A Pastoral Perspective on Ethics

church

Introduction

The purpose of this dialogue involves discussing the concept of Ethics from a moderate-induced pastoral perception.  Ethics per se, as a universal model, involves or requires the decision-making acuities of any rational corporeal agent who intends to initiate or maintain a common, communal, and cultural balance among individuals.  

As such, Ethics may be simplified by considering that the concept Ethics is a universal representative model that includes all the possible values, desires, and intents of human society.  These components serve to form the ingredients that are molded and shaped to create a sort of utilitarian ideal.   

This systematic decision-making process is then drawn to provide the ideal concept for what is to be considered as responsible and acceptable behavior.  Because the ideal model is grounded in the dynamic and continual activity of harmonizing shared or ecumenical values against communal intents and desired objectives, Ethics then becomes both a suitable and most reasonable strategy for any extant structure that would be devoid of a practical methodology that assists in sustaining prolonging and strengthening the human-inhabited community.  Very succinctly stated, Ethics, then, is the monitoring, sustaining, and prolonging of values and life using an acceptable set of agreeable contexts to avoid chaos at all costs. 

Ethics from the Common Pastoral Perspective 

From the common perspective, it is apparent that many individuals inhabit this cosmological domain we call society.  We indeed, have or are sharing the commonness of possessing uniquely distinguishable attributes.  Where this is not the case, then human behavioral characteristics would not be universally recognizable as uniquely separate and the simple adjective, individual and its supplementary cognates, would have no referenced or understandable meanings.   

Despite the broad-spectrum of agreement that reflects the general idea that most individuals exhibit a tendency of being extraordinarily  intelligent and competent to communicate and placate reasonable common practices on their own, unfortunately most of their efforts only result in creating or contributing to an undesired chaos.

 Therefore, one of the most ultimate objectives of the ethereal community or spiritual structures, the church, is to assist in ensuring that the state of balance, growth, and maintenance is continued within this physical society to assure a continued existence and promulgation of the human species.   

Unique differences do exist.  External negative factors  and the disproportionate presence of human values, illuminates the church, per se, as endeavoring to moderate the corpus of divergent human values and objectives with an intended hope of extending and bettering human society.  Hence, the pastoral ministry becomes the church’s primary ordering instrument and may be considered as a useful and constructive vocation.   

The church or ecclesiastical institution is but one agency among other ethical institutions such as business and commerce, court judicial systems, financial management corporations, and even merchandisers that exist.  While each is uniquely different, all have similar aspirations and purposeful intentions aimed at maintaining, building, and cultivating, a useful and practical universal arrangement that both molds and shapes the common society of all.  Merely addressing this common perspective regarding Ethics is not enough; the cultural perspective of Ethics too, must be addressed.

 

Ethics from a Cultural Balance Perspective 

Having considered the vastness of the anthropological species, it is apparent that the present earth has a landscape that is draped and cluttered with many disagreeing ethnic groups, opposing religious beliefs and ecologically-damaging vocational occupations.  Here, the sociological investigator or those who consider the boundaries of Ethics are met with impending difficulties in prescribing and designing an ethical system that truly benefits all and agitates none.  This sort of scenario offers an opportunity to introduce the utilitarian model of Ethics in a cultural perspective.   

Harsanyi (1986) states, “The fundamental assumption of utilitarian  theory is that we ought to choose our  moral standards by rational criteria…that we ought to choose the moral standards of the highest expected social utility” (Harsanyi, 1986, p 1).  While the previous statement of Harsanyi (1986) does indeed, suggest an idealistic prescriptive remedy for what one should do in the instance of possessing an innate sense of “oughtness”, one quickly realizes that such a solution is not readily practical or socially accommodating  because of the many differing cultural variances that do exist.   

Again, in employing the “oughtness” concept, additional accumulative difficulties tend to surface; language barriers, societal customs, and religious beliefs, are often the most prevalent conflicts when considering utilitarianism.  Despite this state of disunity, communication  becomes an indispensable component regarding helping to balance the great cultural divide.  Queries like “Whose global government is the most appropriate for all people?”  “What political persuasion truly benefits everyone?” and “Whose academic description of Ethics is most readily to be believed?”   

Societies have yet arrived at a most adoptable solution and the continual presence and practice of effective communication skills has helped leaders to sustain an operable state despite the world’s multi-faceted assortment of values, ideas, and objectives. 

Ethics from a Communal Perspective 

Imaginatively, there is an illustrative philosophical axiom that relates to the idea that if the physical world has sufficient amenities to sustain an individual people, then it must certainly also possess the capacity to sustain a corpus that contains every person.  Revisiting the three components that are useful in maintaining an equitable balance of values against the intended objectives of all humanity, a simple and practical solution is to begin to view the world’s populace as a single immense community.   

Although varying, culturally, and ethnically different, these observed differences truly make life an ongoing enterprise.  Irrational creatures, being much more numerous and less adept in the skills of intelligence and transforming abilities, do exist in harmony.  Humans, too, can co-exist peacefully if they would exercise their skills regarding communication.  Many instances of miscommunication have ignited wars, isolated cultures, and decimated whole societies.   

Sensibly, if the balance of human society is to continue, then more effective ways of ethical communication must be employed to retain the delicate arrangement of human society.  Two inquiries to consider are; “What becomes of a society that lacks a set of Ethics to enhance its development?” and “What benefit does a set of ethical axioms do when an intelligent species has annihilated itself do to the lack of communication?”  This scenario depicts that practical Ethics is not only possible but a necessity. 

Please provide your personal or professional insight on the subject discussed.

(c) 2014 by Bruce Martin

About the Guest Blogger

bruce

Rev. Bruce Martin is a native of Knoxville, Tennessee and is a licensed and ordained minister of 35 years.  He is a now-retired mechanical designer from the Tennessee Valley Authority.  Rev. Martin attended the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Virginia as a Civil Engineering major in 1974.  He presently holds a Bachelors Degree in Systematic Theology from the American Baptist College in Nashville, Tennessee and a Master’s Degree in Organizational Leadership from the Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona.  

He also completed graduate studies in Divinity at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.  Presently, Rev. Martin is a 3rd year doctoral candidate in Education at the Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona.  Rev. Martin was formerly the Senior Pastor of the Oakland Baptist Church in Louisville.  While residing there, he taught New Testament Theology at Simmons College.

Reference

Harsanyi, J. C. (1986). Individual utilities and utilitarian ethics (pp. 1-12).  Physica-Verlag HD.