Saturday, May 02, 2009

More on the Previous Post

Let's go back to what I was saying about ethical minimalism. If you are a minimalist then your view on morality and propriety could be summed up with "No harm, no foul" and you believe that whatever does not harm anyone is okay. Meanwhile, much of that which would be called "deceit," "malice," or "sexual immorality" in the Bible is assumed today not to harm anyone; so it is assumed in turn that many things which God has proscribed are in fact a-ok.

Of course, minimalism becomes questionable once one stops to consider problem cases such as those of joyriders and adulterers. After all, suppose that someone stole your car while you were asleep, took it for a ride, but brought it back the next day with an oil change, brand new tires, etc. It's nice of the thief who stole your car to bring your car back in great condition, but you don't want to say that the thief had a right to take the car without permission. So upon reflection, most of us will agree that minimalism isn't really correct or believable. Many of us in America today are probably minimalists nonetheless, but the belief is suspect.

Meanwhile, there is another variety of ethics which people hold within Christian social circles today, one which is almost certainly on display in previous Twitter comments from Miley Cyrus and company. Many of today's pseudo-Christian or Christian youth today are folks who have already received the label and description "moralists." And what is a moralism? In this case it's basically an ethical paradigm which is formed from vague, largely-incomplete knowledge of the Synoptic Gospels and from an impressionistic, knee-jerk contemplation of questions of morality.

Now, the full extent of far too many people's knowledge of Christian theology today more or less corresponds with what used to be a mere summary of Christian theology: God exists, He loves ya, and if you believe in Jesus you'll get to live in heaven when you die. Don't ask anyone to list the Ten Commandments; they can't do it. Don't ask anyone to prove to you with the Scriptures that Christ died without sin; plenty of professed Christians don't even believe that Christ did not sin. However, the gist (or supposed gist) of Christianity: oh, they know that one. And the gist of the Bible's view on ethical matters: oh, they know that one too. And the gist is that you're supposed "to love people" like Christ loved people.

And what does it mean "to love people"? This is a good question given, for example, that so many church-goers or professed Christians are quick to publicly apologize to sinners or unbelievers on account of Christians who would dare stand up to say something less than flattering about homosexuality. Yet there are these cases where someone will stand and say, "Well, I'm a Christian. And the Bible says we're supposed to love people [ergo, you shouldn't say anything less than flattering about lifestyle-homosexuals]"; we see this in the Twitter comments and elsewhere. Consequently, moralism ends up being something of a gospel of self-esteem: That which flatters the ego is good, and that which hurts anyone's feelings or is unflattering is bad.

At the end of the day, all of this is a matter of biblical illiteracy and contra-biblical rebellion. Moreover, as the influence of Christianity wanes in the Western world, and as the word "Christian" becomes increasingly uninformative on account of the large volume of heretical, deviant, and sub-biblical beliefs masquerading as things biblical, we will see history repeat itself. The conclusion of the book of Judges:

In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.

And those were not very good days, were they?

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