Limits of Morality?



What are the limits of our moral responsibility?  Are there limits to our moral responsibility? An interesting news piece a week or so ago was that the city of Salzburg had installed airbags on lampposts to protect people who are texting from harming themselves.  The council had seen it as a moral responsibility to prevent people from harming themselves, even when carrying out, shall we say, less wise acts such as texting while walking.

We can increase this moral scenario to a hypothetical situation (which may or may not be truly defensible in light of the abilities of the “disabled.”)  What is our responsibility if the “stereotypical” blind man (dark glasses and white stick) is heading towards the open manhole? Should we shout out?  Do we watch? Do we ignore?

Unlike the first scenario, there is no fault on the part of the one endangered in our second case (John 9: 1-3)?  But, even in the first, should we allow people to fall victim of their own folly?  The answer would seem to me, to be no. We have a moral responsibility to “love our neighbour as ourselves (Mark 12:31).”

But what about spiritual danger?  Do we have the same moral imperative to shout warning to those who sin?  It is easy to take the approach that, “it is not my place to judge.”  Fair enough, don’t be judgmental. It is up to God to judge. We are all sinners. But is that the end of the matter? Or do we still have a responsibility?

Here is a simple enough approach to address this, without entering into finger pointing [or any PC or non-PC agenda].  We are all sinners.  We need not be judgmental in calling that fact to others’ attention.  We need not focus on any single act, or sin; but on sinfulness itself.  The positive approach is to call attention to the “manhole cover” that will make the situation safe.  We need to teach about the cleansing blood of Him crucified, and of the grace which offers this “fix.”  Herein lies our moral duty to “love.”

John Wesley put excellently when he said,”[W]ere I to let any soul drop into the pit whom I might have saved from everlasting burnings, I am not satisfied that God would accept my plea ‘Lord, he was not of my parish’.”

It is something to think about.