Friday, July 10, 2009

Moral choices

Following one of my posts, my friend Jay Rosen asks "Is it morally superior for a person to give their wealth to their family or to strangers? To refine the dilemma, If I could save one child, mine or an identical child who is not mine, which is morally the best choice?"

Actually, the two cases are quite different. In the first case, presumably we are speaking about what wealth remains after having completed the "normal" duties of taking care of and educating your child(ren).

In both cases, the primary duty is of taking care of those who are given to you by God to look after - and primary relationships come before secondary relationships. So necessary minimum care for yourself and your spouse comes first (on the grounds that we cannot and should not love others more than ourselves, but only as much as ourselves), care for parents precedes care for children, care for friends precedes care for non-friends (as is very clear from the direct teaching of Jesus the Lord himself regarding giving even to God having a lower priority than taking care of one`s partents).

However, minimum demands for each of these categories comes before higher demands from others, as Jesus also makes clear in the story of the Good Samaritan.

In the two cases above, the same principles apply. Which means, in the first case, that it is more moral to give the money to strangers, provided you have fulfilled your responsibilities to your elders and your children. In the second case, if you can only save one child, it should be that of your own - because the life of your own child comes before the life of another child. That is not only more moral, it is also more normal or instinctive.

I am sure that others may reach other conclusions regarding these two cases, but in each case we have to look beyond the decisions themselves to the principles on which the decisions are based and, in turn, beyond the principles to the authority who gives sanction to those principles. Sphere: Related Content

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