Have you heard of the “Ten Commandments Project?” It encourages young people 16 and younger to memorize the Ten Commandments by paying them ten dollars for the feat. George and Marion Kelly started the project in 1997 as an attempt to stem the tide of destructive conduct in young people. The children must recite the Ten Commandments before a witness like a minister, rabbi, Sunday School teacher, etc. A signed document is sent to the Kelly’s and the check follows.

The Kelly’s hope that ten million children will memorize the Ten Commandments in the next ten years. The Kelly’s have invested some of their own money into the project. The organization is now accepting donations from others who share their vision. This is a laudable concept. We can hope that children would both learn the Ten Commandments and then also learn to live by them. Those who base their ethic on the Ten Commandments will discover that it is worth much more than ten dollars.

-Michael Shannon, Preaching March/April 2003

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Situational ethics is now being taught in most schools. However, one teacher who wanted to illustrate the faultiness of human reasoning gave the following situation to a class of students:

“How would you advise a mother who was pregnant with her fifth child based on the following facts? Her husband had syphilis. She had tuberculosis. Their first child was born blind. Their second child died. Their third child was born deaf. Their fourth child had tuberculosis.”

“The mother is considering an abortion. Would you advise her to have one?”

In view of these facts most of the students agreed that she should have an abortion.

The teacher then announced, “If you said ‘Yes’ you would have just killed the great composer Ludwig van Beethoven!”


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In his August 1,2003Breakpoint commentary, Charles Colson said, “Last year, Zogby International took a poll of American college seniors in which 97 percent said that they believed their professors had given them a good education in ethics. But when asked what those professors had taught them, 73 percent responded, “What is right and wrong depends on differences in individual values and cultural diversity.” Only a
quarter of them said they had learned that there are “clear and uniform standards of right and wrong.”

Similarly, a reporter for Forbes magazine observed an ethics class at Harvard Business School in which the professor and students discussed case studies but avoided coming to any moral conclusions. Students were graded on how well they could logically defend their position, not on whether their position was actually defensible. The reporter wrote that students in this kind of class, rather than developing moral principles, merely “develop skills enabling them to rationalize anything short of cannibalism.”

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David Maister is a consultant to firms all over the world. Formerly a professor
at the Harvard Business School, he now spends 250 days on the road teaching
business professionals how to do a better job. His emphasis is not on technical
skills but on ethics, values, and morality. He says that successful firms are
not necessarily smarter but more ethical. It reminds us of the old adage,
“Honesty is the Best Policy.”

It is good to hear that the motto is true, but the real test of character is
this: am I honest when it is not the best policy? It is nice to have a
practical benefit from ethical and moral behavior. But even if there were none,
believers are committed to be ethical and moral and honest for a different and
higher reason.

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