What is morality?
Morality - the decisions we make about right and wrong, “the struggle to live well (K Himes).” It is also how we are oriented/directed towards God.
- A systematic and self critical study of good/bad, right and wrong.
Major Questions Morality Addresses
- Is there meaning to life, and if so, what is meaningful? What are different ways people have attempted to answer this question?
- How do you attain moral goodness (How do you become a moral person)?
- Are human beings naturally good or evil?
- What is evil and where does it come from?
Character- Our personal integrity, values, the sum total of a person's moral decisions. It can also be described about how good of a person someone is.
Moral Decisions are choices that make us better human beings and bring us closer to God.
Immoral Decisions are choices that make us worse human beings and lead us farther from God.
Know examples of decisions that do involve morality and decisions that don’t.
Values and Cultural Influences
Values - Things we assign meaning to which help shape our lives. In morality we often refer to them as qualities that are important to each person.
Many factors affect our understanding of morality. Culture shapes who we are. We have to examine the environment we live in to see its effects on our moral life. If a culture praises certain qualities, it will inspire people within that culture to develop those values.
Christian Morality Church - Morality is based on how well we love. Loving God and being a good person means loving your neighbor.
Here are several philosophies that contradict the teachings of the Church on what morality is about.
- Moral Relativism - Right, wrong and meaning are completely up to each individual person. Whatever you think is right to do is ok.
- Pelagianism - Goodness is something that needs to be achieved through our own choices. We make ourselves become good and earn heaven/salvation through our own efforts, if not, then we aren't rewarded. Your value as a human being is based on what you do.
- Nihilism - The belief that nothing in life has any real meaning or value.
- Individualism - The idea that each person needs to whatever it takes for his or her own benefit (or family) regardless of how affects others.
Make sure you can identify the following:
A) Where do you see these philosophies in society?
B) What potential problems could occur if you followed the belief of these philosophies?
Christian Morality - Human Nature and Dignity Human nature - the way human beings have been naturally created. It’s based on their tendencies, attitudes and behavior. Catholics believe that human nature is good, although people have tendencies to go against their nature and make wrong choices.
Human Dignity is the Catholic belief that all people are made in the image and likeness of God. “God created human beings,
made and found it to be very good (Genesis 1:26, 31)."
-Because all people are made to be like God, and God is both in and with each person, all people are sacred and valuable.
-Every human life has meaning and is graced.
- For Catholics, the best way to describe God is perfectly loving. Therefore, God’s grace is freely given to us by God.
- Human Dignity is not something that has to be earned by good behavior or that can be lost with sinful choices.
-It is not given in different amounts. God cares for everyone the same, perfectly, 100%.
- Human dignity involves seeing and treating all human beings as if they are in a sense part of a family or community.
- Because we are all sacred and have dignity, the Church says that we all have certain human rights.
Incarnation - The Incarnation is the belief that God has chosen to become a human being instead or remaining in the form of God.
- The Incarnation is the revelation of the goodness of being human. God chose to be human because being a human being is good.
- What truly unites us with God and makes us like him is to be a better human being. Anything that makes us truly a better person and makes us more authentically human also makes us more like God.
- Anything that causes us to turn away from the goodness of humanity or treat others as if they are undignified is an obstacle to relationship with God.
- The real origin of evil and sin is to reject the goodness of being human, that we are not really made in God’s image. It is to disagree with God’s statement about the goodness of creation and to think that nothing has any worth or is any good.
According to Scripture, Catholics believe that Jesus became human like us in all things but sin.
Explicit Christians - People who believe and accept the teachings of Jesus and the Church.
Implicit Christians - People who live out the teachings of Jesus in their lives.
Sources of Morality What factors affect your morality and decision making?
Internal Factors - Intuition - Your first reaction towards things, your "gut feeling."
- Emotion - Your feelings and moods affect the way you make decisions
- Conscience - Your ability to tell the difference between right and wrong.
- Reason - using facts, logic and observations to support your moral reasoning.
External Factors - Authority - Cultural Influences - Religious Beliefs