Recently, I have been asked why I do not just admit my “views” on any number of sexual issues are doomed. My short response is that morality always seems doomed, but prevails.
Fortunately, “my” views are not based on my preference, desires, or convenience.
When discussing the slavery issue, Abraham Lincoln argued that the heart of the issue was morality. Defenders of slavery believed it to be moral and opponents immoral.
One view or the other must prevail.
Slavery could not be resolved by normal political processes, because otherwise good men disagreed about it. Except for his views on slavery and the practice of slavery, a Robert E. Lee might be morally better than many abolitionists. Was the Civil War a new American Revolution? It was if the “rights to property” and not the rights of people were in question.
Morality was at the heart of the formation of the Republican Party: created in part to oppose “twin pillars of barbarism” slavery and polygamy. Republican politicians had no problem appealing to basic Christian morality, buttressed by natural law, in attacking both institutions. Republicans succeeded in getting both slavery and polygamy banned over determined opposition.
Of course, those willing to defend polygamy or slavery also appealed to Christian morality and natural law in making their arguments. Both issues were slow to find resolution, because able defenders existed on both sides, but the thrust of Christina morality in all places and all times argued for sexual moderation and the equality before God of all humankind.
America embraced sexual moderation as an ideal, enforced by law, and outlawed race based slavery. Of course, in practice Americans failed to live up to both ideals, but nobody rejected the dream for the failure in reality.
And this is why the attempt to broaden the definition of marriage or to declare immoral behavior moral will not soon succeed in the United States. There is nothing new about attempts to declare sexual behaviors forbidden by Christian morality as “good.” Our forefathers and mothers, of all parties, would have called the new morality the old immorality. Christian society was formed out the rejection of moral decadence.
Sex outside of marriage is wrong.
Science cannot help determined matters of morality. Science can tell us what “is,” but it cannot tell us what we should aspire to be. Science could tell Confederates about slavery and about slaves, but it could not tell them if slavery was wrong. It could falsify factual claims made about African-Americans, as it did, but it could not tell Jefferson Davis a thing about morality.
Even in a just cause, you cannot get an “ought” from “is” and science only reports what “is.”
When a man wants to cheat on his wife or a young adult wants to have sexual relations outside of marriage, he or she is making a moral choice.
Nor can “reason” alone decide the case. Reason is good and powerful as a tool. Nobody should behave unreasonably. But reason needs propositions on which to be reasonable! Moral reasoning cannot provide its own first principles and so though all should be reasonable, it is not enough to be reasonable.
On what basis should morality be determined? If a question of behavior is raised, all humans must ask: “By what standard will we judge?”
For example: When a person wants to look at porn is he right or wrong? How will we decide?
He is morally wrong says Christian morality and no amount of public opinion changes that fact.
Now of course our culture may seek a new moral base from the Jewish and Christian morality that has served the Republic well, but human experience so far is not promising. Only in Western Europe has “secularism” been able to avoid bloody totalitarian rule and Western Europe has only been at the project since World War II. We will see, but Americans should ask if they wish to look like the EU.
Pope Benedict is right to worry about the European future. It isn’t obvious that Western Europeans can reproduce or defend themselves.
This is not an argument that Christian morality, and the natural law that supports it, is good, but a suggestion that no better alternative is present. It is not a public argument that has been lost, because the argument has hardly begun. Morality that says what we might wish to do is “good,” has an easier time of it at first than morality that argues against personal pleasure.
Marketing tells us to buy and to fulfill our desires. Such training has not left it easy to preach moderation in any area!
In any case, against all odds millions of young Americans adults retain Christian, traditional Western ideals. Most of the world views America as becoming decadent, as any time spent outside of Western enclaves quickly demonstrates. Few places have combined the full Republican values: moderation and political liberty, but modern Republicans in America rarely do either. The amazing thing is not that in our present media environment and educational monopoly must young adults accept what they are taught, but that millions reject it despite never seeing themselves or a favorable image of themselves in any mainstream media.
