“Where is Your ‘Moral Compass’ Pointing Towards?”
By Ron Buxton
When a phrase is used in a figurative sense, it is called a trope. That’s exactly what that phrase “moral compass” is. You see, that expression has become quite popular of late, but I want to rescue it from its common political usage, and to go to its real significance. That being said, I will borrow some initial thoughts from my favorite author C. S. Lewis.
In the very first chapters of Mere Christianity, Lewis defines a Moral Law from which a “moral compass” derives its orientation. He wrote: “Human beings, all over the earth, have this curious idea that they ought to behave in a certain way, and cannot really get rid of it.” A few pages later, he continued: “Something which is directing the universe…appears in me as a law urging me to do right and making me feel responsible and uncomfortable when I do wrong,”
But here’s the rub. Who–or What–is that Something? And what makes that Something able to insert itself into humanity—historically and universally? That answer alone will provide the only reliable “moral compass” to navigate life with. Frankly, nothing else will take you “out of the woods” of a purposeless existence.
Society is now awakened to several ugly contemporary issues. And make no mistake—these are ugly and despicable matters. In the generation of the #MeToo movement, human trafficking, and global terrorism (to name just three)—look down at your own “moral compass”. How do we know that those matters are actually wrong? Who–or What–told you that? Is it just personal preference, a cultural “herd mentality”, or is it Something (or Someone) else?
When we appeal to something as right or wrong, we all resort to what Thomas Jefferson referred to as a “self-evident truth”. But where did that come from? Let’s be completely honest here. Natural Selection didn’t give it to us. The “survival of the fittest” instinct doesn’t motivate the selfless sacrifice that a “moral compass” seems to often point to. So where else can we turn? What is the “moral compass” pointing us towards?
These troubling questions absolutely plagued me as a younger college student. When I became impassioned about political and economic solutions, it only left me with more despair because those “compass directions” seemed to always veer in the direction of eventual selfishness and failure. And that’s when I had a “grace awakening”!
I reasoned: Why not turn to the Moral Law Giver–if One even existed? And why not go directly to that mysterious, ultimate Source? That–my friends–was absolute salvation to me! As I learned about the Man called Christ, I began to actually orient my life “out of the woods” of personal hopelessness. Amazingly, my “compass” actually pointed me to a Person–and not just any person–but the One who conquered sin, death, and meaninglessness in this lost world! I ask you: Where is your “moral compass” pointing you towards? Maybe it’s time to go right to the Source!