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The Greyhound

The Student News Site of Loyola University Maryland

The Greyhound

Finding Morality and Purpose


In response to my recent article “Why we love redemption but hate God,” a reader posed the theological question: “What would you say to a person who would argue that they don’t need God or a religion to create a working moral code?”

First, I’d say, “You’re right.” You don’t need God to develop a code that works, but you do need God to develop a code with purpose.

This idea is one small part of the Christian critique of secular morality. All other ideologies boil down to one of two things: living morally to please God, or living morally to please the self. Pressing honestly into your life goals, hopes, and dreams, among other things, requires that you answer the question of “why” at each juncture.

Your answer must simultaneously display the value of humanity as a whole, while identifying a specific individual purpose for your own life. I would suggest that if your purpose runs in the face of another human’s inherent dignity, then you may be following a faulty moral code with an inadequate foundation.

As a Christian, I’m not so much concerned with the goodness of my moral code, but rather with the goodness of the One who influences my moral code. Make sure—as you wrestle with the question of how to structure your morality—that the shape your moral code takes lines up with your defined purpose. If your purpose is to please yourself, then your moral code must be influenced primarily by your desires. If your intent is to please the world, then conform to the world; and if your intent it to please God, center your moral framework on His commands.

For many Christians, morality and purpose are intimately connected. You may have heard this passage before:

“And behold, a lawyer stood up to put [Jesus] to the test, saying, ‘Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?’ [Jesus] said to him, ‘What is written in the Law? How do you read it?’ And he answered, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.’ And he said to him, ‘You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.’”

Christians and non-Christians can both find meaning in this message. Many people, however, think that they can apply the command, “love your neighbor as yourself,” without first applying “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with love all your mind.”

The Christian faith holds two great truths in tandem. First is that God is supremely worthy of our honor, praise, and reverence. Second is that man is infinitely valued and deeply loved by God. The way that God maintains His status and position as “supremely worthy” is not because we assign Him worth, but because He freely offers us a purpose out of His never-ending love.

God wants you to be happy. He wants you to be satisfied, secure, and fulfilled. This desire for our good, pleasure, and happiness is not motivated by God wanting us to follow our hearts, but rather from His desire to lead us away from our shortcomings and into His arms.

Looking for meaning within yourself will create a purpose, sure, but it will always be a “you-sized” purpose. Finding purpose from the world, whether in possessions, career, family, or legacy will leave you empty, forever wanting. Christianity offers another way: A life surrendered to God, humbly admitting that man stands helpless to satisfy himself, submitting to His will is a life that produces great joy, lasting peace, and unrivaled security.

When we mistakenly prioritize moral action above principled purpose, we miss the point. As a follower of Jesus, love for neighbor increases as God’s preeminence in your life increases. Love for your fellow man is driven by the love that God first initiates toward us. A “working moral code” may follow.

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  • AnonymousOct 13, 2017 at 12:56 pm


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Finding Morality and Purpose