If I Like It, Then It’s Good

In thinking about Moral Judgments yesterday, I ended with this:

The question, then, isn’t should we make moral judgments. We do — that’s a simple fact. The question ought to be, on what should we base our judgments? And that will take a bit more thought.

When I taught seventh and eighth graders, I soon learned that a good number of the boys students found it amusing to look for double entendres, particularly ones with a possible sexual slant. I decided early on that I could either learn all the latest slang and work to avoid any words that might carry sexual innuendo, or I could teach my students to employ a little self discipline. I opted for the latter.

The problem I came up against was that some bright kids astutely said, in essence, But why shouldn’t we laugh? It’s funny. They were right, of course. Suggestive interpretation can be funny. Dirty jokes can be funny too.

So, I asked, is that the standard we use to determine what we listen to — if it makes us laugh?

It’s the question we should all be asking today. Is the standard we use to determine what we read, watch on TV, listen to on our iPods, where we go, who we hang with, how we spend our time, what Internet sites we visit nothing more than that it entertains us? Is the highest good, our feelings of pleasure — happiness, mirth, satisfaction, gratification, amusement?

You’d think so, judging by what we talk about and how we spend our time. But most of us realize there are more important things than what pleases us — the good of our family, for instance, or for Christians, doing what God wants us to do. In public schools here in California, the overriding principle students are to use as a guide for their behavior is, Do no one harm.

But all those and the countless other standards used in the business world, in government, in the legal system, in the marketplace, offer no definition for “good” or for “what God wants” or “harm.”

Is it harm to make fun of someone? If so, then why do we allow Saturday Night Live to stay on TV? Is it “good” for someone to be mocked for his lack of singing ability on national TV? Is it “what God wants” when we write a book that says there is no hell?

How are we to make such judgments?

We could go with what pleases us. Saturday Night Live is a funny show, so whatever they joke about is just fine.

We could say, A person gets what he’s asking for, so the clowns who try out for talent shows when they have no talent, deserve to get hammered. But does that mean someone cheering for the Giants in Dodger Stadium is asking to get hammered?

We could say, What we think is right, is what God wants us to do. So when people like President Obama support fetal stem cell research because they believe as a result, many, many people will be cured of diseases, are they doing what God wants because they believe in their cause?

Clearly, every issue has two sides. Who’s to say what’s right? Person A says pornography hurts a person and tears apart marriages. Person B says it’s an innocent way of releasing sexual tension.

Person A says abortion kills babies. Person B says abortion saves children from lives of abuse and neglect.

Person A says bullying is part of growing up and every kid gets teased. Person B says bullying destroys self-esteem and pushes victims toward retaliation of one kind or the other.

On and on, round and round. Is it true that we should just go with what the majority of people believe to be right? Do we take a vote? Today it’s wrong to throw Jews into concentration camps, but tomorrow, if we have enough votes, we can decide that good means Jews will be arrested and jailed?

Is there no fixed standard? No way to know what is right and what is wrong for all time? Or are we left to our whims or to the trends of society fashioned by the best propaganda money can buy?

One of the telling facts that came out of President Obama’s statements last month about the Supreme Court’s deliberations about the Constitutionality of the health care law was that he considered many people in favor of the law to be a reason it should stand and not be struck down. As if popularity outweighed the law he has sworn to uphold.

But President Obama is a man of the times. How does he define good? It would seem he does so by what he believes to be good.

Essentially, our society has come down to this: every person does what is right in his own eyes, and if he’s doing something the law says is illegal, he moves with greater caution so he doesn’t get caught.

There ought to be a better way to determine what is right and wrong. And there is.

Published in: on April 25, 2012 at 5:57 pm  Comments (7)  
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7 Comments

  1. If you feel like you have to justify an action, then its probably wrong. I think I have justified every sin I’ve committed.

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  2. Good food for thought!
    What does God say about it?
    Even though pretty self explanatory, I’d like to see you expound on your last, great lines:
    “There ought to be a better way to determine what is right and wrong. And there is.”
    Good job, as usual, Rebecca.

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  3. Bob, I’ve never heard that method of discerning right and wrong, but it makes sense. It’s just that I don’t know if I’d always recognized when I’m justifying my actions. Some times things aren’t black and white and they need to be thought through. Is that justifying my action? I don’t think I can say so or I’d be saying I should never think things through, you know what I mean?

    Still, when in doubt, there might be a “trying too hard” rating that can keep us from doing what we shouldn’t. 🙂

    Becky

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  4. Len, my intention yesterday was to do just what you suggested, but I realized how long the post was, so I’m heading that way today. 😉

    Becky

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  5. […] this short series about moral judgments, I concluded in the first post that we all make them and in the second that there needs to be a standard by which to make them besides what do I […]

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  6. Josh McDowell has had an understanding of prevalent thought among teenagers and young adults for quite some time, that many of us from the previous century, have missed.

    The concept of personal interpretation of the worth or value of an idea or an action, as opposed to a reliable, outside, Biblical law about the same thing, has chilling consequences, when followed to its logical conclusions.

    Here is just one example: One person says it is wrong to let a child wander in the street and another says the child should choose for himself, whether to be in the street, or not! The second person may go so far as to insist that it is “wrong” to impose our opinions on the child. But the danger is still there. During the debate, the child is free to opt for the street, and he does.

    By the way, did you know that scientists have now discovered that children are not likely to be mature enough to be considered an adult, until age 25? Can you guess that I believe if you think you should put a roof over a child’s head, you can surely shelter him or her from the unnecessary pain and death, caused by sin?

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  7. […] said plenty about Moral Judgments in the earlier posts here, here, and here, but one more thing jumps out at me. Anyone who believes truth is relative is on thin ice […]

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