Chapter 6: Making Moral DecisionsWe become the choices we make.This means that the kind of choice wedecide reveals the kind of person we are.However, it is equally true also that thechoices we make can form the kind ofperson we will become.Whether we like it not, we have to makechoices or decisions
But to make real choices or serious decisions is not easy. A lot of things have to be taken into consideration: Example: 3. The circumstances of our decisions/choices 5.The possible consequences 6.The guidance of others 7.The values formed in us
How do I make good decisions?We make decisions everyday.In making decisions, we use our gift of freedomand intellect.There are easy decisions to make . . .But there are times when decisions are noteasy . . . When they become so difficult . . . .Reasons: peer pressure, conflict of values, doubt,fear of the consequences,. In this case decisionsshould be made very carefully.
What then is needed?• The courage to actually choose what is good and proper, especially when pressured• The need to follow what is truly good according to our conscience, which can come also from a good discernment• To arrive at a clear decision, we need to educate or form our consciences
Crossroads of our LifeWays of facing the crossroads in ourlife:3.those who allow external events andcircumstances to decide for them. Ex. “tossed coin decision” - It degrades our capacity tothink and simply let fate decide. (see p. 84 – St. Ignatius ofLoyola)2. Those who resort to bible cutting (byrandomly selecting verses and interprets its meaning as the willof God). This is very dangerous, for the Bible is not an easy bookto discern, or simply for that purpose.
3. Those who make decisions but failing to realize that we are all persons-in-community These persons are either: Individualist conformists (those who consider only their private perspective without listening to anybody) Usually chooses on those elements that support their bias; it leads to excuses and rationalization
or passive conformists(those who decide merely on what otherssay)Decision making is left to external factorslike barkadas; usually easily influenced4. Those who make decisions based on truth and respect for their humanity; it affirms our capacity to make good choices in relation to self, others and God.
IMPORTANT ELEMENTS IN MAKING MORAL DECISIONS Making moral decisions involves different elements to guide us. These elements are very important if we are to understand our moral situation and arrive at a good moral decision, to which we are called.
1. Investigate the Facts of the Moral Act One guarantee of making a good moral decision is to have a clear awareness and assessment of what we are supposed to do. We need a thorough understanding of the moral act we will execute. (Avoid rash decisions) In other words, investigate the facts and moral elements that determine the goodness or wrongness of the act. How to do it? Our conscience judges the morality of our action in three dimensions, namely:
a. THE OBJECT OR NATURE OF THE ACTThis dimension answers the question: What is the actinvolved? In other words, what have you done or what doyou intend to do?Example:c. You have maligned the good name of your classmate by spreading gossip. This act is what we call slander or lying.b. You have taken something that does not belong to you. The act is what we call stealingc. A married person has another relations other that the married partner. This act is what we call adultery.
b. The Intention of the ActThis dimension answers the question: Why are you doingthe act? In other words, what is your intention for doingthis act? What is your motive or reason for doing the act?Warning in any moral decision-making process:THE END DOES NOT JUSTIFY THE MEANS.In other words even if you have a good intention, it doesnot necessarily justify the evil means to arrive at thatintention.Example: Assisting someone (cheating) to pass in the test (so that he will not repeat 4th yr )does not change the nature of the act: it is still cheating and you are an accomplice. note: having the best motives will never make a morally evil action justified.
c. The Circumstances of the Act.This dimension or element answers the questiondirectly related to the circumstances surroundingthe decisions like: who, when, what, where, etc...Note: circumstances does not determine thegoodness or wrongness of an act; however, itlessens your responsibility or culpability inthe given act. Example: a destitute, jobless and trying-hard pickpocket compared to a wealthy, powerful and educated corrupt politician Note: the right to live is more important that luxurious abundance
2. Inquire about the Moral Norms Affecting Your Act. Normally, we seek the guidance of others (especially the elder ones) when making decision. The main reason for this is our awareness that our decisions can affect others also. Note: Asking the advice or guidance of others does not take away our responsibility for our actions. We have the final say in our decisions. It is still our decision, our responsibility.Since we are in a community, our moral norms are expressedin various ways: laws (civil, Church and divine). These areimportant sources of truth and wisdom to guide us and lead us to the truth.
