Living Free in the Spirit of Christ

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Ethics or Morals? 1

Posted on August 08, 2010 by Alexander

Morals are not the same as ethics.

There is no difference between the meanings of the two words, ethics and morality from an etymological view. They are from two different languages: ethics being a Greek word, and morality being a Latin word, which means manner and customs of people. Ethics, however, carries the additional connotation of internal standards because of Aristotles’s philosophical treaties on ethics, “Nicomachean Ethics“.   Morals, on the other hand, tends to lean in meaning towards the mores of a people or the outward manners and customs of a people just as the word customs is the root to the word costume.

The technical distinctions aside, words have a predominant meaning by the current usage.  In deed, most words are used by people without regard to the etymological meaning.  For example, the word “blessed”  has moved beyond Christian usage and is used by people of all faiths to mean privileged and favored, with happy circumstances.   The etymology of blessed is uniquely Christian, however, because it literally means “blood-covered”  (bled-sion) and comes from Medieval Catholicism.  To be covered in the blood means to be in covenant with God through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Consequently, such a covenant brings favor and privilege in happy circumstances.  But the word is used without any regard to its origin.

Likewise, I wish to elaborate on the deeper differences between our subconscious usage of the words “ethics” and “morality” which merit having two different words from two different languages grafted into English usage.   Ethics, in my opinion, leans more towards decisions of the conscience, whereas morals leans towards accepted public opinions and customs.  As such, ethics are expressions of God’s will, and morals are the expression of man’s will. Read the rest of this entry →

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