Moral Harm and Non-being

I am beginning a series of posts the goal of which is to get some understanding of the basic Christian framework called the Paschal Mystery. The Paschal Mystery is the teaching that the Incarnation of God as Jesus and Jesus’ subsequent suffering, death and resurrection radically transformed the human condition. These events restored the human condition from a fallen one in which at best human life had no greater destiny than that we typically attribute to bedbugs to an original one in which human beings rise after biological death to live eternally with God. Human beings were in the fallen condition because they had chosen some act which they ought not have chosen and so they were no longer as they ought to be.

The phrases with the moral terms are emphasized because they gave me the clue on how to clarify and modify concepts to become somewhat clearer about the Paschal mystery. Moral concepts will be those under closest analysis and modification. This post focuses on a notion of moral harm.

What is moral harm? Distinguish moral harm from natural harm which here I will treat as medical harm. I use “medical” to have a working definition of natural harm. The medical harm of an act is a physical or psychological condition brought about by an act for which the person has a high probability of being compensated by medical insurance. So if you assault a person and break his arm, that person can very likely win a suit for damages from you. Similarly, if a man seduces a boy into sexual acts medical professionals will almost certainly testify that the boy has suffered psychological harm for which he should be compensated.

Moral harm is not the medical harm which an immoral act causes. Certainly we cannot say that an act is not immoral if it causes no medical harm. Moral harm is the harm a person inflicts on himself when he chooses contrary to a moral law. For instance, there is a moral law that you ought not testify that you saw a man at the scene of a crime when you clearly realize that he was somewhere else. “Thou shalt not bear false witness against your neighbor!” The moral harm he inflicts upon himself comes from choosing to break the moral law. Moral laws specify how we ought to be. By choosing to break the moral law he chooses to not be the kind of person he ought to be. Moral harm is not being as you ought to be. Harm can be called an evil. So a notion of harm or evil as non-being is being used: non-being as a departure from what ought to be. The non-being which is evil may be an actual state of affairs. But it is a state of non-being, moral non-being, because of its difference from what ought to be.

This notion of moral harm or evil as non-being will be fundamental in posts trying to get clearer about the Paschal mystery. This will include introduction of a notion of Satan!

My book explores the notion of moral evil in conjunction with an examination of male sexual morality.

My book Confronting Sexual Nihilism: Traditional Sexual Morality as an Antidote to Nihilism was released by Tate Publishing on March 11, 2014. See Book Web Page for information about the book. The publisher’s listed price is $26.99. Printed copies can be purchased here by credit card for $3.99, plus $3.71 for shipping and handling.

To purchase the printed book by check, send check of $3.99 plus $3.71 for shipping and handling per copy. Send to:
Charles F. Kielkopf
45 W. Kenworth Rd.
Columbus, Ohio 43214
Include your shipping address.