Is morality an issue in today’s modern and diverse societies?
The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy defines mortality as:
The term “morality” can be used either
- Descriptively to refer to some codes of conduct put forward by a society or,
a) some other group, such as a religion, or
b) accepted by an individual for her own behavior or
2. Normatively to refer to a code of conduct that, given specified conditions, would be put forward by all rational persons. (Source: Stanford.edu)
Given this definition, morality is certainly an issue in today’s world; however, there apparently can be different moralities depending on the group from which the moral code derives. Of course, as a Christian, it is my belief that the Bible and Christian ethics trump all other definitions of morality, but that is also where the world comes into conflict as people follow different codes of conduct based on traditions, various religions or the lack thereof.
Morality is not limited to sexual or dress conduct, however, that is the focus of this article, as an unusual circumstance exists in Abu Dhabi, a city in the United Arab Emirates. According to an article on Fox News, http://www.foxnews.com/world/2012/07/06/emiratis-want-crackdown-on-women-skimpy-dress/ the women, (interestingly) led by 23 year old Asma al-Muhairi who is appalled at the skimpy western attire she has observed in her incredibly prosperous and modern city, leads a protest against what she perceives to be immorality and disrespect for the moral traditions of her society. It is interesting that this protest is being led by women whom we are led to believe by American women’s groups, are subjected by men to the archaic way of dressing in full body robes and veils.
Our own history is not free of distress over proper attire as a moral issue. America, led by the stern and disciplined Puritans had specific clothing requirements that were designed to protect against sexual immorality. Humorously, to us living in modern America, the table cloth was instituted, not to protect table tops or to provide attractiveness to tables, but rather as a way to keep from driving men mad with sexual excitement. What!? Yes, they believed that a man was incapable of resisting the sight of a leg, even if it was a table leg, so they covered them with table cloths.
In modern America, we still see remnants of similar attitudes. We have Amish communities and others that have decided that a certain time in the past was the ultimate lifestyle for being close to God. These groups have separated themselves to communities where they wear the clothing, live the lifestyle of that time period and use horses and buggies for travel. They have denounced any new technology living without electricity and making their living completely from farming. In order to maintain their morality, they have found it necessary to separate themselves from the rest of society.
The interesting issue in Abu Dhabi is that the citizens of the Emirates comprise only 10% of the population of 8 million people. Therefore, this wealthy city filled with people from all over the world is overrun by people with significantly different morals. Al-Muhairi, who first encountered women in “hot pants,” was, in her opinion, observing women that were walking around the mall in their underwear.
Authorities say, “As the number of foreigners has increased, so have the stories of them violating the UAE's strict indecency code, which limits drinking to bars and nightclubs and bans public displays of affection. A drunken couple was caught having sex on the beach and another allegedly having sex in a taxi. A Pakistani was deported for flipping the middle finger at a motorist and the courts are filled with cases of foreigners having sex out of wedlock.
Most Emiratis rarely come face-to-face with misbehaving foreigners.
The malls, however, are a different story.”
Interestingly, as they work on this problem, they recognize that they are no longer in the majority. If they were, they believe the problem would be much less of a problem. Also, interestingly, they are reluctant to pass laws (especially laws that would include jail time for violating morality laws). By their own admission, they are not looking to catch people, but to change their behavior.
"We are not asking others to cover up like us. We are giving them freedom based on their beliefs and religion," al-Muhairi said. "We are not judging and saying this shows she has other interests. We never want to judge. Do whatever you want and wear what you want but with limits. Just respect the public here."
While all of this is going on, the United Nations is attempting to pass its own world laws that would define a world morality. We all know about the famous UN small arms Treaty that was recently rejected by the United States, but did you know that the United Nations is attempting to make prostitution legal around the world? http://video.foxnews.com/v/1756285638001/un-panel-legalize-prostitution-to-fight-aids The interesting thing about this is that the United Nations also has a panel that is attempting to ban prostitution around the world.
The most obvious thing that we have learned from such laws as prohibition is that there is no way to legislate morality. Morality is not a matter of laws, but of personal beliefs and discretion. Does that mean that there is no such thing as a moral standard? Not in my mind. As I said, my Christian beliefs provide me with my standard of morality. Am I appalled by the behaviors that I see in America? Absolutely! And I am certain that huge numbers of Americans are also concerned about the behaviors in America.
As standards for morality undergo dramatic changes all around the world; as people become more distanced from traditional values and as the movement of populations from one location to another becomes more prevalent, there has become a clash of moral standards that has never existed before.
What will this mean for the world? Perhaps it will mean that we will find ourselves separating ourselves into different and totally separate groups. Perhaps it will mean that there will be no community standards of morality at all. One thing is certain, it will bring social upheaval and difficulty for those who attempt to live and interact in “future world.”
John Wayne Tucker