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  • Reverend Theresa Baudier

Moral Licensing


Look closely and you will find it everywhere. The great pendulum of life swings widely.

"...when you feel you have done something moral, you will do something immoral after... " From Moral Self-Regulation (Mazar and Zhang). We do something good and we give ourselves permission to act worse in the future.

We clean up our diet and prove to ourselves we can eat healthy -- then we go on a binge on junk food on the weekend. We are really nice to a stranger to prove we are kind -- then we are a beast to next person we meet. Things in our lives are safe and secure proving we are in control -- then we decide to act destructively. We see it in our personal lives and can't seem to understand it.

Moral Licensing also happens in society. The United States elected its first Black President proving it is Not Racist --then swings hard right toward racism. It all happens in our subconscious individually and collectively. We don't even know that we are giving ourselves permission for wrong doing because we proved we know how to do right.

"I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I d not want is what I do." -- Romans 7:15 and 17-19

Evil is not a force that causes us to do wrong. The truth is much worse - it is our own sense of having done good that paves the way for misbehaving. The solution is to stop giving yourself permission to act inappropriately just because you've done good.

“You cannot be totally committed sometimes.” -A Course in Miracles.

This is what Jesus did in the 40 Days when he was in the desert, undergoing his own transformation. He made a commitment TO STAND STILL. He made a decision, an unalterable commitment, NO MATTER WHAT CAME UP, no matter what fears or “miracles”. The Christ is in you always says LOOK UP!

Once we understand and internalize the concept of Moral Licensing and see how we self-sabotage, we can adhere to our commitments and refuse to give ourselves permission to act otherwise. Try it -- it may not be comfortable but GRACE is amazing!

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