Monday, April 21, 2014

Asking the Wrong Question: A Reflection

The Wrong Question

I came across a headline which asked if Christians were out of step with the mainstream. I found that question to be very saddening. It indicates that for a certain portion of the population and the elites think that going along with the preferred position is more important than determining the truth of a position... because the two are not the same thing.

As I have cited many times in the past in my blog, Aristotle once defined truth as saying of what is, that it is and saying of what is not, that it is not. In other words, we need to explore the nature of a thing before accepting the mainstream view of it.

Why? Because the mainstream of a country can go very far astray in what it favors. The extreme example, of course, is the example of Nazi Germany. The Nazi Party came to power legally and achieved things that were popular -- righting perceived wrongs that came from the Treaty of Versailles. While the party did some things that made people uncomfortable, these tended to be dismissed as being less important than the perceived good. The opponents of the regime tended to be dismissed or attacked.

The point here is not to equate America with Nazi Germany (so spare me the flames). The point is to show that what the mainstream accepts is not necessarily good. Whether it is the acceptance of National Socialism or whether it is the acceptance of modern sexual morality in the West, the acceptance of things by the mainstream of a society is NOT an indication that the thing is good.

The Right Questions

So what are we to do about this? We have to start by asking the right questions. We don't start by asking whether Christians are outside of the mainstream. We start by asking whether the assumptions held by the mainstream are true. Truth must be the criterion for accepting or rejecting values.

Unfortunately, this is precisely what people fail to consider. When the cultural elites assert that those who champion the traditional understanding of marriage are "homophobic," they are making an assertion that needs to be proven and not assumed to be true. Very few Christians who understand the obligations of their faith properly actually hate the people who live in opposition to what God commands.  But instead of investigating what they believe, it's easier to attribute a motivation that makes the opponent look bad.

What Reason Tells Us

The result is a slew of logical fallacies which don't prove the point. It provides spurious reasoning to claim that boils down to, "anyone who doesn't agree with me is a bigot."

I find it ironic that the definition of bigot, "a person who is prejudiced in their views and intolerant of the opinions of others," fits the champions of tolerance much better than it fits the people who believe some behaviors are wrong.

As GK Chesterton pointed out, "It is not bigotry to be certain we are right; but it is bigotry to be unable to imagine how we might possibly have gone wrong." In other words, the bigotry doesn't exist in believing right and wrong. The bigotry comes from refusing to question whether you properly understand what you oppose.

The Dilemma

Now, if one believes in the existence of objective good and evil, it is not bigotry to refuse to accept a view deemed evil as valid -- provided that you understand the nature of the issue you reject. Nor are you hypocritical to say that a sin is wrong while still loving the person who sins.

The same cannot be said for the one who takes the position that there is no objective good and evil.  If you insist others must tolerate views they disagree with, then you must also tolerate views you disagree with. If you refuse to accept the views of those you disagree with, you are guilty of what you accuse your opponents of being: bigoted (refusing to accept different views) and hypocritical (denying there are moral absolutes while holding moral absolutes). But if you actually follow what you claim to champion, you have to tolerate people who support views you believe to be wrong. If the persecutors of Brendan Eich were truly tolerant, they would have left him to his own views and not sought to oust him.

But, on the other hand, if one sees the acceptance of abortion or homosexual acts as objectively good and believes others are morally obligated to accept this, then he or she is under the same onus of proof that he or she demands from opponents. After all, if opposing abortion is "imposing values," then so is promoting it!


Asking if someone as being "outside the mainstream" ultimately ignores the more pertinent question: Is it good to be part of the mainstream? History tells us that oftentimes it is not.

No comments:

Post a Comment