Monday, March 11, 2013

Knowing What is Good and What is Evil

I spoke before about the duty and obligation of a moral society to distinguish between good and evil so that we defend what is good and right and extinguish or prevent what is evil and wrong.  However, this does bring up a question: How do we know what is good and what is evil?

The answer is as simple as it is complex.  The answer is that what is good is whatever promotes love, and what is evil is that which destroys love.  That sounds simple, but then it is important to go back and to examine the real meaning of love.  How do we know when something is truly loving versus its counterfeits? How can we be certain a behavior is truly in line with love?

This requires us to define love.  If love is an emotion, and emotions are neither good nor bad, then no act is evil because it's all about how you feel at the moment.  I stand with the Catholic Church's definition of love: to seek the highest possible good of the other even when, and especially when, the feeling isn't there.  If this is my definition of love, then the behaviors that are acceptable and the ones that aren't become so much clearer.  It is unacceptable to engage in a behavior that harms the health or safety of another, even if that behavior might feel good temporarily.  It is unacceptable to engage in a behavior that puts another person's life or health at risk in order to profit from it.

All moral behavior flows from the definition we give to love, since good behavior is loving behavior.  If we do not define love, we cannot define morality. If love changes, morality changes.  Love isn't a subjective thing, being one thing to one person and another thing to another person. It is an objective, unchanging reality that operates outside the boundaries of time and space.  It has definable characteristics that require us to seek it out, know it, learn it, and live it.  When we know what love is, we know what good and evil are.

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