Copyright

The Relationships Between Morality, Law & Religion

The Relationships Between Morality, Law & Religion
Coming up next: Divine Command Theory: Definition & Ethics

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
 Replay
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:02 Explanation of Terms
  • 1:25 Which Came First?
  • 2:04 Cultural Example
  • 2:51 The Law
  • 4:10 Lesson Summary
Add to Add to Add to

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Timeline
Autoplay
Autoplay
Speed

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jessica Whittemore

Jessica has taught junior high history and college seminar courses. She has a master's degree in education.

This lesson discusses the interconnectedness of morality, law and religion. It highlights the debate over the origin of morality and religion while also emphasizing the force of the law.

Explanation of Terms

In the last few years, Western culture has touted the mantra, 'You can't legislate morality.' Although popular at rallies and political debates, this new catch phrase isn't completely accurate. Yes, on paper, Western lawmakers aren't supposed to play morality cops, and religion is supposed to be separate from the state. However, as today's lesson on the relationship between morality, law and religion will show, the boundaries between these three terms are often fuzzy at best. Seeking to support this thesis of sorts, let's define our terms.

To begin, morality is explained as beliefs delineating what is right and wrong or what is good and bad behavior. With this definition, it's important to note that moral codes are not written decrees set by the state. On the contrary, laws are the decrees a state requires its people to follow. Obeying a law is not voluntary. It's mandatory. To not do so invites penalty and punishment. Ending our definition of terms, religion is a belief system based on confidence in a higher power.

With our terms laid out on the table, let's move onto the relationship part of our lesson. Keeping time in mind, we'll limit our discussion to how our terms play out in the Western world. Of course, there are many different opinions and ways to handle this topic so we're going to keep things rather basic.

Which Came First?

For starters, morality and religion have pretty much walked hand in hand throughout history. In fact, many Theologians argue that all moral laws have their basis in supernatural commands. To them, man only understands the concept of good because there is a higher power that is good. In the which-came-first-the-chicken-or-the-egg debate, theologians would argue religion birthed morality.

Of course, many secular humanists would tend to disagree. They'd argue morality is the author of religion. Man realized he needed a code of conduct to keep from chaos. Therefore, man devised the eye in the sky concept to keep everyone in line.

Cultural Example

Regardless of where you fall on the which-came-first debate, it's hard to deny that morality and religion are related. They might not be identical twins, but they're at least not-so-distant cousins. To prove this, let's take a look at mainstream Western culture.

Being founded in Judeo-Christian beliefs, most Western faiths peddle modesty. Yes, the definition of modesty has changed over time, but a woman walking down the street without a shirt on is still going to cause a stir. Even the average atheist will probably cover his kid's eyes.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about Study.com
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create An Account
Support