This has been my longest writing drought since starting my blog in January ’10. The demands of a new job coupled with my wife starting a new career as a nurse has made consistent reflection and writing more challenging. Most of my thoughts have been occupied by ideas about the nature of knowledge and how we come to know, since this is the focus of the high school class that I teach. I’ve just completed a unit on Ethics that engaged students in critical reflection on how they justify their beliefs about what is right and wrong. The last ethical “knowledge issue” we explored was “How are our ethical justifications influence by our views of the nature of evil and of the moral nature of man (good, evil, or neutral)?” As we discussed different views of the nature of evil, I challenged them to consider whether they believed that evil originates inside of us (i.e. in the “heart”) and works outward into external manifestations, or that evil originates outside of us and works inward to corrupt us.
Jesus teaches us that moral corruption does not work from the outside in, but from the inside out (see Mark 7:14-23). Social norms only require external adherence and thus are only violated by specific taboo behaviors; God’s standards of righteousness requires adherence from the heart, and thus can be violated internally by our thoughts, desires, attitudes, etc.