Republicans do not make moral arguments, but speak in bromides or retreat to economic arguments. The immorality of greed or oppressing the poor is also a Christian value, but too often the GOP does not argue for small government approaches to either.
If the Supreme Court says we must condone immorality, we will refuse. If we ignored the Roman Empire and the Soviet Union, we are not about to be intimidated by John Roberts!
We are, of course, told that most of the “youth” in America oppose us and it is certain that all of our behaviors are poor compared to the standards of the past. Porn is rampant, sex before marriage a the new normal. Yet the poor, often the first to show the results of social experiments, are not prospering as a result. The old immorality looks to be harming the poor already and nobody is replacing the emptying churches in the ghetto or rural areas.
Nor does it help to point out areas where based on Christian morality we surpass our grandparents . . . one can improve in one area while decaying in another! I can applaud racial progress without applauding the sexual revolution.
Millions of young adults, airbrushed out of media, support traditional Christian ideals and strive with their parents and grandparents to live up to them. They are not freaks and they will not be silent. If only one-quarter of young adults support Christian sexual morality, that would be millions who join the booming Chinese, Korean, African, and Russian church. Globally, the Church is growing younger, browner, and more traditional.
I look forward to African missionaries reaching out the to the hollowed out urban areas and the ruined valley’s of Appalachia with the Christian gospel.
Meanwhile, Americans will see how our rich fare with their multiple marriages, no fault divorce, porn driven marriages, and decoupling of procreation from sexuality in time. A crisis will come and a good test of a morality is how it fares.
Meanwhile a nation that can tolerate the Amish can surely tolerate businesses, churches, homes, and clubs based on the morality all Americans shared, including the present President, until very recently. To force all businesses, churches, homes, and social organizations to be the same is to attempt to shut off the conversation. Let’s see how states do long term that maintain the old values . . . and how the states do long term that adopt the new. Since the trendy states inherit more of the cultural resources of the old American republican values, they certainly get a good start!
So what to do meantime?
We will keep pressing for our view of morality in the Republic, even if lose tomorrow, because our perspective is over thousands of years of experience and not derived from even an aggregate of polls. We will be open, as any reasonable person must be, to contrary evidence to the truth of Christianity or to a better basis for morality, but we will not base any change in our views to our own desires. We will remember that we have many allies ranging from ancients like Plato to most of the world’s non-Christians! Where we gain political power through the ballot box, we will remember that small government best protects others and not all evils must be illegal.
Treating others as we wish to be treated, we will not be foolish enough to impose our morals on areas that have rejected them. We will leave the spiritual dead to bury their own dead. Most f all we will love God and strive for holiness, not just temporal happiness.
We will oppose vile laws in places like Uganda that destroy civil liberty in the name of morality: doing immoral and dangerous deeds in the name of morality. We fail our own ideals after all . . . and must be open about it, no more closets ever, but must use our failure to drive repentance. We will value chastity, singleness, and moderation without the equally heretical notion that sex is “evil” or “dirty.” We must love our enemies and recognize that no human is our real enemy: our battle is as much as internal against the world, the flesh, and the devil as it is external.
These issues and our traditional views will no more die than a booming Amish population disappeared or was refuted with the introduction of the iPhone 5! Leave us alone with one state or region and we will prevail as Christians always do, persecute us and we will be purified.
There is a reason Jesus told us not to be afraid!
If we are morally “old fashioned,” then we will see if we are right, as the Amish were in their rejection of rampant consumerism or thoughtless despoiling of the environment. The point is not that the Amish are always right, they are not in the Christian mainstream on some issues, but that if left alone Christian morality will build burgeoning communities.
Right does not always make might, as the Christians in Syria are learning, but right prevails in the end. The most important moral issues are not these, but they are the Christian morals most often attacked. Americans keep assuming most Christian moral teaching, seven though we keep failing it.
But it is still rare to be attacked for advocating the Golden Rule!
A few hundred years from now, if Christ does not return to end history, Christianity will still be battling, but with new takes on the old immorality. Why? The problem is in our hearts . . . and each generation will need new hearts. I need a new heart to love justice, mercy, and goodness.
Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.