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Love is patient, love is kind

I would never call myself an ethicist since ethics was never my speciality in school. I took a seminar once in grad school though on utilitarianism and we ultimately even studied some deontological theories about ethics. While my understanding of ethics is very limited I thought I would still write a blog post about it. :)

One of the perplexing things I have noticed about people who are attempting to be ethical is that they tend to find some ethical maxims and then follow them slavishly. People pay their bills, go to work, and don't steal as if following these rules is what makes them ethical. I even have a family member who I know who thinks this is what ethics is all about. While I wouldn't claim that this isn't a part of ethics, thinking this is what comprises of the totality of ethics reminds me of Christians who go to church on Sunday and think that this alone makes them a good person. The rest of the week matters too. In the Bible the Pharisees seem to be obsessed with with law and order as if following the law is what makes them a "good person." Being a "good person" involves much more than following rules and as Jesus noted the two most important commandments are in Matthew 22: 36-40 as “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’38 This is the first and greatest commandment.39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

If someone pays their bills on time but still treats the people in their lives with cruelty, dominance, and a lack of compassion, I believe there is something missing severely from their ethical code. If one lacks compassion in their motivation for being ethical, it seems to me that their whole telos for being ethical is so that they can think of themselves as a "good person" instead of acting with charity and beneficence towards others. From my limited understanding of Kant's categorical imperative I could just be restating his concept in deontological moral philosophy with just a more Christian ring to it.

Although what I am saying might be nothing new in the study of ethics, I still believe it is an important message to convey. In 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7 Paul writes, "4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres." So without love and compassion as a motivation for our ethical code, the following of rules is no better than what the Pharisees were doing in Bible. Thank you.


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