The Biblical Nature of Ethics

I’ve always been one to see the Bible as defining my ethics. If I can justify my actions biblically, I can then justify them ethically. I’ve been challenged on that recently by folks who have no idea they’ve challenged me on that. It’s been a humbling process, but one that has needed to happen.

Practically speaking, I’ll begin with my CD mixing and sharing. I’ve been pretty liberal with passing out my favorite song collections – for party favors, baby showers, Christmas gifts, etc. I never considered that this was wrong. I don’t think I was necessarily sticking my head in the sand, but I simply didn’t think about it too much at all. I sort of viewed myself as a self-appointed Paste. Whenever someone gives me a CD like that, I love it and am introduced to a lot of new music I otherwise would never know about. I usually end up buying three or four albums from the collections, so the artists come out on top in the end, right?

Maybe, but I don’t have the authority to act as my own personal Paste. My thinking on this was seriously rocked when I handed out copies of my Christmas compilation to four guys in, get this, publishing (which should prove I didn’t think I was violating anything – otherwise I would have avoided the publishers in my gifting). The only one to question me on this was the head publisher himself and, while my face was burning up when he questioned me on it, I’m really glad he did. I had another small pile ready to give away sitting on my desk during that phone call. During that phone call, that small pile found their way to the trashcan.

So here is my public confession, since I’ve been public about my mix-mastering in the past. If you get a CD from me from this point on, know that I personally paid for your copy of all the songs I’m giving you, or have otherwise sought appropriate permission to share. And as much as I hate to do this, if you are one who shares music like this with us also, I’m hereby asking that you no longer include us, unless you also have personally paid for our copy of the songs you are sharing.

Tough part over.

That conversation sticks with me in many other arenas. We went to the movies recently and I’ll admit this too: I’m a snack sneaker. $9 for popcorn and a Coke is completely crazy, so I’ll usually sneak in a Coke and something salty in my pocket. No more. The last time we went to the movies we forked over the cash for the snack. In this case, they allowed one refill per item, so that was pretty nice. And yes, it was tempting to send someone else back with the tub for a third refill – the movie people would have never known, but that would be breaking the deal. They offered one free refill, I made that agreement with them when I bought the snack, and I would have been lying and stealing to have done otherwise. I felt really relieved by that decision that day.

Now comes Monopoly. I’ve grown up playing it that if you land on someone’s property and they don’t see you, and someone else rolls, you don’t have to pay. Without thinking, that was the way I began teaching my own kids to play. Craig played with us the other day and he called me on it: this teaches our kids to be honest and responsible with their debts how? He was right. Ethics and biblical understanding apply to everything; they inform and shape who we become.
May my yes be yes and my no be no, and my acts and intentions be honorable (and biblical) from now on, and for all the days of my life.