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March 1993

1993, Articles, Raiati

The Ethical Rule / 28.03.93

Many people believe that the Ten Commandments include all Christian ethics. However, the truth is that they are just an example, with numerous sins not being mentioned. Furthermore, the second commandment “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy” is a feature of the Jewish liturgy that we no more have to respect, for the Lord has set us free from the Sabbath through His resurrection. And the fact that we abstain from work on Sundays is not a divine commandment, but rather an ecclesiastic arrangement to hold the Mass. Even in the Old Testament, the most comprehensive commandment is: “Love the Lord your God as yourself” (Leviticus 19: 18). This commandment was also adopted by the Christ, when He said “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment”. Then He added: “And the second is like it: you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mathew 22: 37-40). Having said this, He summarized and claimed: “On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets”. According to the teachings of Jesus, ethics are equal to love.

But, what is the link between this new commandment and the Ten Commandments? Paul explained this association when he declared: “He who loves another has fulfilled the Law. For the commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery’, ‘You shall not murder’, ‘You shall not steal’, ‘You shall not covet’, and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’. Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the Law” (Romans 13: 8-10).

One might begin to abide by the laws, but, when he knows Jesus, he will discover that our capability to fulfill the commandments is derived from the grace of God. In order not to turn the commandments into a sword that threatens humans, they should be emanating from the heart illuminated by the light of the Christ. This is the New Testament Jeremiah had spoken about when he said: “I will cause them to dwell safely. They shall be My people, and I will be their God; then I will give them one heart… And I will make an everlasting covenant with them; that I will not turn away from doing them good.” (32: 37-40). Thus, with the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, and with the safety we know God has delivered to us, we shall be capable of fulfilling every word He said. If the Word has dwelled in us, it will generate good work.

We have become in the Kingdom of the Christ, in His sovereignty upon us. When we realize His love to us, we do what satisfies him; and this shall bring us joy. With the appearance of the Kingdom of Christ, Jesus gave us the compiled Law of the Kingdom in the Gospel of Mathew, in the so-called Sermon on the Mount, mentioned in chapters 5, 6 and 7, and their equivalents in the Gospel of Luke.

The first blessing is: “Blessed are the poor in spirit”. Jesus did not give a law that has no roots in the Old Testament. He came to fulfill the latter. Jesus accomplishes the prophecy and leads it to its utmost. He makes it possible thanks to the love He rendered. Jesus fulfills the ancient Law and links it to love. The commandment was above humans, but now it comes from the individual who bestowed himself to the Lord.

Jesus reached the roots. “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder’…. But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother shall be in danger of the judgment….You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery’. But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” It is not matter of abstaining from an external sin, but rather purifying our hearts so that we have no tendency for the bad.

Hence, Christian ethics consist of guiding our souls so that we love the Lord, and keeping an eye on them, to cause them to abstain from sins and love righteousness. Then, commandments will spontaneously stem from the purified heart.

Translated by Amani Haddad

Original Text: “القاعدة الأخلاقية” – 28.03.93

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1993, Articles, Raiati

Christian Ethics/ 21 Mars 1993 /N*12

Some readers have asked us to write some articles about ethics; and now we are responding to this demand by considering the divine commandments as being addressed to every human being at any time; then by attempting to discuss some of the contemporary issues that need to be approached with a new way of thinking. Nevertheless, the latter has to be derived from the unalterable divine word.  Some of these issues have to do with ethics in the worlds of business and politics, while others are related to family life, such as abortion and artificial insemination. These topics cannot be avoided, for they are present in people’s minds and experiences.

Although it is easy to say: “you shall not steal”, it is much more difficult to accuse a poor and deprived person who is “stealing” some food for his starving children. Thus, there is an explanation for the commandment. And even though abortion is evidently forbidden by virtue of the divine word and ancient laws, what can we say to a Serbian  orthodox girl who got pregnant after being raped by an enemy soldier, and who declared to the French TV channel “This fetus is not my son, he is a monster. If I did not get rid of him, I will kill myself.” Apparently, it is sometimes difficult to have a clear ethical standpoint.

We might think that there are some common ethical principles in human conscience. “For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness”. (Romans 2: 14-15) Yet, human conscience can be degraded because of bad teachings, and people might then authorize what God has already forbidden. This does not happen only among pagans who did not know the Christ. Even some of us have done so many trespasses that they became accustomed thereto, and they would find excuses to keep their sins and benefit from them.

People do not always conform to the dictates of conscience. For instance, some of them accept the concept of revenge and consider it as a sign of audaciousness. Some of them accept the crime of honor, and they would kill their wives or sisters mercilessly.  And more commonly, some people monopolize certain goods, and set the prices they want, without even thinking that they are eating people alive. Others might sell drossy goods, without any blame from their conscience. Conscience in itself is not sufficient. It can be ruined by the desire of profit, the desire of the body, or the desire of glory. The moral sense in the conscience can sometimes be weakened; hence we need the divine grace to enter it again and arouse it.

The mind cannot, on its own, lead us to goodness, for it is corrupted by lust. Jesus is the savior of our minds. God spoke to us in the past through His prophets, not in order to invent ethics, but to remind us of the good qualities He had placed in us when He created us in His own image. Ethics have been present in us since the beginning, yet we ruined the image of God in us, and we overlooked our original beauty. God does not impose what He likes arbitrarily, nor does He forbid murder or theft just because He has the desire to do so. God is not a dictatorial governor who acts and imposes what He likes. He shows us what we need so that we can live in spiritual beauty. He knows that goodness leads us to joy and that we do not often want it for ourselves. As there is a physical suicide, there exists another spiritual type of suicide. People become slaves of lust and know they are dying physically, and they also tell lies, cheat and loath, and, even though they know they are degrading their personality, they continue to enjoy their sins. They would do so many trespasses that they would deny the commandment and refuse their own wellbeing. When God realized that sins of humans are leading them to death, He revealed himself and demonstrated His love. He also showed the ethical rules that would purify humans, making them more able to know Him and live as His sons.

Unmistakably, knowing the commandment is not enough to fulfill it. The misery of humans is that they know but do not obey, unless with the help of a divine momentum. Nevertheless, without these commandments, people cannot go across the correct path. Revealing the divine commandment is the beginning of the journey. Should we want to continue the road till the end, we need to love the Lord.

Translated by Amani Haddad

Original Text: “الأخلاق المسيحية” – 21.03.93

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