From the Pastor
The grand final of the cricket world cup was amazing. It was a draw and England won on a countback. So it turns out, the umpire misapplied an obscure little known rule. Technically New Zealand should have won.
This is a great metaphor for ethics. Are the rules the rules, to be followed no matter what? Some Christian argue this way. The Bible says …, and if God’s says it wrong – it’s always wrong.
In Matthew 12 the Pharisees accuse the disciples: ““Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath.” [Jesus] answered, “Haven’t you read what David did…? He entered the house of God, and he and his companions ate the consecrated bread – which was not lawful for them to do, but only for the priests.”
King David broke the letter of the law, and nothing happened. He should have died on the spot. Jesus appears to be arguing David broke the letter of the law but not its original intent. Ethics is more complex that just ‘God said so’.
When Jesus said “do to others what you would have them do to you” he gave a different ethical principle. The goal or end purpose of human interaction is to be a blessing to others. We can focus on either the action or the goal. We could also focus on the actor? Is he/she a virtuous person?
One other option is thinking about consequences. So far we have four approaches, or perspectives on ethics. All have a long history. But consequentialism is the only one I ever hear in the public discourse. Debates about what is ethical are not new. They just happen to be very impoverished at the moment.