The Christian Science Monitor: The Ten Commandments as a moral source code in modern life

10 Dec 2019
In schools, workplaces, and legislatures, an army of would-be Jiminy Crickets is fast at work targeting bad behavior.

Originally found at The Christian Science Monitor by Mary Beth McCauley

In schools, workplaces, and legislatures, an army of would-be Jiminy Crickets is fast at work targeting bad behavior. If the world’s moral compass sometimes seems askew, these policymakers, administrators, and HR departments have fixes aplenty – seminars and webinars, podcasts and programs, learning modules, curricula, and handbooks. There are ethics codes, integrity tools, anti-corruption protocols and best practices to encourage seemingly no-brainer morals, respect, and personal integrity: Don’t hit on your underlings. Don’t pad the expense account. Don’t bully the kindergartners.

The most famous shalts and shalt-nots, the Ten Commandments, can seem sidelined in all this. For years a political lightning rod, and scorned by some as archaic, the Ten Commandments are conspicuously avoided lest they religionize the public square. As Wendy Smith, professor of management at the University of Delaware’s Lerner School of Business, put it, “There’s a huge sense that you don’t talk about religion in the workplace.”

But emerging research links the Commandments – one of the world’s oldest compliance codes – with universally embraced values like generosity and honesty, and suggests that dismissing them may be a mistake.

In that spirit, the Monitor asked ordinary people of faith who value the Commandments to share what “The Ten” mean to them personally, how they try to apply them in daily life, how they succeed, and how they fail. In the process, we hope to shed light on how 21st-century believers continue to find meaning in ancient religious ideas.

One of those profiled says he found answers while praying in prison. “If I was always good in Your mind I realize there must be a purpose for me,” Desmon “Dez” Rogers says. Once a drug dealer, he began to live, he said, “as if there’s a God.”

Ethics as a core concept

Secular ethics education became a “core concept” in business school education in the 1990s, and developed into a compartmentalized field of study on its own, “like accounting,” according to Professor Smith, who is also an Academy of Management scholar. Now, corporate decision-making is under the lens, as vocal millennials push employers on issues such as sustainability, immigration, and the environment. Investors aim not only to meet their own environmental, social, and governance criteria, but to demonstrate positive-impact choices. 

Continue reading original article at The Christian Science Monitor.

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Wendy Smith, University of Delaware