On Being a Free Moral Agent

At a time when moral and spiritual values are being downgraded on campus and in social and business circles, it is well to consider just what it means to be a free moral agent. Does it mean freedom to do what one pleases, whether it be right or wrong? Of course not. It means to be free from error to the point where one is able to distinguish what is right from what is wrong, able to choose to do what is right, and to refuse to do what is wrong.

But there are areas in which there are different degrees of right and wrong. Under these circumstances one is a free moral agent when of two relatively right things he is able to choose the better, and of two relatively wrong things, the lesser.

This is the way Mary Baker Eddy approaches the subject in an article on "Wedlock" in "Miscellaneous Writings." She states on page 288, "Wisdom in human action begins with what is nearest right under the circumstances and thence achieves the absolute." Beginning with "what is nearest right under the circumstances" and continuing on this basis one fulfills the moral law and keeps on progressing until he "achieves the absolute."

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Education and Reality
March 3, 1962

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