The Law of Mutuality

There is an ethic of helping others in Christianity.

Yet, because the point of Christianity is to align one’s will with the will of the Good, and since considerations on the good include considerations about oneself, it would not be surprising if God (i.e., the Good) would want solutions to various problems that improve the state of all people involved.

This, in short, is the basic idea behind a Christian view of what can be called ‘the law of mutuality’, or in more common parlance, ‘win-win’ outcomes.

(It is not a coincidence that it was a Mormon Christian, Stephen Covey, who popularized the term ‘win-win’. Covey also coined the terms ‘abundance mentality’ and ‘scarcity mindset’, both of which are related to the considerations on whether win-win outcomes are possible in a given situation.)

The basic impulse in a given situation as far as ethics goes, from a Christian perspective, is to ask the question ‘What would be good for everyone in this situation?’ or ‘What is the will of the good in this situation?’

Although this detaches oneself from egoism, often it will lead to a better result for oneself than a purely egoistic method of reasoning, almost paradoxically. In short, it has a greater chance of leading to ‘virtuous circles’ of action – an upward spiral of cooperative behaviour that is better in the long run than more egoistic alternatives (even if one does not get the best result for oneself in the immediate situation).

Of course – not always! Yet, it seems Christians often talk about their actions as if it will be – long run – self-sacrificing. Most of the time, this isn’t the case. It is not suffering that is the point, rather it is the law of mutuality.

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