everyday ethics

Today I walked past a man sitting on a bench on the sidewalk. He was –no doubt– simply taking a work break. He was smoking. This happens all the time… Sure, some people probably don’t appreciate the small of cigarette smoke as they walk by, but it’s still no big deal, right?

Then, minutes later, in the Turkish shop I was getting lunch at, a guy lined up behind me. I thought I recognised him. He was wearing sunglasses, so I wasn’t sure. I thought he might have been the new pastor at the Presbyterian church my wife and I were married at (after all, the church was a short walk away). A look at his T-shirt confirmed that it wasn’t… Continue reading “everyday ethics”

ethical violence?

A question raised by Damian (‘Would you kill if God told you to?’) under a post at Frank’s blog recently led to various comments about God, killing and ethics.

The issue is massive, and I won’t try to summarise it here, but I wanted to share an interesting historical character that I think is fully relevant to the topic. Continue reading “ethical violence?”

the neurology of self-control

brain mapOf course, I’m not a neurologist. Heck, I haven’t even spent any considerable amount of time browsing Wikipedia entries on neurology…

I have been thinking, however, about life, our brains, choices and the like…

Without delving into how our brains might have developed or evolved into the state they are, I think it’s just fascinating how they work now. As we live life – as we see, hear, things, say things, do things, have things happen to us, touch things, are touched by things, etc., etc. – a correlating ‘network’ of associations, memories, etc. is continually being ‘built’ somehow, somewhere under our hair…

I’ve been thinking about this ‘networking’ process as it relates to the choices we make in life, and what we control and we can’t… Continue reading “the neurology of self-control”

true love: stranger & friend

A very recent post had a moral bent, and the ensuing comment-discussion quickly observed that morals are based on values and eventually focussed on the question of what (if anything) underlies our values. In other words, are values grounded ‘on’ anything? Or, are they as free and changing as the various expressions of human cognition/thought? In this post, I want to try to explore this question further. Just one thing before I begin: Continue reading “true love: stranger & friend”

sexual identity remixed

I’m well aware of this topics’ controversial nature. In fact, that’s part of the reason I’ve been wanting to write about this for a while. What I do not want to do is quote verses or provide what I think ‘the Bible says’ about this issue. Of course, I do have a view on that, but that specific pathway into this topic has been almost ruined for all kinds of reasons, not least simplistic applications of various texts. As with any other discussion, the use of words is key. At one extreme, the sheer number of terms being created (‘pangender’, ‘omnisexuality’ and ‘heteronormativity’ to name but a few) does not seem to help fruitful discussion, but at the other extreme, many can fail to appreciate the complexity of the issues being discussed. Because of this complexity, it would be easy to spend huge amounts of time trying to address everything that has ever been said about human sexuality. But, of course, that’s the job of a lengthy dissertation or something. My hope is to fruitfully contribute to the conversation. Quite simply, I want to raise two concerns I have relating to human sexuality.

Continue reading “sexual identity remixed”

eating from the wrong tree

Though many Christians would like to try – and sometimes do try, I don’t think we will ever be able to solve all the world’s morality problems. I’m thinking we might as well get used to it.

But in spite of this, we just love to try and ‘battle’ against the world’s morality. Now, I’m not advocating moral relativism – where right and wrong are determined by what you had for breakfast. I most certainly believe in true good and true evil. What I am suggesting, however, is that rather than it being our job to sort this out, we are to trust God to do so. When we try to sort out the good/evil thing, we are trying to so something that only God can do.

This mistake is actually at the heart of the Garden of Eden story. Adam and Eve were given absolute freedom in the garden to eat from any tree they liked, and were forbidden to eat from just one tree. Genesis 2:16-17, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it, you shall surely die.” Good and evil were held secure by God – no assistance or meddling needed.

Well, tending the garden and eating from any of the other trees just wasn’t enough. They apparently wanted to help God with good and evil as well. The key verse is Genesis 3:6, “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and was a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of it’s fruit and ate.” The results of this are in Gen. 3:22, “…the Lord God said, ‘Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil…’ ”

All talk of apples and snakes aside, let’s see what the story is getting at – she ate from the tree that she thought would make her wise! All of the other trees in the garden were ‘good for food’ and ‘pleasing to the eye’ (Gen. 2:9), but this tree had more. This isn’t simply about eating an apple when you were meant to stick to oranges and figs! Neither is it talking about Eve simply wanting more wisdom to make better life choices. This is much more serious. This is the inversion of the creator/creation relationship! This is about Adam and Eve trying to take God’s place!

I wonder if we eat from the same ‘tree’ today. Do we try to tackle morality (good/evil) in our own hands? Who are we to do that!? Please don’t hear me saying that morality doesn’t matter. It matters so much that it takes God to sort it out! Yes, the ‘garden’ needs tending (Gen. 2:15), but let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that God needs our help sorting out good/evil. The more we focus on sorting out the world’s morality problems, the more we show we don’t trust God to do it.

May we eat freely from all of the life God has given us.