Morality and Religion MAG

January 2, 2012
By RustinN BRONZE, Guilford, Vermont
RustinN BRONZE, Guilford, Vermont
2 articles 0 photos 0 comments

I have never set fire to an orphanage. I have no wish to. There are many who believe that we must heed the Bible and religion, claiming that it brings us morality and without it, we have none. It is true that up to this point in history morality and religion have been closely linked and are often used interchangeably. Whether we look at Judaism, Christianity, or ancient Greek philosophy, morality has always been a key component. Well, I have never set fire to an orphanage, and I do not follow the Bible. It seems there may be a little morality in me after all. If this is the case, then it is time we re-evaluate the relationship between morality and religion. It is time to treat these two ideas as the separate entities that they are.

There is a belief that we must have religion to have morals. However, many problems arise when we link morality so closely with religion. For starters, it has the unavoidable fate of being subjected to much hypocrisy. For example, the Bible tells us to not kill, (King James Bible, Exodus 20:13), so we must not do it. This rule is accepted by all major religions and the majority of atheists as well. However, the Bible endorses more controversial morals too. For example, there's the oft-cited passage, “If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.” (King James Bible, Leviticus 20:13) Here, the Bible clearly states that homosexuality is wrong. This moral has been adopted as law in many religious households. They are less likely, however, to bring up some other Biblical morals, such as how it is a sin to wear clothing made of two types of materials (King James Bible, Leviticus 19:19), or that anyone working on the Sabbath must be put to death (King James Bible, Exodus 35:2). And then there's the Bible's moral view on rape. Deuteronomy 22:28-29 says, “If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her … he shall pay her father fifty shekels of silver. He must marry the young woman.” (New International Version)

I've found that religious people, on average, do not seem to endorse rape. This is because they do not get their morals exclusively from the Bible. Rather they choose passages that suit their lifestyle. But if the Bible is a moral compass, shouldn't Christians follow it faithfully? Of course, atheists derive their morals from elsewhere: themselves. They create their own belief structure, qualifying what is good and what is evil. If atheists are able to have morals that are separate from the Bible, so can the rest of us.

Another philosophical argument against linking morality and religion is that if our morals come from a divine being, what happens when the divine being changes his mind? If all of a sudden, God said that raping and murdering children was the moral thing to do, would it be?

In the Bible, all of God's morals carry consequences that will occur if they are not followed, typically involving eternal suffering. Those who claim that religion is the only source of morality are indirectly saying that without the fear of going to hell, they would have no motivation to follow the morals. Do these men and women believe the only thing standing between them and theft, murder, and rape is fear of punishment?

Morality is a hard thing to measure. It cannot be quantified. It is the internal fire of quality inside us that leads us to make the right decision, and I do not believe it burns if our decisions are made out of fear. On the surface, two men may look the same if they are doing the same deed. They may both be serving soup at a homeless shelter, but one man is doing it because he empathizes with these men and women and wants to help them. The other is volunteering only because he is afraid that if he does not, he will be punished. The argument could be made that it matters little to those being helped. However, only one is demonstrating true morality. And that does matter. I urge you to begin looking within. The next time you volunteer, ask yourself, Am I doing this because I want to make the world a better place, or because I want to save my soul?

I believe religion and morality are separate. Being strong in one does not make you strong in the other. We must be good for the sake of being good. We must help others for the sake of helping others. If we do not, then our actions mean nothing. I have never set fire to an orphanage – because it is wrong to set fire to an orphanage. I do not need the Bible to tell me that.

The author's comments:

“What is Morality”, Teaching and Promoting Logical & Critical Thinking, 1/1/12

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This article has 12 comments.

on Oct. 29 2015 at 2:53 pm
0 articles 0 photos 3 comments
The truth is, morals are not needed. Morals are based on the beliefs of the individual person. But most people are conscious of their own morals and feel obligated to do them simply because they believe it is the right thing to do. In other words, most people feel guilty when they do something wrong. Lastly, people are more likely to do the right thing in fear of prison rather than a debatable afterlife.

Michael Elam said...
on Feb. 2 2015 at 6:33 am
religion and morality seems to be some working teens that maybe does their work together so far religion and morality seems different but with religion one can be morally upright so with me i say that they are two things that should be always running same but in real sense they are not same for morality comes directly from God Himself

on Jan. 14 2015 at 9:57 am
Iamransomed BRONZE, Easley, South Carolina
1 article 0 photos 2 comments

Favorite Quote:
Now faith, in the sense in which I am here using the word, is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing moods.

