Several weeks ago I heard a sermon by Dr. Preston Bradley, the beloved pastor (now emeritus) of The Peoples Church of Chicago. He discussed this very subject and in conclusion quoted Dr. Harry Emerson Fosdick's six-point test for deciding right from wrong. I asked Dr. Bradley if he would send me his distilled version, and he did.
1. Does the course of action you plan to follow seem logical and reasonable? Never mind what anyone else has to say. Does it makes sense to you? If it does, it is probably right.
2. Does it pass the test of sportsmanship? In other words, if everyone followed this same course of action, would the results be beneficial for all?
3. Where will your plan of action lead? How will it affect others? What will it do to you?
4. Will you think well of yourself when you look at what you have done?
5. Try to separate yourself from the problem. Pretend, for one moment, it is the problem of the person you most admire. Ask yourself how that person would handle it.
6. Hold up the final decision to the glaring light of publicity. Would you want your family and friends to know what you have done? The decisions we make in the hope that no one will find out are usually wrong.
Essential Steps for Ethical Problem-Solving, NASW Office of Ethics and Professional Review. next