Moral progress and the role we can play
A Christian Science perspective: How can we help support a climate of moral progress in the world?
Moral progress has been vital to a world that often seems tested by corruption within national governments such as acts of graft, fraud, and bribery. The Monitor editorial “Making the world safe for anti-corruption whistle-blowers” (CSMonitor.com) highlights the recent resignation of Ukraine’s economy minister, who was taking a stand against corruption in his country. The article explains that in many other countries “both foreign pressure and grass-roots campaigns have created a climate of approval for top officials to speak out about wrongdoing.” The minister’s example of moral courage – his “brave stand for ethics” – points to the potential for further such progress around the world.
Mary Baker Eddy, who established this publication, understood the importance of moral courage. Her book “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” states, “Moral courage is requisite to meet the wrong and to proclaim the right” (p. 327). Moral courage includes not only identifying and calling out wrongdoing, but also rebuking it in our prayers. This is done as we prayerfully claim man’s true nature as God’s spiritual offspring – reflecting only God’s goodness (see Genesis 1:31), and therefore naturally perfect, pure, incapable of wrongdoing. That this is our true nature means that qualities such as honesty, integrity, dependability, and unselfishness are inherent in each of us. As this truth about our real identity as God’s reflection comes to light, we’ll find more and more that moral progress is a natural outcome.
Christ Jesus’ moral courage, which stemmed from his loyalty to God and his fidelity to his real, divine nature, stands out as a strong example. He not only called out wrongdoing, but also prayerfully rebuked it with the complete confidence that, in reality, man is God’s perfect, spiritual offspring – created in His image and likeness, and therefore incapable of being corrupt. As Science and Health states: “Jesus beheld in Science the perfect man, who appeared to him where sinning mortal man appears to mortals. In this perfect man the Saviour saw God’s own likeness, and this correct view of man healed the sick” (pp. 476-477).
Are we making an effort to express the spirit of Christ Jesus, his moral courage, at every opportunity? This would also include resisting the notion that wrongdoing is just part of who man is. Striving to demonstrate moral courage is an important role we can play in supporting moral progress in the world.
I recall a time some years ago when I became aware that an individual at work was acting wrongly. Because of the level of this person’s position, there was a general fear of reprisal among those who might have taken a stand. It appeared that the actions were going to remain unchallenged. This did not seem right to me.
I often look to the Bible as a source of inspiration and answers. These words of Christ Jesus were helpful to me: “There is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known” (Matthew 10:26). I prayed to God to know what steps to take, also giving thought to the consequences there might be for myself and others if I came forward. I prayerfully acknowledged that God would lead the way for the wrongdoing to be uncovered, and that at the same time justice and fairness could be demonstrated for everyone.
As I prayed, I felt led and empowered by God with the moral courage to quietly bring the wrongdoing to the attention of senior management. I did so, and they were very appreciative and agreed that this situation needed to be uncovered and addressed. Positive steps were then taken that rectified the situation. I’m so grateful to God for giving me the moral courage I needed to support principled actions.
We can expect our prayers and efforts to act with moral courage to bless – not only in a strengthening of individual character and in situations in our own lives, but also in supporting a climate of moral progress and of approval for doing right.