Good morals lead to good laws – Chuck Norris.
True North vs. Magnetic North
In September 2019, a little known but once in a lifetime phenomenon happened. Both magnetic and true north aligned. It was little known because it had no effect on GPS systems or compasses. This alignment is a phenomenon because while true north is a fixed point, magnetic north, to which compasses are tuned to often shifts over time. The difference or angle on a compass between true and magnetic north is called declination. Failure to make adjustments for this declination could mean going in the wrong direction.
The event of 2019 may have had no impact on our lives. But looking at the above phenomenon through the lens of morality may cause us to think a little deeper. As the world has ascended in terms of technological advances, it seems there has been a noticeable decline in morality. A deviation from true north (values and beliefs that once were keystones) has been placed on the fringes of society as humanity has become the masters of our fate and the captain of our souls. Our moral compasses no longer point true north. And hence we are moving in the wrong direction. With all that we see happening around us, could it be a sign calling us to locate True North and set our moral compass in its direction?
Finding True North
When true and magnetic north aligned, the declination angle was zero. Meaning no adjustments were necessary because the right shift occurred. I believe that finding True North and aligning our lives with it is the best way to remove declinations that are taking place in our society. Declinations vary from place to place. We see declinations in society as humanity attempts to redefine life without standards. We are further asserting how truth has become relative to how we feel at certain times or the popular opinion of the day. But True North, a fixed point, reminds us that morality operates at its best when it is not dependent on the zeitgeist of the day, but on an absolute standard. Leading to the question, what is True North?
In terms of humanity, society cannot function as it should when God occupies the lowest position on the totem pole of life. God is the True North. And it is baseless to expect things to get better when God is not elevated to His rightful place in society. The marginalization of God is to the detriment of the culture. The good news is just as true north doesn’t change geographically, God remains the same as well. In finding our way to Him, morality in humanity becomes one of the many benefits. And it has been modeled for us unmistakably.
The Model of Morality
We live in a time of “low morals and poor models” as Dr. John Maxwell once put it. And we need both to be at an all-time high if the tide will turn on issues plaguing us today. Morality is the standard of what is right and wrong, and the ability to decide right no matter how good or rewarding wrong feels like. One person paved the way by exemplifying the perfect moral life. Jesus Christ. And His example are the footsteps we can follow into a better future.
Footsteps Worth Following
Jesus modeled what I call active morality. It’s antithesis, passive morality, otherwise known as sins of omission, is knowing what is right but not doing it because of external factors. These may range from peer pressure to preservation of reputation. Active morality bears the responsibility of doing what is right, even at personal cost. With the power He was given, Jesus went about doing good. He healed sick people, loved the maligned in society, and in the ultimate show of love gave His life to save humanity from eternal death.
C.S. Lewis articulates that active morality is based on three things. First, with fair play and harmony between and among people. Second, harmonizing the things within us or inside our hearts. And finally, its connection to the overall purpose of human life. He uses a band where all instruments are tuned and are heading in one specific direction led by a conductor. Lewis goes on to say that the three aforementioned things help us from getting out of tune resulting in dissonance and chaos. While some view morality as that which interferes with doing what is right in our own eyes, I compare it to a safety device on a machine that avoids injury or worse, death. Morality is a life superpower keeping us in harmony individually and relationally, creating a society that is attuned to the same standard of living as defined by God.
Final thought: Using C.S. Lewis’ description of morality, it is safe to say that the heart or the harmonizing of what is within us is a crucial stage. For an instrument to be played in harmony with other instruments, tuning is necessary. Our hearts are like instruments. For us to have harmony or alignment within ourselves and others, God’s standard of morality is the tuning fork. And heart work cannot be performed by laws. Only God can change the heart. And point us true north again.
Keep on Keeping on!