Thursday, January 17, 2013

Public Morals

How far should we as Christians go in trying to change the laws of the land to fit with our understanding of justice? And how do we go about it? One of the problems we face here is that the current culture's ideas of justice vary widely from the traditional Christian ideas of justice. In fact, the difference in philosophical views is frequently so great that we can end up standing on opposite sides of the divide, shouting slogans at each other and not communicating at all. A big part of the problem here is that both sides engage in circular reasoning. As a result, they may confirm those who are already on their side and do little to convince the other.

There are deep issues involved which are hard to put into soundbites. Take the issue of abortion. Both sides tend to assume the basic issue, which is: Is the fetus a person, making abortion murder? Which leads to the question: What is a human being, and why is it wrong to kill one? The Biblical answer is, we are made in the image of God and are valuable to Him. But we cannot expect the secular person to accept that because the Bible says it without first convincing them of the reliability of the Bible. Often from a purely secular point of view we are seen as simply some type of cosmic accident, and it becomes highly subjective whether we are valuable and why it is wrong to kill us. The best way to convince someone is, of course, to convince them of the truth of Christianity or at least that there is a God. But there are arguments that can be made from a secular point of view, such as pointing out the line is arbitrary and showing the implications of classifying various types of human beings as non-persons. But it is not an easy slam-dunk that can be done in a quick slogan.

There is also the idea that God intended sexuality to be exercised within a committed relationship between a man and a woman to provide a context for reproduction and for raising future members of the human race. With this is the question of whether there is a purpose for identifiable gender roles. But it makes a difference if you see intentionality involved or whether you see these principles as just based on a biological accident that can be cast aside the moment they prove inconvenient. There are pragmatic arguments that can be used here. The welfare of and responsibility for children. Marriage also demonstrates the concept of unity in diversity in the basic unit of  human society. But it depends on drawing on some idea of underlying purpose and responsibility over immediate impulse.

None of these things are simple and easy things to convince people of, especially given that we are fighting the direction our society is drifting. Therefore, we need to be prepared for that long-haul of changing the underlying attitudes. But simple sloganeering will not work. 

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