Another name to add to the list. The head of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, will stand trial over an allegedly improper state payout to a French businessman. This is in addition to the resignation the day before of Roger Ailes, the long-time boss of Fox News after a number of female employees accused him of sexual harassment. Have our political leaders and people of influence gone mad? In a sense, yes they have.
Missing Dimension of Morality
We have a very real problem that pervades our world – and that problem is the missing dimension of morality. As one political commentator noted, “This is not a constitutional problem. It is a moral crisis.” The lack of morality is a disease of the mind and one definition of madness is “extremely foolish behavior.” Why do so many of society’s influential people do things that leave us shaking our heads in bewilderment and asking the question, “What were they thinking?”
What characterizes “morality” in today’s world is the fact that no one wants to take on the responsibility of deciding and acting out the ethical principles of right and wrong, which has made the modern term “morality” a word without meaning. Morality is a system of principles or rules of conduct to which humans conform. Presently our “wider culture” exemplifies the debasement of rules of conduct with little common agreement as to what rules or principles we should be following.
Is this perhaps because religion in general no longer can be considered the one true source of morality? The continuing revelations of sexual abuse within certain religious institutions contribute to the sad state of affairs. A well-known, but little understood story in the first chapters of the Bible regarding the Garden of Eden and two special trees in that garden sheds light on our current moral crisis.
The Two Trees
The Garden of Eden was a beautiful environment for the development of human kind. All that had been created — the earth and mankind — is described in this passage as “very good.” However, it is recorded that mankind was given a mind and the freedom to use it to determine the way he would live. Man was not a god-like robot. The first man was given the choice to decide for himself how he would live. That choice is symbolized by two special trees in the garden. One was called the tree of life and the other was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Adam and Eve were instructed to eat of one but not the other. Right there is the heart of the matter. One tree represented man in harmony with God and the principles that would ensure mankind’s happy existence — the tree of life. The other tree, of which they were told not to eat, represented mankind taking to himself the prerogative of determining for himself what is right and what is wrong. Adam and Eve made their choice. By the story’s end they are eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and the course of human history is set. The message is that the human race embarked on a life of self-determination. The fact that Adam and Eve were ejected from the garden environment and prevented from approaching the tree of life from that point on is testimony to mankind’s rejection of moral principles which have their root in a sound relationship with God.
The Source of True Morality
If there had been any doubt that some of the leading nations of the world are following the course of self-determination, then the turmoil of politics around the globe – with emphasis on the situation in the United Kingdom and the two political conventions recently held in the U.S. — should serve to remove that doubt. No one is turning to that simple and straightforward body of moral principles that has been available to mankind for millennia – God’s word. Instead, like a modern-day Adam, our leadership chooses to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, ignoring the fact that God has set a choice before mankind as to how to live.
Until we are prepared to acknowledge a common source of morality that lies outside of human reason, there will be no improvement in the moral crisis that envelopes our cultures.
By Brian Orchard