The Trouble With Right and Wrong

I get up out of bed every day wanting to glorify God in everything I say and do.

Most days I fall short.

“Can a behavior be ethical but illegal at the same time?” my professor asked.

Interesting question, I thought. Ethics seem to be a tricky thing depending on what folks base their idea of right and wrong on. Ethics is simply a matter of right and wrong. The trouble is determining how to decide what right and wrong is and according to who.

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Legal and ethical behavior are closely related, like brother and sister. They continually cross paths, but do not always point us in the same direction. I am not sure how many behaviors are ethical but illegal. On the other hand,  I can think of several behaviors once considered unethical that are legal in today’s world.

The law condones some behavior, making it acceptable under the law, even though some people may consider it unethical. Conversely, something might be ethical but illegal. Same-sex marriage, abortion, legalization of marijuana, and euthanasia are current topics that come to mind when I think about what is legal versus what is ethical. I suppose that is where the standard we use to decide right from wrong comes into play.RBantau 2017

There was a time in our nation when it was perfectly legal to own a slave. Even so, that did not make it right or ethical.

In most States, marijuana is still illegal. However, there are studies that have shown that marijuana may be better in treating cancer than chemotherapy. If I had a loved one with cancer would it not be ethical for a doctor to treat them with marijuana if that is what helped them? It is certainly illegal.

Let’s take it a step further. Their cancer is terminal. Nothing will save their life. The only option left is easing their suffering. Would it be ethical for them to end their life if that is what they decided they wanted to do? Would it be ethical for someone to help them? It is illegal.

I think it is easy for us to answer these questions from afar; but we really do not know how we will respond until we face crossing that bridge.

We need a solid foundation for figuring out what is right and wrong. Our different government agencies dictate what is legal versus what is not.

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For me, personally, my faith provides me with a foundation of what God considers right or wrong. I believe God is the Creator and ultimate authority of the Universe. Therefore, it only makes sense that I rely on His standard for right and wrong (ethical behavior).

This may not work for you. You may rely on something else. Shrug. All I can tell you is God has worked faithfully for me even when I have not been faithful to Him.

I am grateful that whether I do right or if I do wrong God remains faithful in His grace and mercy toward me. He is faithful to love me even though I don’t always get it right.

Papa Hemingway, Me, and The Old Man and the Sea

The past week I have been catching up with my old friend Ernest “Papa” Hemingway through reading his classic “The Old Man and the Sea”. Written in 1951 and first published in 1952, it is his final major work released during Hemingway’s lifetime. In this short novel, Papa Hemingway tells the story of an aging Cuban fisherman named Santiago who, down on his luck, finds himself entangled in an unyielding, excruciating battle with a massive marlin in the Gulf Stream, a current stretching from the Gulf of Mexico all the way up the East Coast and beyond. The elderly fisherman demonstrates a great deal of tenacity to supplement the knowledge and skills he has acquired over the course of his lifetime on the Sea.

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I first read Hemingway ages ago as a youth enthralled by the places and events relayed through his economical, understated prose. It was easy to lose myself in the pages of  “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and “The Sun Also Rises”, and stories like “The Snows of Kilimanjaro”. Along with Steinbeck and Twain,  Ernest Hemingway stoked my desires to pursue becoming a writer. It continues to be a dream that I chase and to date has yielded a stack of folders and notebooks filled with stories, plays, and unresolved ambition. Naturally, there have been detours along the way. But like all of us, I press on. 

All anyone is required to do to become a writer is write. But rest assured, writing is hard work. Putting a few words on paper is the simple part. Weaving a story that keeps readers tuned in and turning pages demands skill and a good combination of head and heart knowledge. Being a writer calls for unwavering persistence and the willingness to type on through the hills and valleys life brings our way. 

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The story of “The Old Man and the Sea” is one of courage and dogged determination as well as a tale about an elderly man coming to terms with his life drawing to an end. Perhaps that is the story’s appeal. Our lives call us to muster courage and remain persistent, all the while marching toward our date with death. For me, I think I always appreciated Hemingway writing about matters of the soul. Much of Papa’s writing is rife with spiritual overtones. “The Old Man and the Sea” is no exception. Santiago—“the Old Man”—is a character fighting an epic battle with a  beast of Biblical proportions. He will either overcome it or it will overtake him. Who wins in the end? You’ll have to read the book yourself to find out. 

As Scripture teaches us, in our difficulties we come to realize our sufferings produce perseverance and that perseverance builds character, and character yields hope (Romans 5:3-4, NIV).

To God be the Glory~”TDG”

P.S. Praying for all our family, friends and the folks down South living along the Texas Coast as you weather the onslaught of Harvey. May the Lord keep you and bless you one and all.

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Romans 5:3-4 (NIV):

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.

 

Photo(s):

Original photos by Rainer Bantau Photography ©2017 

Other Photos courtesy of Pixabay 

All Photos edited with Pixlr.