Ethics and Christians


May 17, 2005 by Isaac Hovet

I am going to let everyone in on a conversation that I had today:

An email from a favorite friend:

In the past 2 weeks I’ve come to see how shallow of a man I am. This ethics course is hitting me harder than I expect it too. The fact it is affecting me at all is cause for concern. Aren’t we the ‘ones’ with upstanding morals already? By ‘we’ I mean Christians and in particularly You and I. Leaning a little to far to the side of self-deprecation I say this, You and I sit around talking about “higher” order thinking, but my realization is that in all of my thinking and talking, what am I doing?

I’ll comment here and say I recognize I’m headed down the right path. I just think I’m further down the path than I am.

A couple of heady dudes did a series of studies on ethics, morals and decision making. On dude came up with a model of moral development that has been proven to be consistent world wide in all cultures. The model breaks down into three levels.

Level I : Pre-conventional thinking
Level II: conventional thinking
Level III: Post-conventional thinking.

Pre-conventional thinking states the main reason behind making decisions is to avoid punishment. It’s also seen as the most self-serving of all moral developments. I do what I can to take care of my needs and only avoid doing something if it is going to cause me harm.
Conventional thinking is an attitude to keep social order. Rules and regulations are understood to be good only because they provide a social boundary for everybody to operate under. At this level people do operate out of some concern for other people. However I think in the end it is still self-serving. You don’t disrupt social order because the disruption can bring turmoil into your personal life.

The heady dude’s research showed most people never make it past Level II of moral development. (At about 9 years old people move from I to II.)

The Final level people make decisions based on a strong sense of personal values. The only time a Level III person will operate under a organizational value system is if the personal values and organizational values are a good match.

Sometimes I wonder how much my value system in personally mine. I seem to be swayed a lot by popular opinion.

My Response:

Interesting thinking man.

I get a little convicted listening to you, but also see where we are trying to move to level 3. Maybe we haven’t get there (probably not), but we do ask questions a lot.

I hang my hat on being able to be uncomfortable where others aren’t comfy. We see things within Christianity that aren’t right and we are willing to, in the least talk about it, and at our best do something about it (i.e. the Bridge).

You are right, however. It can’t stop with thinking, it only, perhaps, begins there. You and I must lead by our lives too. Beyondvthe things that come easy (like I drive an economical, anti-consumerism car only by default and not because of intentional, sacrificial choice).

I am challenged to start shopping at Goodwill, not because I want to fit into retro culture, but because I want to stand against the consumerism of today. I also no longer want to where logos or name brand everything (shoes may be difficult). But, am I doing it? A little…Do I recycle? A little….Do I conserve water? No. Do I conserve gas? Not really. Do I love my neighbor as myself? When there is a BBQ or when it is convenient or when i like them anyway. So, yes, we must lead by example…when it hurts…that sucks…

I am with you man.

What do all of you think about these thoughts? I would be curious to know.


5 thoughts on “Ethics and Christians

  1. Bridger,

    Considering the title of my blog, you may not believe me, but too much thinking can truly be hazardous to our health.

    That being said, I will be ‘thinking’ about you.

  2. Bridger says:


    “too much thinking can be truly hazardous to our health.”

    I am not sure that I understand what you are stating. Am I taking myself too seriously, or are you echoing the post (actions speak louder than thoughts or words)?

    Would you mind clarifying?


  3. Hi Bridger,

    First of all, I want to start of to say that I think you have a very good mind!

    From my own experience, which is many years, I have found when I think too much about something, little gets solved. In fact, I tend to get myself into more trouble most of the time.

    I am not a Christan, but a practicing Jew. I find that when I TRUST God, not simply believe, but trust the outcome, that I am in a more peaceful place. When I think too much about how things should be, then I become more ill at ease.

    That being said, I think I may have misunderstood your post, “Ethics and Christians” and my original comments may have not been warranted. Sorry about that.

    Be well,

  4. GodlessMom says:

    Hey Bridger,
    In reading your blog the last few posts, it seems that your mind has really been running the theological gauntlet. As a time-worn traveler of the same gauntlet I totally understand how these questions can mess with the mind!

    Without doing an entire blog entry in your comments section, let me just say that you have hit on a subject that is near and dear to my heart. As an atheist I am frequently confronted by people who feel that without religion you can have no moral compass.

    In my mind there are universal truths when it comes to morality. It doesn’t matter what religion, culture or time we are talking about, some things are just plain wrong. As human beings we need to strive to reach “Level 3” and sometimes we will slip up. However, as you mentioned we are surrounded by people stuck on “Level 2” and if you stress about it too much you will drive yourself crazy.

    I think the best thing we as human beings can do is to pick our battles. Maybe start with recycling and a social cause that you find compelling then move on to other things as you are able. You can’t change the world if you are sitting in a psychiatric ward! 🙂

    You have a very interesting mind.
    Peace to you.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I like your mind and I think you do really well coming up with thought-provoking trains of thought. I think that it’s just to get people thinking and communicating our ideas…which is a good thing! There wouldn’t be as many people who visit your blog every day if there wasn’t some interest, and it didn’t stir up some thought

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