3. Imagine Alternatives andConsequences Think and reflect on the consequences or effects of your decisions. We ask: What can happen if I choose to do this act? What alternatives do I have? Can I identify short or long term consequences. . . Note: Think not only of the short term effects but also long term effects. Reflect on the example given in your textbook.
4. Listen to your emotionsThey say that feelings or emotions areimpediments to objective decision-making.Example: “Gamitin mo ang utak mo, huwag angpuso mo.”But if properly “educated” and used sincerely,emotions can be of great help for us to arrive at anobjective and responsible decision. Butbe careful of media, it can sometimesmake us insensitive to certain emotions.Ex. Too much portrayal of bloodshed, immorality. . .
4. Listen to your emotionsAnother example:We experience outrage whenever we witness acts of injustices and oppression. We experience a feeling of joy whenever we witness acts of charity and compassion.These emotions, in an implicit way are telling usthat that thing is wrong and the other is correct. Itgives us a certain norm to follow andsomething to guide us.Educate the mind and the heart.
How then to educate our hearts?• Be aware of our emotions as we experience them2. Striking a healthy balance between the extremes of repressing them or giving them free rein.3. Ordering our impulses and motivations reasonably.4. Becoming sensitive to other people’s feelings5. Nurturing our relationships
How then to educate our hearts?Emotions, when properly formed andchanneled, direct us from narrow self-centeredness to a compassionatecommitment to the good of others.Challenge: LOVE AND DO ANYTHING YOU WANT TO DO.
5. Implore God’s Help in Prayer But first of all, what is prayer? • An intimate conversation with God (St. Theresa of Avila). •A personal loving relationship with God – this is the heart of prayer •But not simply memorized prayers . . . you can have your own prayer
Forms of prayer: Praise; thanksgiving; supplication; contrition; offeringKinds of prayer:Personal/private(Meditation/personal prayers/recollection/ retreatsCommunal (sacraments, public worship . . . )But prayers are not only in words or rituals;it can also be done in loving service to the Lord.
Jesus : A Person of PrayerChrist: our ideal Person of PrayerHe prayed during important events(crossroads) in his life: Lk 3:21 : Baptism/desert Lk 6:2 : choosing of his disciples Lk 9:29 : Transfiguration Jn 17 : Last Supper Lk 22:47 : Gethsemane Lk 23:34 : On the cross
But how actually do we pray?•Read and pray the Bible•Visit the Blessed Sacrament•Examination of Conscience•Keep a journalReminders:2.Be humble 5. Properdisposition3.Be serious of what you are 6. Observe silencedoing4.Avoid distractions 7. Concentrate5.Don’t rush; take your time 8. Have nothing in mind but God’slove
God answers all our prayers!HOW?God has 3 ways of answeringour prayers:1. YES!2. NO!3. LATER!
Growing in Virtue, Growing in ChristAs Christians, we need to ask help fromJesus, especially during difficult situations.To help us make good decisions, it is notenough to know the laws;We have to discover and nurture certainChristian virtues (these are sources ofmotivation and power to do what is trulygood.
What is a virtue? it is any developed capacity of the mind or will to accomplish moral good. We have 2 kinds: 1. Theological virtues Faith: the virtue by which we firmly believe allthe truths God has revealed Hope: the virtue by which we firmly trust God,who is faithful to his promises, Love: the virtue by which we love God above all things for his own sake and our neighborsas ourselves for the love of God.
2. Cardinal Virtues:•Justice: the virtue that disposes us to give to everyone what belongs to him; to give what is due to God and neighbor; to live according to the commandments; safeguards the dignity and rights of man (to live, freedom, honor, good name)• Fortitude: the virtue that disposes us to do what is good despite of any difficulty; it gives us strength to do good and avoid evil.
c. Prudence: the virtue that disposes us in all circumstances to form right judgments about what we must do or not; it teaches us when and how to act in matters relating to our eternal salvation d. Temperance: the virtue that disposes us to control our desires and to use rightly the things which please our senses (ex. vices)