Living Morally


If you look at the ʺscripturesʺ of the world, that is, movies, TV, magazines, et al, you would think that sex is the highest idea in the world of ideas. It is used to sell all manner of products from entertainment to automobiles. There is even a bumper sticker you have probably seen that declares, unabashedly, ‘Reading is sexy.’ I guess the assumption is that you cannot get people to see the value of reading unless they can be convinced that it is somehow ‘sexy,’ or that they will somehow be seen as ‘sexier,’ presumably more attractive, because they are readers. What kind of reading they do is apparently not so important. Our culture has become so saturated by sexual immorality that the great, God-given gift of sex is becoming banal, and/or distorted into something unrecognizable. Indeed, this worship of sex, for the sake of sex, is destroying the concept of marriage more directly and more effectively than Karl Marx ever dreamed of doing with his atheistic and materialistic ideology. Indeed, to have the temerity to imply today that sexuality’s value is defined by moral parameters of behavior is to encourage endless, ribald ridicule from the so-called ‘cultural elite.’ While, in reality, what the ‘free love’ ideology of the devotees of the ‘Age of Aquarius’ has given us, instead of love, is a panoply of disease, denial, disorder, and death.

This is, of course, not new. Humanity has always fallen into the trap of immediate gratification and the desire to have the pleasures of the body, without the responsibilities. Our age is no different, except in degree. The irony, of course, is that this behavior has never satisfied us. Indeed, it has always caused us more pain and suffering than the sought after ‘pleasure without responsibility.’ Humanity has also always struggled with the ego and its prideful tendencies to ignore, or defy all that it assumes would limit it. As Christians, we believe we are made in the image and likeness of God. In this knowledge, we believe that we each bear within us an infinite dignity that deserves to be honored and respected in all humility. To diminish the value of our own dignity, or that of the other, in any way, spiritually, emotionally, or physically, can have no other logical effect than utter disaster, destruction, despair and death. The great irony of all this is that in choosing selfishly, out of the delusion that one is free to do whatever one feels is right for ‘one’s self,’ one makes oneself subject to the strict limitations of the law, and all of its unwanted and powerful punishments and limitations. On the other hand, if one freely chooses to live as Christ did, in accord with God’s law of love, loving God with one’s whole mind, one’s whole heart, and one’s whole strength, and likewise, one’s neighbors as one’s self, one discovers, paradoxically, the true freedom one has always sought.

What is the answer to the ancient question, ‘Am I my brothers keeper?’ Yes! What is the answer to the question, ‘Who is my neighbor?’ Everybody! To live a life of holiness, one must honor the infinite dignity of not only one’s own mind, body, and soul, but also that of the other. One does this by treating oneself as one would wish to be treated by others, that is, justly, lovingly, kindly, compassionately, and mercifully. To live this way, then, is to live beyond the law. This is what true freedom looks like. To defy this by choosing, rather, to be a slave to immorality, is insanity.

God want us to be free. He has given us both free will, and the guidance of his law of love. Immorality is a denial of the law of love. It is a denial of the infinite dignity of the other. This is a foolishness of incomprehensible proportions. The consequences of immorality are never positive. Rather, they are always destructive to the other, and to the self. No matter how much our present, relativist, and mindlessly politically correct culture attempts to rationalize immorality as the norm, it cannot escape the reality of the damage it has caused and continues to cause.

To live in accord with God’s law of love is both sane and a source of true happiness. To live in defiance of that law of love is the very definition of insanity. Immorality always exploits the other, the ‘neighbor.’ It is selfish and, therefore, there can be no such thing as love in it. As Christians, we are called by God to be selfless, and to love the good. We are called by God to lives of ‘holiness.’ A holy life is a life lived in love of God and of our ‘neighbors.’ Love does not take advantage of the other, does not use the other, does not diminish the value of the other for the purpose of self-gratification. Rather, ʺLove is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrong doing but rejoices with the truth.ʺ (1 Corinthians 13: 4-6)

Lord, help us to live moral lives with one another. Help us to see the infinite dignity in all others and to honor it with our respectful, loving behavior toward them. Help us, too, in our daily struggle for self-control. Let us practice it in all of our relationships. Help us to keep our eyes and minds always on you and your love for all of your children, Lord, rather than on that petty tyrant that is our own egos. We pray this prayer in your name, Jesus. Amen.

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Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site blog.
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