Shocking Fact Revealed

True Freedom trumps Moral Relativism

by Deacon Kevin Maloney:

A college professor once began one of his classes in an unusual way. It was a class in ethics and morality. On the first day of class he asked his students what they expected from the class. And he got an earful. One student said “Don’t tell me what you think is right or wrong.” Another said “I have my own ethics and morality.” A third said “I decide for myself what is moral. It’s my choice.” The professor listened patiently and then stopped them and said, “Thank you for your input; now it’s my turn. I’ll start with my grading scale for this class. We will get to know each other through our interactions this semester, and if I like you will get an A. If I don’t like you, you will flunk.” Of course, there were howls of protest. They objected: “You can’t do that, you have to have standards and criteria to judge our work.” “That’s too subjective.” “You can’t just decide for yourself. That’s not fair.” The students were making the professors point for him, that there are standards of right and wrong that all people can recognize.

In our Catholic tradition, we call that the Natural Law, or the Natural Law dictates of conscience. C.S. Lewis, in his great book, Mere Christianity, calls it the Law of Decent Behavior. It refers to all we can know about moral behavior without the aid of Divine Revelation, For example, the Ten Commandments are expressions of Natural Law, knowable by all people, in all places, and at all times. Ethics and morality are not whatever we want them to be. We do violence to ourselves and to society when we try to define for ourselves what is good and what is true, apart from the Natural Law that God has instilled in the human heart.


Moral Relativism

That type of thinking is called moral relativism, and we saw a striking example of this in the 1992 Supreme Court decision in the case of Planned Parenthood vs. Casey. One Supreme Court justice, in favor of abortion rights, wrote this: “At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe and of the meaning of human life.” In other words, “move over God, you’re in my seat.” From what is supposed to be the very seat of legal wisdom in our country, we hear that we can make it up as we go along in matters of morality, what is right and wrong. Unfortunately our nation is reaping the fruit of that type of thinking – we see in our society that what is objectively evil is called good, and even enshrined into law. And what is good, such as forms of public Christian expression, is called evil, and some forms of Christian expression today may get you charged with a hate crime.


Faith and Morals Never Change

In fact, in matters of faith and morals, truth and goodness are objective in character. They never change. While people’s perception of morality changes, that which is good and true has never and will never change. There are, in fact, objective moral absolutes. Some people think morality changes with the times, but that is not true because the source of truth and goodness is God Himself, who is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.

We face moral decisions every day, and to make those decisions in accord with God’s will we need a moral compass, so we don’t have to grasp in the darkness when we make those decisions. So God, as a good Father, gives us law.

Remember Moses?  What does he reveals to the Israelites the before giving them the Ten Commandments Deuteronomy Chapter 4?  He tells them their fidelity to God’s law will be a witness to all nations. Jesus, explains why over-emphasis on external ritual, such as washing hands before eating, distorts God’s plan, and that evil and sin comes from within a person, not from outside. But, in fact, we live in a fallen world with a fallen nature, and God creates us free to choose good or evil. But we often misunderstand what it means to be authentically free as a human person.


Freedom for What?

“Freedom for what?” John Paul II

St. Pope John Paul II visited the United States in the 1980’s and was met at the airport by President Ronald Reagan. President Reagan greeted him with the phrase, “Welcome to the land of the free.” The Pope responded, “Yes, but freedom for what?” Our Holy Father was making the point that freedom means not only freedom from something (tyranny, oppression, etc.), but freedom for something. In other words, freedom is an achievement, not only a choice. For example, I can’t play the piano, and while I may say I am free to play the piano, sit down and hit the keys, I don’t have the ability. So I am not truly free to play the piano. So freedom is from something we don’t want to do, but also freedom for something we want to do. And that freedom is always for the good, the true and the beautiful, the three ideals of the human spirit. However, our culture tells us freedom is doing whatever we want to do. That, in fact, is called license, and is a type of slavery that is very different from true freedom. True freedom is having the ability to do what you ought to do. So there are limits on freedom. I am free to throw my garbage away, but I am not free to throw it on my neighbor’s lawn. That would be an abuse of freedom. I am free to surf the internet, but I am not free to surf pornography sites. In that case, I would not be free but in slavery to sin. God doesn’t give us limits to restrict us, but to truly set us free.


Why Follow Law’s and Precepts?

We often hear that our Church is about following rules; “You Catholics have to do this and can’t do that.” So a question would be, why follow the commandments, and God’s laws, and the precepts of the Church? Very simply, because they lead to happiness and joy, since they allow us to live in accord with how we were created by God. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, before he became Pope Benedict 16th, summarized well how we should think of God’s law; he said: It is a mistake about the nature of faith to see the Church as the arbiter of rules and laws but rather as the pathway to salvation.

Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen once said Jesus spent 30 years obeying, 3 years teaching, and 3 hours redeeming. From those three’s came our Holy Mother, the Church. The purpose of the Church, our one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church, is not just to comfort individuals, to celebrate events, or to give us laws to follow. The purpose of the Church is to tell the world, with one united voice through, with, and in our savior Jesus Christ, that there is something better and another way of life is possible that brings us joy and fulfillment. We pray today that we use our freedom to follow God’s law in achieving what is good, true and beautiful and, in the end, our eternal salvation.

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2 comments to Shocking Fact Revealed



  • tg

    I like that picture of Pope John Paul II and Reagan. Those were true leaders of a church and a country. Unlike the picture of the current Prez and Pope. Those made sick to look at. Jesus never spoke to Herrod and when he spoke to Pilate, it was to tell him the Truth. PF missed a great opportunity to tell PO the truth.

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