1. Morality begins when I realize that I am not the only person in this world. Morality also emerges from situations in which the dignity of the person is shaken; such situations are “intolerable”.
2. The Decalogue, during the Sinai-Covenant event, was given so that the people will not live with slavery when they enter Canaan. The Laws given by God were not designed to cut away human freedom. They were meant to give shape to that freedom. Applied to morality, then, we say that morality is more about a healthy exercise of freedom because we understand why we have such Laws.
3. The Decalogue can be “chopped” up into three parts. There is the part dealing with our relationships with God and there is the part dealing with our relationships with one another. “Sandwiched” in between is the part on the “Sabbath” telling us to be “like God”.
4. The Laws dealing with our relationship with God tell us to relate with the Lord as LIBERATOR (from slavery). The Laws saying “do not” tell us that we can do anything we want as long as we recognize the limits—respect and reverence for others.
5. There is a relationship between Creation and Covenant (or Redemption). We have been created by God and we have been redeemed in Christ. Our moral frame of thinking is not limited to the redemptive side wherein morality is a “correction”. We were not only corrected by God we were also affirmed by God. Jesus came not just to redeem us but also to affirm our dignity given to us in Creation. We agree that we sin and we need the grace to be free from the hold of sin; we need to be “corrected”. But we also admit that we have always been “ok” in the eyes of God from the very start. This line of thinking helps present morality in a more matured and healthy way.
6. In the New Testament we read about the “Sermon” (Matt: “mount” and Lk: “plain”). There Jesus showed the path of “happiness”. Jesus taught us about our being God’s children and our fraternity to each other. We can see this in the “Our Father” prayer.
7. In the “Sermon” we are taught to live as children of the Father. This included a good sense of justice and love. Part of our moral discernment is to know how to balance justice and love.
8. Christian morality, as the “Sermon” teaches us, is really more “from the heart”. Of course we do not discount external rules and norms; but because we recognize how we are loved by God we respond “from the heart”. We admit that we need external rules and norms but we seek to choose, decide and act “from the heart”. Jesus, in his Sermon, taught this himself.
9. In the perspective of St. Paul we act in faith rather than in mere obedience to the Law. St. Paul did not reject the Law but he went against the way people observed the Law. Their observance of the Law gave a wrong image of God. God was someone to please. For St. Paul, however, God graced us—or gifted us—with the presence of Jesus. So we would rather respond in faith.
10. This does not, however, give license to doing anything we want. Faith does not allow us to do “bad things”. In fact, if we are serious with our faith we prefer to “do good”. Our Christian morality is a faith response to the grace of God for us. Christian morality is “in conformity” To Christ.
11. For St. John we are branches to the vine. From the very start the Word already “remained” in us. Thus he (the Word) teaches us to “remain” in him. We take “sap” from the vine. Applied to morality then we decide and act and behave as Jesus. We love as Jesus loved. We love because God loved us first (see 1Jn4/19). What we do is based on what was done by Christ.
12. Do you notice anything COMMON to ALL of the Biblical themes we studied, from the Decalogue to St. John? In history we have been so criticized for us having perverted cultures. Christian morality, so some people say, has damaged people’s pursuit of happiness. But a reading of the Scriptures will show that this perversion is never in the mind of God.
13. The CCC says that “lust is disordered desire for or inordinate enjoyment of sexual pleasure. Sexual pleasure is morally disordered when sought for itself, isolated from its procreative and unitive purposes” (#2351). Do you see how the CCC approaches this Biblically? Do you see the reliance of the CCC on the Biblical themes of Creation and Decalogue and even the ideas in the Sermon of Jesus? Of course, for us modern people, the CCC may look “corny”. With our exposure to modern psychology and anthropology we might find the CCC as “too conservative”. But if we just give the CCC a chance to explain itself to us, we can also see the wisdom behind its discussion on lust. Consult CCC #2331-2359.
14. Many young people might think that they will not do bad things “when someone is watching”. How will you help them improve on this? What can the BIBLICAL morality we studied say about this?
15. Many Christians may have been taught that they have to do “good things” in order to “satisfy” and “please” God. God will love them depending on their “performances” in life. Maybe you know someone who thinks this way. How can you help that person improve on this? What can the BIBLICAL morality we studied say about this?