I’m sure we’ve all heard people saying something along the lines of, “I don’t need religion: I can decide for myself what is right and wrong.”
A few questions regarding that:
Do you actually decide for yourself what is right and wrong, in the sense of having a real standard that you strive to live up to and which you believe to be a real representation of a universal moral law?
How often does your idea of ‘right’ correspond with what you happen to want to do at that moment?
How often does your idea of ‘wrong’ demand a real sacrifice from you or deny you a real pleasure?
How often does your idea of ‘good’ demand a real sacrifice from you or require a real effort of will to live up to?
How often does your idea of right and wrong put you at odds with your family, your friends, or the culture at large?
Have your idea of ‘good’ ever led you to improve anyone else’s life in a concrete way?
How often do you actually have the opportunity to do the things you consider to be wrong?
Does your idea of right and wrong present you with an honest ideal that you can strive towards?
Is your idea of right and wrong used more often for directing your own behavior or criticizing that of other people?
Where does your idea of right and wrong come from? Do you know what the great moral teachers of the past have to say on the subject?
Is there any aspect of your life where the laws of right and wrong simply do not apply?
While you’re considering your answer to those questions, ponder the following quote by Theodore Roosevelt:
“Yes, I know all the excuses. I know that one can worship the Creator and dedicate oneself to good living in a grove of trees, or by a running brook, or in one’s own house, just as well as in church. But I also know as a matter of cold fact the average man does not thus worship or thus dedicate himself. If he strays away from church, he does not spend his time in good works or lofty meditation. He looks over the colored supplement of the newspaper.”