecting possessions and family.

Let's say you are standing in line at the DMV and someone accidentally bumps into you several times. You become fed up and kick the person in the shin. Which act was immoral? Of course it's the kicking. Instead of kicking the bumper, you become angry and kick your own shin. Is that immoral? Of course it isn't even if it might be extremely stupid.

Would cutting off your own hand be considered immoral? Under the Christian doctrine that forbids doing harm to yourself, then it would be immoral. In a non Christian society it might be seen simply as a mental deformity. In today's society many practice self mutilation in the form of tattoos, piercings, and body modifications. We could spend hours discussing the mental reasons, but I only ask—is it immoral? Some believe being gay or transgendered is immoral. None of those things harms anyone. There is even no apparent harm to themselves, yet all are often ostracized by some members of society because they see the acts as immoral.

Sometimes just being different can can create a perception of immorality. Even in today's world, some will say it's immoral for those of different races to marry. The biracial children from such a marriage could be, and sometimes are, stigmatized by society. The children are the only moral argument. In the end, that could be considered a moral dilemma. In a free society government doesn't interfere with interracial relationships, even if a moral argument can be made.

For many, one of the the greatest sins, or moral atrocity, is to have sex outside of marriage. What harm does this bring? As long as it's practiced carefully it should bring none. Morality only comes into play if pregnancy arises from that coupling. At that moment a third, non-consenting, party becomes involved. There then becomes a moral duty to care for that child. If one of the people involved in this relationship is married, then that relationship falls under the moral umbrella because there is another third, non-consenting, party that will suffer; the non consenting spouse.

I only bring this up because I am seeing the word moral used a lot by those on the right. For those who view the term as I do, then they think little of its use. But there are those who shrink away when they see the word moral glaring at them like the preacher on Sunday morning after you had stolen your sister's ice cream cone. If we want others to hear our messages, we must make them feel welcomed and eager to hear what we have to say. People don't want to be judged for their every perceived mistake in life. Morality is seen differently by many people. Most people just want to know what can be done to fix government while not having to sit in judgment of their peers.

The question was asked if the federal government should legislate morality. There was a resounding no, with only a few moralists who believed it was a duty of the federal government. So let's ask the same of state government. If we are going to give government the power to legislate morality, we must first define the term. Let's begin with biblical morality. The bible is clear that it's a sin to do harm to one's self.

Bloomberg is attempting to pass laws to prevent people from harming themselves in a variety of ways. He has placed limits and bans on foods such as hydrogenated oils, salt, and foods containing sugar. Is he obligated by morality to make these laws? I'll bet most on the right will say no, while those on the left will say yes.

It can be argued that by people eating unhealthy and living unhealthy lifestyles, places a fiscal burden on others. It is an undeniable truth that unhealthy lifestyles drives up health costs. If we are going to allow government to legislate morality, then we should be prepared to accept Bloomberg type laws in our own communities and states. By my own definition, that only when something affects someone else, it  is considered immoral. To stop Bloomberg type laws we must redefine morality to whatever directly effects someone else.

We must always be careful when we give government power because some individual will at some point come along and use those laws in ways we never imagined. What's moral to one person is immoral to another. Morality is relative to the perspective. What happens when you give the government power over morality and then one day your form of morality is a minority while Bloomberg's is in the majority?

No comments:

Post a Comment