Personal Moral Beliefs Vs. Religious Expectations

I have no idea if that’s a good descriptive title or not, so please best with me. :smiley: I’m also not sure if this would be better suited for GD, but I figured more people might participate here. Mods, if I screwed up, I apologize.

In another thread (the long ass Hobby Lobby one in the Pit, I was talking to Bricker about whether or not it was hypocritical of Hobby Lobby to take their stance on birth control, all the whole profiting off of a pension plan that invests in, you guessed, birth control. His response to me detailed, at least for Catholics, what their rational on the subject was. Here’s the particular post, if anyone is interested:

Anyway, my response to that is thus; despite what your spiritual institutions (holy texts / religious leaders / dogma / church) says, doesn’t it behoove those who purport to follow any spirituality at all to ‘do the right thing’ whether they’re told to or not? I mean, having been on both sides if the fence (and sitting on top :p), I had a personal code of ethics to uphold no matter if my pastor (at the time) told me it was okay at the time. Similarly now, just because the bible (or whatever) is mum on, say, wearing purple shoelaces at night, if I felt that was wrong, I wouldn’t do it. I wouldn’t assume a lesser of two evils stance, nor would I feel that I got a free pass and therefore my actions were of no consequence.

Anyway, I’m definitely not talking about this specific topic I used to illustrate my point. I have no desire for this to devolve into a slag on religion in general, abortion beliefs as a whole, or Bricker individually. He was just kind enough to explain the viewpoint of his church, which I know literally zilch about. And also, I do not, in any way, assert that my ruminations are his. He’s expressed none of what I’m trying to hash out for myself. So, I hope we can keep this civil. Thanks!

[PS. I’m in the process of hitting multiple doctor appointments all over town today, so will only be checking in sporadically. I promise, I haven’t abandoned my thread, it just may take a bit to respond.]

I just read Bricker to be saying that at some point, the connection between act and consequence becomes too attenuated to constitute a sin. We can argue abut where to draw that line, but as a concept I don’t see anything controversial or uniquely religious about that stance.

Think of it this way: How confident are you (the generic you, not specifically the OP) that you are morally on board with every action by every company in your 401(k)? How about every action by every employee of every company? Every family member of every employee of every company? Does there come a point where personal morality, whether arising from religion or elsewhere, does not demand a more detailed inquiry?

No, I understand that and, like I said, was really trying to stray from that conversation and only use it as a springboard to the larger issue. So, do you think that despite what you’re taught or believe religiously, that the onus is on the individual to take to task anything you personally find objection all rather than stick with an ‘official’ stance? I hope that’s clearer. :slight_smile:

I think it’s a combination of both. The individual should be guided by his conscience, but his conscience should be one that is informed by the guidance of moral authority.

I’m not sure I understand the OP. Are you suggesting that there’s a hypothetical pension recipient who feels that it’s wrong for their pension to be invested in companies that they’re morally opposed to, but begrudgingly allows it because, and only because, the official ruling of their church is that it’s OK?

Certainly you can go “farther” than the church’s guidelines would require/instruct if it’s something you feel strongly about. To use a frivolous example, the Church doesn’t say I can’t buy something a little extravagant for myself (assuming I am doing what I can for those in need) but I may feel a responsibility to donate a matching amount to a good cause. As long as what your “personal code of ethics” guides you to do isn’t in opposition to the church, cool.

Moral authority? Which one? How does one choose? I prefer to reason these things out for myself. Purveyors of moral authority have not been so universally admirable, in my view, that their teachings merit particular respect.

I hope this isn’t too far afield from the OP as to seem a hijack. The OP seems to presuppose that religious teachings are always in the picture. If that is the premise of this thread, I will butt out.

Following what your church says rather than what you believe is moral is no better than following the law rather than what you believe is moral. Heck, it’s worse, because, even if your church compels you to comply, you can always go to another one.
I agree with Bricker that you should understand what your church says and why they say it, but you’re free to part ways if God leads you differently. I know there are some churches where you are supposed to defer to your religious authority, but I don’t like those churches. They lack the ability to update their beliefs based on new information (including new biblical scholarship). And they tend to be the most intolerant of other beliefs.

I know my church has a historical problem with dancing, even though it’s specifically allowed in the Bible. Yet a prohibition is still on the membership form as something you have to agree to. (I crossed it out when I joined, so I wouldn’t be lying.) I don’t agree with them on homosexuality or abortion, but fortunately those aren’t on the membership form.

Can an atheist have exactly the same moral stance as Catholic? ( pick one )

As a religious person, can I sin if I think my choice is more morally correct than my religion does? If I can’t make myself do that, am I in the right to force my morality on others?

Some things are pretty universal, murder, stealing, etc… Not 100% by all people. So, when someone does it, which is more correct, punish because it is morally wrong for 98% of people of the land or punish because it is 100% illegal by agreed law of the land? Is there a difference.

At the present time, blind adherence to law, religion, custom, to popular opinion is not generally approved of.

But at different times it was in many places, upon punishment of death. (note: at all times you have a choice, some chose to die for a belief or a cause that is / was not popular at the time. )

I was born & bread & educated as a Catholic with 2 uncles on my maternal side who were very much a part of our lives. The priest at my grade school was way ahead of his time in regards the church teaching. My parents did not blindly believe and we were taught the same.

The point, in this day & time, IMO, blind following of anything ( well, physics & stuff not with standing, I will always believe in the effects of gravity, etc. ) is not a really rational stance. But many millions of others disagree & blindly follow a faith base or person base or other base.

Me, I always have a choice.

Yes. But I read the OP as going farther than what your church would require, not going against it. The church only requires that you not use or supply birth control; you take it farther and make sure you are not indirectly supporting birth control. Nothing wrong with that. Deciding the church is wrong on an issue and pursuing something contrary to it, trouble.

Again, I don’t think this is a uniquely religious issue. Non-religious people can find themselves in a situation of having to decide whether to defer to someone else’s judgment, in the interest of some larger goal: Deferring to your spouse’s (or ex-spouse’s) parenting choices. Working for a company or an agency that generally does good things but pursues some disagreeable projects. Campaigning for a candidate with some questionable views in order to help one’s party achieve a majority. As a legislator, voting the way your party wants on something you disagree with.

Also, I think the OP is making perhaps too much of a distinction between “doing the right thing” and “doing what God wants.” To the theist, “what God wants” is inextricably inseparable from “the right thing.” To analogize to the marriage example above, nobody’s perfect, and there will be times when spouse A and spouse B disagree about how to raise their kid. In a good marriage, stepping back and trusting one’s spouse, in the interest of doing what’s best for the family, should not be a chore but rather a gesture of love. But if spouse A is constantly in conflict with spouse B that is difficult to reconcile, that may be a sign that they are not in a good marriage. Similarly, there will naturally be times when any religious person is going to be at odds with the teachings of his or church, but if keeps happening all the time, if it’s consistently too hard to see “what God wants” as “the right thing,” that may be a sign that he or she is not in the right church home.