Exploring complex issues
The Salvation Army’s new national Moral and Social Issues Council (‘MASIC’) has been tasked with exploring ‘moral, social, ethical and related matters upon which The Salvation Army may be called to share an informed opinion both with the community at large and with its own people’, as tasked and as proactively pursued by MASIC's national chair, Professor Graeme Young AM.
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Issues addressed will include perennial topics such as euthanasia and assisted suicide, abortion, discrimination and numerous other subjects that call for detailed research and consideration. These include: the Safe Schools curriculum, the use of medical marijuana; supervised injection facilities, etc.
Then there are those unexpected topics that seem to come from the realms of science fiction; such as the biomedicine developments such as the US announcement of a human / pig embryo, with all the ethical questions that such a chimeric rendering raises.
Asked why The Salvation Army should be preparing content and discussing these topics, Professor Young said there are several reasons, including the fact that ‘The Salvation Army has always been an advocate for the “under-served”, and there are pressing moral and social issues we face that marginalise and disadvantage those people whom we serve’.
MASIC has been mandated to ‘study moral, social, ethical and related matters on which The Salvation Army may be called upon to express an opinion, and be active in promoting that view; be alert for issues likely to develop in the future and study them in advance’. It is also called to ‘prepare positional statements, guidelines for Salvationists and discussion papers for approval and publication; and arrange for the preparation and presentation of submissions on key social justice, ethical and religious issues’.
‘Let us be clear,’ Professor Young told e-connect, ‘MASIC is not the moral police.
‘The imposing of black or white, strict rules may help some people to feel comfortable; but it is not a mature response. A number of issues become a choice between several actions, each with its own potential undesirable consequences. Strict rules can make barriers and not allow for individual circumstances.’
‘We share with leadership the view that The Salvation Army must be a “thinking movement”. To achieve that, people must be informed about those matters on which we are called to make a moral judgement. MASIC seeks to provide timely guidance that has the ultimate goal of a strengthened relationship between oneself and God.’
When it comes to controversial issues such as same sex marriage, Salvationists and Salvation Army employees may be called upon to vote according to the dictates of their consciences, Professor Young states.
‘MASIC’s role is to help people make the decision that is right for them. We aim to help people develop a sense of “moral discernment”, but one that is biblically based and which values humility, charity and courage.’
If The Salvation Army is to have a healthy and helpful future as part of Australia, he explained, ‘we must be a thinking movement, and we cannot be risk averse. We need to be open about the issues that we face; we also need to be consultative, to share open dialogue with the whole Salvation Army crew – to be responsive and to engage with the communities whom we serve.’