Episode 154 – Morality

Is it possible for an institution to enforce a moral code and remain inherently non-sectarian? This week, the hosts of The Masonic Roundtable dive into philosophy as they discuss the concept of Masonic morality through the lenses of moral relativism and moral absolutism.

Image Credit: Marc Treble (flickr creative commons), with TMR symbolism added.

Show Notes:

Grand Lodge of Nebraska Directs Masons Impoverished by Dues Increases to Seek State Aid.


2018 Quatuor Coronati Conference at GW Memorial 9/14-16/2018 Call For Papers


300 Years of Freemasonry:  Its Meaning at its Founding and Today.  Masons of California


3 Responses

  1. Paul Delaney says:

    I am a great fan of The Masonic Round Table, I think you guys are doing a fantastic job. Unfortunately, due to the time difference between us (I’m in Dublin, Ireland) your YouTube broadcast is at 3am Irish time, I’m always late to the show and don’t always have time to comment. However, this particular topic “Morality” is a topic which interests me greatly so I want to ad my 2 cents worth.
    As Masons in Ireland, just like in the US, we are taught to obey the “Moral Law” and as taught to us in our first degree the moral law is to be found in the VSL. For me it is difficult to reconcile some of the “moral precepts” found in the bible with my own belief structure. I am unusual in my lodge as I’m the only non-Christian (in fact the only mason of a non-Abrahamic faith) and I’m openly gay. Yet the brethren have seen fit, to not only elect me as Worshipful Master for not 1, but 2 years and have welcomed my husband into the lodge. I will have the honour or presiding over his 3rd Degree on Saturday next.
    Morality is a very personal thing, following a code of ethics, which have been in existence for centuries may and which may not be relevant in today society (slavery anyone?), can cause conflict both in lodge and outside. The admonition to keep all personal piques outside the lodge is, in my opinion, the one rule we have which keeps some lodges working. I have no issue with brothers following the tenets of their particular faith but when they follow only parts of that faith and ignore parts which they find inconvenient, it is that hypocrisy I find unpalatable. Worse still when they force their narrow view on others. I for one follow a simpler creed or moral compass if you like, “In word or deed, do no harm”, its simple and hard but in the end, it works.
    I will end on this point when we are enjoined to “follow the laws of the state in which we reside”, I would point out that some laws unjust are and should be fought against (anyone remember the Boston Tea Party led by Freemasons). Freemasons stay aloof from the world’s problems in lodge but we are part of that world and should strive to make it better for all.

  2. Helio Da Costa says:

    Great comment, W. Bro. Delaney, but the way I see it, the VSL is an allegory, a symbol, since this volume can be the Christian Bible, the Jewish Torah, the Koran, the sayings of Baha’ullah, the Zend Avesta, etc. which may contain between themselves, contradictory views in what constitutes the “Moral Law”. Therefore, the “Moral law” is what our conscience dictates as the best way to deal with others and the world in order to build a better harmonious society and on which we can all agree. I believe that a better VSL would be the Book of Constitution to which a Lodge belongs or even better, a book with blank pages.

  3. Richard Allen says:

    Great episode. I heard the HB is a symbol of the holy scripture we each adhere to along with our belief in a supreme being. Our relationship to our brethren and Lodge is relitive. How I erect my spiritual, moral and Masonic edifice is a personal endeavor. It should not prevent me from having Masonic communication with my brethren, as long as it coincides with our obligations. Bringing into question, must that supreme being benevolent and does it exclude the malevolent (some gods are bad dudes and anti good). I think it must, even where interests might intersect, because most of our obligations lean towards tolerance and good.

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