Integrity…part II

November 22, 2007

So the more I think about it, the more I suspect that there are three fundamental parts to developing a life of integrity.  The first is espousing a belief about something…anything really.  I believe that snow days are fun (today just happens to be one for me here in t-dot).  If we don’t believe in anything then I think the quest for integrity is a silly notion.  Though…I think that it would be nearly impossible for someone to believe in nothing…I guess even that would be a belief of sorts.

The second part is acting out on this belief in a way that aligns oneself with it.  This morning I sent a Facebook message to several of my friends and requested an impromptu breakfast party.  Now that may, or may not, actually happen (depending on whether or not any of these people care to get out of bed and whether or not they have class).  But I am most certainly interested in using my new found morning to engage in fun activities – – like blogging.

The third part is really being upfront with people about what our belief is so that they can see that our actions and beliefs are consistent.  I think it is an accountability of sorts.  But this is the category where we usually find ourselves in trouble – I think so anyways.  Let me explain why:

I think that people, in general, espouse the beliefs of their families and friends.  One’s social setting is the framework for their system of belief.  And depending on the situation, it can be easy to hold an opposing view…or quite difficult.  So what ends up happening in tight knit communities, where individual thinking is not overly encouraged, is that people end up asserting things they really don’t believe – OR they end up acting in ways which wouldn’t match their assertions.  Either way, one of the first two principals is violated and our integrity in turn.

But this is most complicated and disturbing because it comes down to people being scared of letting people see their true beliefs and actions.  It is a deficiency in community, really.  People don’t want to feel judged, slighted or marginalized for ‘straying from the right path’ and so they simply sacrifice something to keep up appearances.  The pressures of ‘fitting in’ or ‘doing the right thing’ are too much for people sometimes and they end up feeling guilt even to the point of throwing in the towel.

Why do we, as Christians, feel that it is so important for people to live out our standards with such perfection?  Why do we preach a message of acceptance and forgiveness to the unbeliever and then drop the ax on someone who is already in the church?  It has done a great disservice to the Body of Christ – making us scared to think and act; to change and adapt…and has turned us into moralistic, sadistic, conformers…people who atone for our own sin by berating others.

I hope and pray that we can become people who are willing to work at developing and knowing what we believe to the point that we are willing to assert and live what we believe unashamedly.  Then I think we will be the kind of people that can show empathy and mercy; love and forgiveness to others.

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9 Responses to “Integrity…part II”

  1. paul said

    this is an interesting topic. lets discuss it when you get home sometime.

  2. Katy said

    Here are your three points on the fundamentals of having integrity:

    1. Espousing a belief about something…anything really.

    2. Acting out on this belief in a way that aligns oneself with it.

    3. Being upfront with people about what our belief is so that they can see that our actions and beliefs are consistent.

    While I agree that to be a person of integrity, one must act in accordance to ones beliefs, I wonder about the starting point of this definition. What is the foundation of #1- the belief itself?

    Suppose that someone believed that anyone who wears a blue shirt should be punched in the face. Then, for this person to act with integrity, the situation would be as follows:

    1. They believe in something- People who wear blue shirts should be punched in the face.
    2. They act in accordance to this belief- going around punching anyone they see who wears a blue shirt.
    3. They make it clear to everyone they meet that they believe that anyone who wears a blue shirt should be punched.

    According to your definition, our blue shirt puncher is a person of integrity. Hmmm.

    This is obviously a ridiculous example, but it begs the question- how did this person come to believe that people who wear blue shirts should be punched?

    To add to this, the Christian moralists that you mentioned in your post, have been believing things and putting those beliefs into action for years- but does that really make them people of integrity?

    I agree that we must stop living in the inconsistencies of our lives and be people of truth. However, we must also consider the foundations of our beliefs before we decide to incorporate them into our actions.

  3. jasonlocke said

    Katy – you bring up a good point.

    But what I’m saying in this blog is that consistency in belief, action and life equates with integrity…not that every person who does this is believing true things and thus justified in their actions.

    I mentioned in my first posting on integrity that it is not my place, personally, to decide whether or not every person has the right belief…but whether or not people are standing by their beliefs that defines them as living lives of integrity.

    So – I guess that these moralistic Christians I refer to are people of integrity…but that doesn’t mean I agree their positions.

    I would also say that the person who punches others in the face for wearing a blue shirt is also living with personal integrity.

    I would even go as far to assert that if he got caught by a cop who was wearing a blue shirt and didn’t punch him in the face…then his integrity is compromised. The results of this man’s actions will soon either (a) teach him that maybe he is misled in his belief; or (b) cause him to be all the more fervent in punching blue-shirted people. Which ever he chooses needs to be a conscious decision and should be the basis for his next set of actions.

    A discussion of what Christian Integrity looks like will probably hit the blog site soon.

  4. Renegade Blogger said

    As Jason already said, the blue shirt puncher is a person of integrity. Living according to what your beliefs is what makes you a person of integrity. Saying what you do, and doing what you say. Regardless of whether what you are doing is right or wrong…

    It would be wrong for me to do something that I believed was wrong, even if it was not actually wrong. If we began calling people who said one thing and did another people of integrity, then where would we be?

    I think Katy is equivocating between integrity and morality in general. There is definitely more to morality than integrity.

  5. Patman said

    I think it would be reasonable to say integrity is a personal thing. I don’t think another person can truly judge someone else’s integrity. We may see markers to or find inconsistencies against it but unless we can see how and why decisions are made than we cannot truly know.

    Like Jack Bauer…think about it

  6. paul said

    Jack Bauer is cool.

  7. Katy said

    If we have agreed that the definition of a person of integrity is “one who lives in accordance with their own beliefs”, then yes, I suppose I was equivocating between integrity and morality. I think that’s because I’m very uneasy with the divorce of those two concepts.

    With the example of the blue shirt puncher asks the question- what is the good of integrity without morality?

    People throughout history, acting with integrity (under our definition), have lived out their beliefs by doing much social, spiritual, emotional and physical harm to others.

    So, I think that having integrity is good, and it does have some benefits in itself. (One of them being that a person of integrity is the same inside and out- they say what they do, and do what they say.) However, I think that the good of integrity in itself will quickly run out and we will soon have to ask ourselves, “are my beliefs really the kind that are worth putting into action”?

    But having integrity is a good start. Just as Jay said in points (a)/(b) about the blue shirt puncher, in living out our beliefs the consequences of our actions soon become a litmus test for the belief from which our actions came.

  8. angela said

    integrity: the state of being whole and undivided. (oxford’s)

    i like that definition. instead of compartmentalizing or cutting our lives into pieces, on account of guilt, or shame, or the expectations of others – let us live with authenticity – whole and undivided.

    God’s grace is great enough.

    A. xx.

  9. faithie said

    just sayin hello, I’m feelin’ the discussion… but if i were to comment: to live with integrity even with morality as a compass may not help if there is no general consensus on what morality is…if i’m true to me and you’re true to you, we may still decide killing each other fits in our justifiable moral framework… then what?

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