Prompt: Where do your morals come from — your family? Your faith? Your philosophical worldview? How do you deal with those who don’t share them, or derive them from a different source?
My morals were instilled in me by my mother. She taught me by word and example right from wrong and the reasons for doing and saying the right things. She did not simply tell me by words but by example, and the reasons for doing so. She told me the repercussions of not living a moral life, and the impact it would have not only on me but on others as well. My Mother was also a Christian so that of course played a part in the morality of our lives.
The direction of how to live our lives was given by Jesus himself in the New Testament, which was the new commandment summarizing the Ten Commandments in the old testament, “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’c 38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’d 40All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
So there is the crux of how I was taught… ‘Love God and my neighbor (being anyone) as I love myself.’ If I truly love someone as I do myself then I’m going to treat them as I would want to be. Therefore it follows that anything I do or say I need to ask myself if I were in their place, how would I feel?
The second part of this prompt regarding how I relate to others whose morals come from a different source than mine is for me pretty straightforward. If I know that a person is not open to the Christian faith that I have, and this becomes evident when you get to know someone, then again I fall back on the example that Jesus himself showed us. He was criticized by even his followers when he would ‘eat and drink’ with those who were the ‘outcasts’ of society; those people considered as ones to be ignored or avoided because they did not share their beliefs.
I can and do have close friends who are not Christian and in these relationships we have a clear understanding of each others’ beliefs and are able to accept this and speak about life and the difficulties and challenges without verbally trying to ‘make’ each other switch over to our belief. For some Christians this is not really the way to go because they believe we should always share the Gospel. If this is what they believe they are called to do, then they definitely should do so. My thinking is (for me) that we should ‘live’ the Gospel and in that way we ‘are’ sharing it in a different way. If I was ever asked about why I believe as I do, of course I would speak and give times and experiences that have been meaningful in my life in this regard. But my friends and I accept and acknowledge our similarities and do not insist on compliance to our way of living.
It would be difficult to maintain these friendships if we mocked or somehow demeaned what the other person thought in our faith or belief, but this does not happen between true friends.
So in summary, my Mother and my faith are the places I derive my ‘morality’ from.