Friday, June 12, 2009

Is everything morally neutral?

I'm still mulling over the question about whether money is morally neutral and wondered whether there are any exceptions to that rule and what things might be exceptions.

For example there are plenty of things that we could reasonably argue are morally neutral and all depend on how we use them. So we'd argue that the thing itself isn't bad it's just what we do with it that makes it good or bad. Food isn't bad but eating too much of it maybe, having a computer isn't bad but downloading porn, hacking and illegal downloading is.

But does everything fall into that category? How about nuclear weapons? Designed with one purpose in mind, to kill tens of thousands of people in an instant. It only ever has one purpose. Death. Is that morally neutral? Does its use ever depend on the heart attitude of the one using it?

Most of us don't own nuclear weapons so closer to the issue of money might be something a bit more ambiguous like TV. The physical set itself is morally neutral but it only ever truly becomes a TV when it's switched on. What do I mean by that? Well no one buys a TV to leave the screen off, it's purpose is to be switched on and watched and then it isn't morally neutral at all. In fact as a transmitter of programs it is constantly relaying moral values and from a Christian perspective they're rarely Christ honouring. That doesn't mean I shouldn't watch TV but neither should I think it's harmless and passively accept everything that is sent my way.

If you think money is just metal and paper then you've made the same mistake. That's NOT what money is at all, that's just the physical form of money. Money is so much more than a medium of exchange. It's so much more to us than the weekly shop at Tesco. Money is life, power, influence, happiness, pleasure, security. Of course it is humans that have invested those things into coins and paper but that's what money is to us.

An analogy for church goers might be the sacraments of baptism and communion. It's just bread and wine but it's also so much MORE than bread and wine. It's just getting wet as a believer but its so much MORE than that. Money isn't simply metal and paper. It's much, much more and as a result it money requires a health warning. In the next post we'll look at the health warnings given by the Son of God.


Peter on 12 June 2009 at 17:17 said...

I wonder whether it's worth defining the phrase morally neutral more clearly?

Without a more concrete definition of the phrase I could quite happily argue that nothing is morally neutral because we are inclined to use things sinfully because of our nature.

Phil on 13 June 2009 at 00:11 said...

Helpful comment Peter, thanks. I think the argument is precisely that - it's not the thing itself but how we use it. So it's us who bring the values (good/bad) to whatever it is we're using - money, possessions, etc...

I, on the other hand, argue that we've created things with a certain bent, inclined one way or another. In this case I think money is inclined to lead us into problems. Does that make sense?

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