About moral choices
The more left-wing your are, the more permissive you are and the less religious you are. The more right-wing you are, the more conservative you are; probably you are more religious.
- Thomas Cardinal Winning, Roman Catholic Primate of Scotland, in a BBC interview, October 1996
In an address last year in Charlottetown, P.E.I., Kathleen Howes of the Catholics for Free Choice organization argued that abortion can be an ethical choice. The Roman Catholic Church, Ms. Howes said, is wrong not to trust women, who are moral beings, to make that choice.
Ms. Howes said many other things in her speech, but her assertion that women are essentially moral beings speaks volumes, capturing the essence of the dysfunctional philosophical assumptions underlying not only the pro-abortion movement, but the entire left-liberal-humanist world view that dominates our culture and public policy in the 1990s.
Ms. Howes is, of course, correct that women (and men) are moral beings, in the sense that all of us are obliged daily to make moral decisions and choices. As Carl Jung put it, nothing can free us from the torment of ethical decision-making. However, Ms. Howes's philosophical error lies in her assumption that morality - the tendency to make right and ethical moral choices - is inherent in human beings.
"We need to get the word out that anti-choice religious activists don't have a pipeline to God," Ms. Howes declaimed to her Charlottetown audience. "When it comes to morality, a pro-choice position demonstrates more care and concern for women, families, and children." In this statement, Ms. Howes placed her own subjective moral evaluations, and those of people who agree with her, above the moral teachings of the Church she claims commitment to, above the Bible, above the Sixth Commandment of God, above 5,000 years of Judeo-Christian moral tradition, above even the Hippocratic Oath that has governed the practice of Western medicine for millennia.
She asserted that as a moral being, she has the sovereign right to subjectively decide what is morally adequate and what is not. Such a claim is incompatible with Christianity. We do indeed have God-given free will to make moral choices, but there is no guarantee that we will choose good rather than evil.
One of the most basic Christian principles is that human beings are sinful and not necessarily moral. Thus, they are often more likely to make immoral choices than moral ones, especially if the former serve perceived self-interest and the latter involve inconvenience. Our only completely reliable guide to what is truly moral comes from God, not from our own sinful will and finite powers of judgment. Our only hope of behaving morally on a reasonably consistent basis is through the grace of God and in adherence to His moral laws. It is oxymoronic to say: "I am a Christian, but I believe the Church's teaching is false and the Bible is full of errors."
Liberal humanism, despite the self-congratulatory lip service it pays to altruism, to concern for women, families, and children, is essentially a selfish creed. When you make a god of yourself, your wishes and your desires, the well-being of others is subordinated and the meaning and purpose of life becomes defined mainly through personal pleasure and-or self-satisfaction. Religion and ethics are redefined to accommodate one's desired self-image, rather than being objective standards and ideals one aspires to and works toward.
Whatever the liberal humanist wants to do becomes right and ethical. Liberal humanism trusts in human ability to create an earthly paradise through social, economic, educational, and technological progress. A garden of earthly delights can be indulged in without guilt or inhibition, once humanity has liberated itself from superstition and patriarchy.
The liberal humanism that now dominates most Western churches represents the temporal triumph of a spirit that sees itself as superior to religion, that wants to purge the church of all that is "superstitious," and to substitute sentimental symbolism for the spiritual substance of faith and sacrament.
This Brave New Church dedicates itself to celebrating the human spirit, and its god is the
image of absolute human freedom; its creed the Gospel of Humanity; its liturgy an invitation for
celebrants to celebrate themselves as the people of God; and its standard of virtue an ethic of
choice, subjective feeling, sentimental feelgood-ism, and indiscriminate tolerance of everything
save for traditional Christianity's claim to absolute authority as the only truly moral way of
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