| Moral Theology Table of Contents and Introduction
Moral theology seeks to cut through this miasma of relativism and
establish human conduct on something more stable than the shifting sands
of custom, and give it motivation far above the prevailing norms of
conformity and the fear of being different.
| Moral Theology Chapter I: Morals and Religion
Until modern times the relationship between religion and morality was
generally taken for granted, and writers as far different in philosophy
as Plato and Avicenna, or in theology as Aquinas and Luther, never
questioned the basic truth expressed on Mount Sinai, when Yahweh gave
the Jews a decalogue whose first precepts were to honor God as a
foundation for the secondary precepts of the moral law. But something
new has entered the stream of human thought, a concept of man's autonomy
that wishes to dispense with religion in its bearing on morals, on the
grounds that the very notion of religious values is only a mental
| Moral Theology Chapter II: Norms and Postulates
However, just because an act is human does not tell us whether it is
morally good or bad. The moral quality of our actions derives from three
different sources, each so closely connected with the other that unless
all three are simultaneously good, the action performed is morally bad.
| Moral Theology Chapter III: Authority and Obedience
The concept of obedience to superiors is built into the history of
civilized society, and no culture worthy of the name has existed without
stressing the respect which is due to legitimate authority or the
duties of those in command. While much diluted through centuries of
use, the very word piety, derived from the Latin pietas, basically
means devotion to the source of our being - beginning with the parents
to whom we owe physical existence, to the state which is responsible
for our social well-being.
| Moral Theology Chapter IV: Life and Bodily Integrity
A superficial observer might wonder why a course in moral theology
should include a full-scale treatment of murder and mutilation, when
even the most primitive peoples had laws against unjust aggression and
punished offenders with severest penalties. The fact is that our present
age has seen mass-killing practiced as never before in history, and,
under the guise of eugenics, social welfare and pragmatism, has condoned
actions that not only Christianity but all religious systems have
condemned as crimes against humanity.
| Moral Theology Chapter V: Drinking and Temperance
The morality of drinking is unique, at least in a country like the
United States which spends about twelve billion dollars annually for
alcoholic beverages. Unlike other ethical decisions that people are
called to make, drinking involves more than one option. It may be the
choice to drink or not to drink. If the decision is to drink, another
choice has to be made about the amount that is moderate for the person
himself, because in this matter no two people are alike. And if alcohol
has given trouble, there may be the need to abstain from drink
altogether as the only practical way of solving the problem.
| Moral Theology Chapter VI: Christian Marriage
The Christian concept of marriage, although built on the natural law,
differs sharply from the earlier practices among the Jews and pagans,
and also from the modern secular usage - to the point that no area of
public relationship more clearly distinguishes Christianity from other
institutions of human society. It cuts across every aspect of the moral
law and has implications in every phase of man's attitude towards God,
so that marriage can truly be called the most revealing trait of the
Christian religion and almost the test of its validity.
| Moral Theology Chapter VII: Birth Control
Few subjects of social interest and no aspect of marriage is more highly
charged with emotion than birth control. The output of literature, pro
and con, rivals best sellers in the fiction field, and the end is not
yet in sight. In fact, if students of American law are to be believed,
propagandists for birth control have only begun their fight to make
contraception not only legally permissible but, if possible, also
mandatory in the foreseeable future.
| Moral Theology Chapter VIII: Divorce
Few aspects of marriage have been written about more extensively than
its breakdown through legal separation, yet the analysis for the most
part has been descriptive rather than critical. Sociologists and others
commonly look upon marriage as a purely secular affair, with social
dimensions indeed but not basically religious. The result is much
diagnosis but no claims to any effective remedy for the most serious
blight on the American way of life. If argument were needed for the
importance of religion in morality, we have it here in the problem of
divorce, where the cleavage between borrowed ideals and actual practice
is so tragic in consequences for the people themselves, for their
children, and for the future of the nation. Human nature is too weak and
human passions too strong to cope with the drive to independence and
freedom, which lie at the root of divorce, without powerful support from
religious values and motivation.
| Moral Theology Chapter IX: Sex and Chastity
It is not a new thing for Christianity to be accused of trying to take
the fun out of life, especially in matters of sex, by upholding taboos
which are simply contradictory to human nature. The pagan contemporaries
of the early Christians scoffed at their insistence on premarital
chastity and marital fidelity, and more than one martyr in the first
centuries was a victim of what we now understand to have been acts of
sadism. Exercise of power by individuals and groups was often associated
with a wanton cruelty that had its origins in sexual pleasure heightened
by causing others to have pain.
| Moral Theology Chapter X: Justice and Mutual Charity
The hardest thing in life is to escape from the shell of egoism that
naturally encrusts every human being and consistently to live for
others, in a word, to practice justice and charity. Yet everything that
religion teaches and all the evidence of experience confirm the judgment
that even naturally speaking true happiness consists in giving rather
than in getting, and that no one is more miserable than the man whose
life revolves only around himself and his own desires.
| Moral Theology Supplements: Business
and Finance / Legal and Medical Ethics
Morality in business places a constant demand on the conscience of a
believing Christian. More than any other phase of modern life, the
business world is permeated with problems that challenge one's sense of
justice and equity and that call upon every resource of prudence if a
man wants to remain faithful to ethical principles and also succeed in
the competitive market of today's economy.
The legal and medical professions cut across so many facets of human
conduct and imply so many principles of morality that some knowledge of
the ideals of these two professions should be familiar to everyone.
Fortunately lawyers, doctors and nurses have reflected a great deal on
the ethics that should guide their professional conduct, and a summary
of these ethical norms is available to the public.
| Basic Catholic Morality
The aim of this course is to obtain some fundamental instruction in the principles and practice of Catholic morality.