Shades of Gray
Human history is filled with efforts to objectify ethics. Interestingly, these efforts continue despite their failure as evidenced by a lack of cross cultural adherence. Having a black and white guide to ethics would greatly simplify many dilemmas faced by humanity, but is there such a thing as an objective ethic? To answer this question I think dictionary definitions are in order.
Objective: a measurable, reproducible fact not influenced by personal feelings or opinions
Ethics: moral principles that govern a person/ groups behavior
Based on these definitions, it is obvious that an ethic cannot be objectified. Ethics are shaped by a great variety of factors; largely religion, culture and social norms, age, gender, age and personal experiences. Each of these factors vary enormously from person to person and leave many people struggling with life’s challenges. So how does one who abides by the principles of the Bible navigate issues not clearly outlined? These gray areas can lead to an identity crisis for someone trying to live a black and white morality.
So what’s the answer? Through my own traumatic experiences following Bible College I was forced to answer this question. To my surprise and dismay at the time: there were no black and white solutions to my struggles and pain. Now, years later, I find that those same gray areas are freeing and exhilarating. I have a brain and strong logic. I can make good ethical decisions on a case by case level. My decisions are not objective, but if I make them with kindness and love… I will do well in most scenarios. At the end of the day these gray areas give each of us a chance to learn more about ourselves and how God can use the gray to teach us. They also give us empathy for those who are facing issues that fall between the lines.