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