Sunday 5 May 2019

Christians need to stop surrending the moral high ground to the Left - the example of Same Sex Marriage

Because the Left are in power, their ideology is mainstream and so they choose the ground of debate.

The provides a very powerful advantage, which is that while the reality is that they are using the Global Bureaucracy coercively to implement totalitarian Leftism; they can present their policies idealistically, as if occupying the moral high ground.

To argue from Christian premises is impossible, because the assumptions are not shared. This means that Christians often get manoeuvred into arguing against Leftist policies on grounds of expediency, on the grounds that the policy is ineffective, counter productive - on the grounds such that the policy will reduce wealth or increase poverty; reduce freedom or increase tyranny; will impair happiness or increase human suffering.

But when Christians argue for the Christian perspective using mainstream secular criteria of 'bad consequences'; this mode of argument itself has bad consequences. 

For instance, Same Sex Marriage was proposed by the Left on idealistic grounds, but usually opposed by Christians on the grounds that it was inexpedient... that SSM would lead to bad outcomes for children and for society.

By bad outcomes - the Christians, here, meant that SSM would have adverse psychological and physical consequences of children; that children would ('on average', probably...) suffer impairments to their happiness and health.

Although the arguments were correct; these are the utilitarian arguments of a social policy analyst - not Christian arguments! Hence they were counterproductive - as well as ineffective. 

Or 'Traditional' marriage was defended by Christians as an Institution, not just a personal decision.

That the Institution was built-into society - with implications for law. That we needed the marriage Institution in order to prevent worse outcomes... But the cultural context is that all Institutions - including marriage - have deep, intractable, problems of legitimacy.

We we live in a world in which institutional authority has been crumbling for several generations. So defending marriage as an institution, is to defend marriage as part of a world-view that has been crumbling with increasing rapidity since the middle 1960s.

Unsurprisingly, the Institution argument was ineffective. But worse - it reinforced an idea that the individual's judgment, and his essential life, should be subordinated to external 'social requirements'... a deeply anti-Christian perspective.

By contrast; in secular society and within Christian churches; the sexual revolution agenda is proposed on idealistic grounds! Proposed as A Good Thing in and of itself - because SSM is more-Equal, and Equality is Good.

'Good' as such, and whatever the outcome...

In effect, the advocates say that SSM is a good thing, and damn the consequences! They don't 'argue', but instead they state that 'we' ought to introduce SSM because it is Good; because it is (supposedly) More Christian (because 'Love'...) - and without regard for 'what happens next'.

So the anti-Christian radicals have claimed the higher moral ground; and the real Christians have - by arguing on the secular ground - undermined their own moral authority.

And what the average person sees here is Leftists being idealistic and moral; while Christians are arguing that there will be bad materialist consequences.

So what should real Christians do? More exactly - since we do not get to choose the context - what can we do, and what can't we do?

Well, Christians cannot argue.

Christians can only - like the Leftists - state our convictions.

So, the opposition to SSM would need to be stated in terms of the positive, Christian convictions that SSM violates. In a form such as 'We believe XYZ, therefore oppose SSM'.

If there is going to be any 'argument' it will need to be about XYZ - which is about fundamental assumptions, which is a metaphysical discussion - and any such discourse ought to benefit Christians, since mainstream modern Leftism denies the reality of metaphysics; and denies that there are fundamental assumptions that need to be chosen.

Any discussion that shows that mainstream materialist Leftism is itself based on assumptions, is a plus. 

So, Christians must stop acting like pragmatists or social scientists; and start revealing their idealism... Must stop arguing, and start stating their convictions.


William Wildblood said...

As you say, if you try to argue against leftist ideas from within the leftist worldview, as Christians have been doing for some time now,you are clearly going to lose as you have already ceded the framework within which the argument takes place. It must always come down to metaphysics or first principles.

dearieme said...

I think highly of marriage as an institution but there's no sign that Jesus did. "Abandon your families and follow me" was the thrust of some of the stuff he's reported as saying. Whether it was wives and children he wanted abandoned, or ageing parents, it's hardly family-friendly, is it?

Desert Rat said...

As I recall, at the beginning of the "debate" over SSM there were Christians who did argue from biblical principles and were mostly ignored though when they were engaged they were shouted down as "bible thumpers", bigots, haters, superstitious rubes, troglodytes, etc. In short order these people were simply removed from the public arena and never mentioned again. Virtually all on the left pushed back against such arguments as did most on the right and the few who would give such views an airing quickly fell in to line and dropped it.

Bruce Charlton said...

@d - If, like me, you regard the Fourth Gospel as our primary and most authoritative source then the story of Jesus's life is nearly all about his marriage, family, in-laws etc.

The verses you refer-to I regard as false attributions without authority (or simply misunderstood) by my understanding.

Bruce Charlton said...

@DR - You misunderstand. I am Not saying saying that the true arguments would have been 'more effective' - that would be to argue from expediency, which is exactly wrong.

We should simply state the truth because it is true; and give our real reasons - not try to find arguments that we suppose non-Christians would share.

The problem with the arguments that Christians did use is not that they did not work (that was inevitable, we can suppose that truth has zero traction in a world where it is officialy true that people can change sexes for real) - the problem was that this type of argument made Christians morally worse than Leftists!

Bruce Charlton said...

@William - I find that I need to keep reminding myself about this, because it is so easy to fall into arguing from within the leftist worldview; trying to appear 'reasonable' and not a crazy Christian... It is a temptation that needs to be overcome.

Francis Berger said...

I succumb to this temptation quite often, both in writing and speaking. It's something I certainly need to pause and think about going forward.

Dave said...

Anyone who believes that gays can't turn straight but men can turn into women is so devoid of reason that there's no point arguing with them. Declare your faith, live your faith, and offer what refuge you can to those seeking to escape the madness. After the Left disappears itself into mass graves, build churches next door and pray for their horribly misguided souls.
Build museums too, like in Cambodia, to warn future generations what Leftism makes people do to each other.

Michael Dyer said...

@Bruce Charlton and dearieme, but mostly dearieme

The truth is a lot simpler and I believe dearieme is being facetious. Whenever it comes to following Jesus, you are obligated to abandon anything in preference to that. Your children? Follow Jesus. Your wife? Your parents? Follow Jesus.

It's about ordered love. Jesus comes first, even your family cannot compare. Now to take from this the idea of Jesus not being family friendly, or to search for different translations, or doubt the canonicity of the other gospels is not at all necessary. The Bible is a sword and it's easy to cut yourself with it.