September 19, 2014
Religious pioneer Mary Baker Eddy once wrote, “Moral courage is requisite to meet the wrong and to proclaim the right.” (Science and Health page 327) That deep discernment is needed now more than ever. Stories in the news tell of bad choices, dangerous choices, harmful choices that endanger and condemn, threatening peace and safety, even life.
Moral courage helps us to break habits of thought and action – our own and others – that would repeat mistakes and justify them. Moral courage is necessary to point out harm and reform the behavior behind it. Moral courage is that which doesn’t back away from the long term solution in place of the quick fix.
That doesn’t mean that moral courage is slow to act, nor that its results take time. Because moral courage is a spiritual quality, an inherent part of the divine nature made manifest in God’s dear children. It overthrows the “eye for an eye” mentality that seeks revenge. It dismantles the “but that’s the way it’s always been” outlook that keeps us locked in generational abuse. It stops us from throwing up our hands and saying “what can I do?”
Moses had moral courage. He held his ground against Pharaoh, eventually gaining the release of the Children of Israel. And when those same Children complained endlessly about conditions in the wilderness, he didn’t abandon them to their own petulant willfulness. Moses was so confident that his God-impelled work to free them from the slavery of Egypt was right, that he patiently and persistently saw to it that they were provided for, through deep and conscientious prayer to God. He perceived the Ten Commandments that established a consistent standard of behavior for all time. And all of this, even though his own past was blemished with violence and failure.
Jesus, especially – and more than all others, stood up for the rights of his fellow man. Not just the judicial or religious rights but the rights to health, happiness, and holiness – even the right to eternal life. He knew that his heavenly Father loved and cared for every individual. That law of Love enabled him to heal everything from sin to sickness to death, including his own.
The Master’s example is the ultimate of moral courage. It was shown in such diverse ways as preventing the stoning of a woman taken in adultery – even though the law allowed it – by causing the lawmakers to examine their own consciences. (John 8:1-11) It was shown in redeeming and reforming a tax collector to uphold not just the letter but the spirit of the law. (Luke 19:1-9) It was shown in speaking not a word in self-defense when he was being condemned to death. (Matt. 27:14) But Jesus even overcame that last injustice for himself and for all of us, showing that trust in God and faith in right ultimately prevails, here and now.
The Bible is full of stories of moral courage, inspiring and educating us today. You and I can impact our communities and our world, now, by standing together for good, for peace, for right. Even if we’re few in number, that’s better than none at all. And as the Bible shows, even just one is enough.
Who do you know that is a standard of moral courage? Learn from their actions and prayerfully reproduce them in your own life. The tide must turn. And we must be prepared to turn it.
Melissa Hayden is a Christian Science practitioner in Salem, OR. You can find more information and additional articles at this link. If you like what you’re reading, click the “add me” button.