What is morality, anyway, and who decides—and why should anyone care?

Some people have a vague conception that morality is really just a bunch of arbitrary rules made up long ago by pious religionists. Without realizing it, I held this concept myself for many years. I saw morality as a fence, a set of rules that divided the good people from the bad. If one obeyed the rules, he was on the good side. But one imagined how much fun there was over on the other side of this fence!

I remember feeling confused by Jesus' parable of the prodigal son and his family (see Luke 15:11–32). The prodigal had broken moral laws with his "riotous living," but then had returned to find his father's love for him still intact, illustrating God's indestructible love for man. I never begrudged the prodigal his father's great love and forgiveness, shown by the welcome-home celebration that his father threw for him. But it always bothered me that the older son—the good son—didn't receive some kind of extra reward for having been good and obedient all along.

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Father-Mother God is with me
November 11, 1996
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