C.S Lewis

Without God there is no reason for morals because you are implying there is no God there is no heaven and when you die you die. So why would you need morals if you are just going to die and be forgotton. God gives a reason to live and a reason to do good. What is your reason?

on Feb. 2 2013 at 1:39 pm
Jade.I.Am ELITE, Fishers, Indiana
214 articles 14 photos 1163 comments

Favorite Quote:
“If you're losing your soul and you know it, then you've still got a soul left to lose”
― Charles Bukowski

You're right, you do not have to have religion to have morality, and religion is not the SOURCE of morality. However, I and many others believe that religion is the reason for morality. God gave us morality so that our lives will be filled with love and not "survival of the fittest," or whatever crap applies to animals, but not US. Just my opinion, and I respect yours:)

on Jan. 28 2013 at 2:17 pm
AcrossTheUniverse BRONZE, Hondo, Texas
2 articles 0 photos 61 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Go confidentally in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've always imagined." -Thoreau

Not all religious people help other human beings for fear of punsihment! Certainly not the people I know. As for the Leviticus, you also hacve to take the history into context; for example, the first several chapters are about sacrifices. Do we make those anymore? No; thence they are irrelevant. A piece from the Catechism says "Deep within his conscience man discovers a law which he has not laid upon himself but which he must obey. Its voice, ever calling him to love and to do what is good and to avoid evil, sounds in his heart at the right moment. . . . For man has in his heart a law inscribed by God. . . . His conscience is man's most secret core and his sanctuary. There he is alone with God whose voice echoes in his depths."

on Jan. 28 2013 at 2:15 pm
AcrossTheUniverse BRONZE, Hondo, Texas
2 articles 0 photos 61 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Go confidentally in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've always imagined." -Thoreau

You have a strong voice but your pont gets a lost a few times in the essay. I do agree that morality and religion are different: religion is ahuman institution that contains morality, beliefs on what is good and evil.

on Oct. 2 2012 at 4:18 pm
IsraelLover BRONZE, Modi&#39in, Other
2 articles 0 photos 1 comment

Favorite Quote:
If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem.

I see what you're saying, and it's an excellent article, but consider this: People become moral from the enviornment, the culture they are raised in. HIstorically, before the days of the Bible and around it-- non-religious people weren't as moral as you are today. That begs the question, what has changed in society, that moral=good and immoral=bad, when it has never been that way in ancient history? Have you ever considered that it was the very impact of religion on culture that transformed it into a society of morality and ethics? 

Read it all. said...
on Sep. 26 2012 at 11:50 pm
  There are a lot of flaws in your article and logic. I’ll try my best to cover them.   Morality doesn’t come from the bible or from religion. Morality comes from the right and wrong God has put in us. If we were made to worship the God of purity, innocence, and all knowledge then he knows what is hurtful to us. Just the same we are made in his image. Therefore I suggest that it isn’t from religion but from being modeled after God’s own image.   The bible doesn’t tell us not to kill. The bible says do not murder. It is just easier to tell children that killing is wrong so adults don’t have to explain the difference of murder. This is how the killing of many is justified in the bible. It’s not murder. Wrap your mind around that. There was a reason for the killing. Just like when someone is executed, they aren’t murdered, but killed for a reason.   There are some rules in place in the old testament that do not apply to us now. Some are in place for cleanliness, some are to be set apart from the non-believers.  Just like today we can wear mismatched clothing or eat pork. These things have become acceptable because they do not harm us. Homosexuality does harm the family and is not what God intended at all. This is reiterated in the new testament.   The bible makes it clear that when a woman is raped she is the marry the rapist. Today we believe that to be a terrible thing. However we are looking at that passage through the lens of the 21st century, and not of what was necessary at the time. During those times, a woman who was not a virgin was worthless. God is establishing that the rapist is responsible for the victim and must marry and take care of the woman. This gives her worth and puts responsibility on the guilty.   You see, passages are not the pick and choose type of thing but instead was is actually being held as standard to us today.   I submit to you the idea that atheists do not retrieve their morals from themselves. They get their morals from their fallen nature. This is why some people believe it okay to harm others (just turn on the TV). It’s because fallen people follow their own morality. If we look to what God has intended for us we see what is really best. Who would have thought that the keeper of the universe and most powerful and wise being in existence would know what is best for us?   A divine being cannot change his mind. For God to be divine, he must be perfect. Otherwise he is fallen like us. If perfection changed it’s mind then it would not be perfect. If God changed his mind, that would indicate that he wasn’t right and perfect to begin with.   Following God’s law isn’t from fear of hell, but instead, fear of not being with the most loving thing in existence.   Your view is humanistic. That is not a good thing. You claim it is not about you but in the end it’s man’s happiness that is emphasized. Apart from God man cannot have happiness.    Overall you have some interesting thoughts. However your logic is flawed and does not reach the end conclusion of what is reality. Keep thinking, think on what I’ve given you. Don’t arrive at the short conclusions that fit your desires and will for life. It is clear that you found yourself walking away from God and now you are justifying your actions. Instead look at the sin in your life that he has convicted you of and get rid of it. Come back to Jesus.  

blank said...
on Aug. 16 2012 at 8:22 am
I agree with you that morality should not be linked with religion; however, your quotations from the Bible have errors. I'll likewise quote, but it'll be too long to include here (check it out in the net :)). First is your usage of the Old Testament. The non-Jewish believers were ordered under a new covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Hebrews 5:1-10). God didn't change His mind, for all this was planned from the very beginning (II Thessalonians 2:13-14). Second is the philosophical argument that God changes His mind (Malachi 3:6). Third is your statement regarding fear motivating morals (I John 4:16-19).

bethani said...
on May. 28 2012 at 10:10 pm
I love this article! I'm going to a Christian university and this is a big problem. Because religion is linked to everything, hypocriscy is everywhere. 

Kaykay49 said...
on May. 5 2012 at 7:49 pm
interesting ...

on May. 2 2012 at 4:42 pm
Google First Scandal.


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