Ethics - It's Everybody's Business

TRUTH and falsehood--issues of ethics and morality--are at the top of the news these days. There are voices all over the world speaking out courageously, cogently, realistically, against much that is untrue and unjust.In the face of great opposition, even vilification, imprisonment, and the threat of physical harm, people are showing remarkable courage. Many draw strength from their conviction of a higher power, from reliance on God. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, wrote, "By using falsehood to regain his liberty, Galileo virtually lost it. He cannot escape from barriers who commits his moral sense to a dungeon (Miscellaneous Writings). Falsehood, for all its persuasive promises and arguments from "necessity, puts mankind in a veritable dungeon of limitation. Environmental polluters, political campaigns devoted to winning by whatever distortion of truth it takes, cheating on taxes, cynicism toward government and apathy toward voting, intractable inaction on social needs that are at the heart of democracy's promise of equal opportunity--the list of unethical actions and their terribly limiting results is long and growing longer. Honesty turns out to be a very practical matter. But ethics isn't so much a matter of what we must somehow force ourselves to do. So long as the subject is seen in those unillumined terms, we miss the most important point. Ethics in fact is what is written in our hearts. The prophet Jeremiah in the Bible tells us: "After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more. The truth is that we have the nee d to act ethically because of the way God has made us to be. Christian Science powerfully sustains moral and ethical action by its explanation that man is the constant expression of God, Spirit, and not a one-time creation that subsequently went awry. Our true, spiritual individuality hasn't lapsed; it remains the expression of what God is. The fact is that man is always a great deal more than he appears to be. His real nature and dimension are spiritual. He is the creation of God, and his purpose is to express that goodness and love which are the nature of hi s creator. Man is in reality God's image and likeness. This realization is liberating. We function a lot more satisfactorily as we begin to build on this home truth. It begins to free us from the impression that being honest and good is too hard because it is counter to a sinful nature. The reason, after all, that we struggle against sin--and the reason we can win--is that sin in all its forms is a lie about God's man, as Christ Jesus taught. We are living in a new time, and we are seeing the leavening effects of a great spiritual discovery. We are learning that God's man is not by nature a sinner. He is at home with doing right. Because of this, the current concern with ethics is far more than a brief, valiant flare in enveloping darkness. It is more like a prairie fire that can no longer be contained.

This is a condensed version of an article that originally appeared in the "Thinking it through column of the July 29 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel.

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