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Moral Decisions: sin and virtues

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James slaughter

on 18 October 2018

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Transcript of Moral Decisions: sin and virtues

Moral Decisions:
Bringing Our Dark Side into the Light

When people act contrary to their conscience and purposely choose to do wrong
Offense against reason and truth:
Failing to love God and others
Offense against God:
Turns our hearts away from God
Sin results in breaking relationships
Causes alienation and separation
Original Sin @ Inclination
Scene iii. 85-87
Scriptural images of sin:
Missing the mark
Hardness of heart
Missing the Mark:
Originally “to sin” meant to miss the mark similar to an arrow missing a target
Failing to love is missing the mark (God) in our lives
Acting out of motives other than love
Hardness of Heart:
Image describing how we close ourselves off to others with our sins
Original Sin:
traces back humanity’s ability and desire to sin (choose not God) back to Adam and Eve
the lack in humans of the original holiness and justice that the first humans had, resulting in…
inherited tendency within all humans to be attracted to evil and to choose sin over virtuous living

We are inclined to choose sins in our lives
Temptations, etc.
Venial sin:
An action that turns us away from God in small degrees
Mortal sin:
An action so destructive that it mortally wounds our relationship with God; complete rejection of God

Sin of Omission:
Not doing an action that is called for
Sin of Commission:
Purposely doing an action that is harmful to oneself or another

Occasions of Sin:
Situations in which a person is likely to sin
Weakens our relationship with God
“Lesser” sins:
Not as serious as Mortal Sins
Everyday sins:
Various actions done throughout the day that we know
are wrong, but do not result in the same level of seriousness as Mortal Sins

Forgiven through the Eucharist
Complete rejection of God

Three Conditions:
Mortal sin is sin whose object is grave matter and which also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent
Grave Matter:
-Serious damage
Full Knowledge:
-Knowing that the act is wrong
Deliberate Consent:
Freely choosing the action

Forgiven through the Sacrament of Reconciliation
We are made good
We are made to be in relationship with others
We are made free
Ex nihilo
” from nothing
God created the world
Good – because it is of God
Not perfect – because it is not God

Human Beings:
Dignity and worth from God

Justice implications:
All creation is good because it is from God
All races, ethnicities, and groups of people
Respect for other aspects of creation

Environment, animals, etc.
Opportunity to share in God’s goodness

IMAGE ofGOD: "Imago Dei
The ability to choose what to do
allows us to sin at times
greater good of freedom
Our decision making capacity as it affects ourselves and others

Positive; promotes human welfare

Negative; harmful and destructive

Neutral; neither harms nor helps

No sense of right or wrong; insensitive to moral effects of actions

Gathering Information:
Making a decision requires understanding of the situation

Moral Decision Making:
The steps taken to make decisions having a moral impact on one’s life, based on
NORMS (formal, material and synthetic)

Three important considerations
fontes moralitatis
) The person making the decision
The object chosen
)The end in view or the intention
)The circumstances of the action

Making moral decisions requires a careful analysis of a situation and the impact they have
Attempt to make objective decisions based on right and wrong

Virtue ethics
Liberation Ethics

dealing with the circumstantia

The Principle of the Double Effect

This principle concerns an act from which emerge two effects - one good and one bad. Even if the results can be foreseen, there are four conditions which must be verified before the act can proceed.

The act in itself may be good or indifferent. It can never be an already intrinsically evil act.
The good effect must arise immediately from the act and not through the evil result obtained.
The intention of the agent must be directed only towards the good effect - the evil effect is not desired for itself; it is only tolerated.
There must be a relation of proportion between the good and bad effects. There is need for a common criteria. If the evil is greater than the good then the act is not acceptable.

Co-Operation in Evil

A person can participate in the evil done by someone else. (e.g. a nurse who participates in an illicit operation). we can distinguish:

Immoral action of a principal agent - immoral.
Co-operation of another person. This can be:

- an essential, immoral part is carried out by someone: formal co-operation.
- Proportioned motive: this excludes intention and act of the immoral agent.

Types of co-operation. Here we can ask several questions:

Is it remote or proximate?
What is its frequency?
Is it necessary or contingent?
Are there alternatives?

The inclinations toward goodness or evil that are part of the fabric of a person’s being

Patterns of behavior that are harmful to one’s self or others
Character strengths manifested on a consistent basis in decision making
Habits of the heart that need to be cultivated and developed

2 Main Types of Virtues:

Virtues: Habits of the Heart

4 Cardinal Virtues:

Giving to each person what they deserve, what is due to them.
Courage, the strength of character to face the daily challenges.

Moderation, keeping everything in balance. Allows YOU to be in control of your life not your desires or drives.

Practical judgment. The conductor of our moral symphony. It determines what the right thing is to do at the present moment.

Foundation of Christian moral activity; given to us by God; inner principles which must be strengthened

Faith – Hope – Charity (Love)

Theological Virtues
Belief in God; the virtue of seeking to know and to do God’s will
Requires openness and trust
Trying to discover what is God’s will and then acting accordingly
We must keep the faith and live it
Profess and bear witness to it

Faith – Seeking to Do God’s Will

Dietrich Bonhoeffer:
Christian moral theologian
Felt that faith in Jesus should lead Christians to resist actively any expression of inhumanity

Cheap grace:
Believing “God loves me no matter what; therefore I can do whatever I want

Costly grace:
A relationship with God that involves a challenge and a response on our part

God’s love commits us to good choices
Choosing good requires courage
Risks including persecution

Cheap vs. Costly

Social Sin:
Recognition of the social dimension of sin, both in its causes and its effects

Sinful Social Structures:
Ways societies are structured resulting in unjust distribution of power, benefits, and privileges

Church as “counter cultural”:
At times, Church teaching opposes what society says is acceptable must individually follow our well-formed consciences

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