Redefining Morality

The young woman was dating a very nice guy.  They had gotten past first impressions and the fun-filled entertainment that fills the time in new relationships, and were beginning to talk about worldviews and possible permanence. 

He was a smoker and she was not.

She actively practiced her faith and he did not.

The couple didn’t discuss smoking, but did spend many hours in conversation about the importance and effect of faith, or its lack, on their future lives.  In the end, he decided that he did not want to become an active participant in a faith-filled life.  In response, she opted not to continue pursuing a permanent relationship with him. 

Both of them were comfortable with their decisions, and they have remained friends.

Her friends were appalled. 

They could not understand how she could have tolerated his smoking.  They told her that they could never be with someone who smoked, and that breaking up with a fellow over cigarette use was not only acceptable, but desirable.

But when she shared the fact that they had chosen not to move forward into a deeper relationship because of their different perspectives on the role of faith in their lives, her friends openly stated that she was being absolutely unreasonable, and that if she stuck to that decision, she would find herself alone — forever. 

So faith is open to compromise, but smoking isn’t.

Welcome to the new morality.

There been much debate over the effect of removing God from the public marketplace.  This is the generation that has grown up in schools where God’s name could not be mentioned, and the role of Christianity in creating western civilization could not be acknowledged.  If the Church was referred to at all, it was always the villain in the story.

The textbooks were full of the Richelieu’s and devoid of the Maximilian Kolbe’s.  Those whose lives were informed by faith were presented as intolerant, regressive, and mean. 

At the same time, being physically healthy and attractive was touted as the ultimate good.  And while being healthy is certainly a “good”, and there is nothing wrong with taking care of one’s appearance, the final result of defining ultimate good in physical terms instead of spiritual ones robs us of the most important part of ourselves.

Many members of the young adult generation reflect the results of that robbery.  Suicide rates among young people are alarming high; STD infection rates are rising annually; the number of teens being treated for depression is increasing; and self-destructive behavior like cutting and anorexia are becoming more prevalent.

Can these trends be linked to the diminishing role of faith in the lives of our young people?  MTV decided to find out what if there is a common thread to happiness.  They conducted a survey of young people, asking them if they were happy and then asking what factors were most important in their lives.  They were stunned to learn that those who ranked faith as a major factor were twice as happy as those who didn’t.  They could offer no explanation for this surprising result.

They should have consulted St. Augustine, who discovered and wrote, nearly 1600 years ago, that our hearts were made for God, and so we would only be happy when we rested in Him.  It’s not a new truth — it’s a lost one.

For the sake of our children, it’s time we find it again.

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  • Great article. I have personally witnessed the smoking debate myself, and interestingly one of the holiest priest I ever knew would occasionally retreat to the secluded areas of his friary to smoke a cigarette. Our schools give a mixed message on morality. When it comes to smoking, they say absolutely “no” and treat it like the last societal sin, yet when it comes to sex they say “they will do it anyway, so lets give them contraception and make it safer”. That is like giving “light” cigarettes because they are going to smoke anyway, right?

  • Thanks, Andy. I’m paraphrasing this and adding it to my “quotes” file, thusly:

    “Our schools have no trouble telling our children absolutely to not smoke. But they claim that, with regards to sex, they have no authority to judge, and can’t hope to stop them, and so must provide contraceptives to make sexual activity ‘safer.’ If they treated smoking that way, they’d be demanding light cigarettes to give to our kids to smoke, because kids can’t be stopped from smoking anyway.”

    Mind if I attribute that to you?

  • AnnaMarie53

    Hooray! I am delighted to see the issue of “redefining morality” addressed in an open forum. Well, because it is a Catholic forum, just how public it actually is is open to debate…and more’s the pity because such is the case. As everyone who routinely scans these pages knows, we are “allowed” to weigh in with an opinion only when the subject is relegated to religion and even then, we must be prepared to be pilloried. I for one, am sick of it, and offer my two cents every place I can, and make no bones about how my conscience was formed! Which reminds me of another “no no” we Catholics are for the first time in history being cautioned against; anything that even remotely smacks of triumphantilanism. Wow, that is a big word for a very understandable, and in any other age, east issue to grasp. All it means, in my dictionary, is to convinced that one’s religion is the one true and right one. Please tell me, someone, why on earth would anyone belong to any religion one doesn’t consider the best, bother to join?

    Dear Lord, protect us from insincere dolts!