“There is no right and wrong!” the angry university student said loudly, storming up to our campus pro-life display.
“Is that right?” my friend Caleb said slowly. The student came to an abrupt stop, realizing, perhaps for the first time, that his worldview was, in philosophical terms, an “argument to commit suicide.”
That anecdote is illustrative of how we’ve been letting the Cultural Left get away with murder. I’m not just referring to the institutionalized destruction of life in the womb or the “mercy-killing” of the old, but also the broad cultural acceptance—including among Christians—of two stupid and dangerous ideas that have allowed the Left to dominate the cultural discussion for decades.
Christians have not been losing in the public square because we do not have the arguments to respond to the New Moral Revolution of the Cultural Left. We have been losing because we have not been making those arguments, or have not been making them articulately enough.
First, Christians are told loudly, we can’t legislate morality.
I could point out that this argument is inevitably used to justify the legality of something blatantly wicked and immoral, like abortion. Yet, I’ve heard countless Christians tell me that while they are pro-life and do believe in Christian ethics, they don’t think trying to impact public policy or bring our message to the public square is useful because “we can’t legislate our morality.”
They’re forgetting something: All laws legislate morality. All laws are put in place because of a value judgement that something should be permitted, restricted, regulated, or banned. When Christians leave the discussion, all we’re doing is ensuring that it is someone else’s code of morality that is being enshrined into law, and someone else’s values are being used as the guiding principle for governance.
If we don’t fight for the lives of pre-born children and demand legal protection for them, for example, we’re not ensuring that the government won’t legislate morality; we’re allowing those who claim that the right to destroy human life at whim exists and is moral to seize and win the day. Eventually, the government will be paying the butchers with our own tax dollars—because a New Morality has been legislated, and ours has been definitively replaced.
A very brief look at the news cycle reveals that the Cultural Left, while silencing Christians with the demand that we cease trying to “legislate our morality,” is attempting to do precisely that. When they howl that gay marriage should be legal and accepted, they are demanding this because they say it is right and good andmoral. They are stating that to deny marriage to homosexuals is discriminatory, and therefore wrong. And the solution to this, they tell us, is for the government or the courts to step in and ensure that this wrong is righted, that this injustice is corrected.
It is not that they don’t think morality should be legislated. They simply think that Christian morality should not be legislated.
Which brings me to the second argument the Left has used to silence Christians: That morality is subjective, if it even exists at all. In other words, it’s okay ifyou believe that, but that only means its right for you. Other people must remain “true to themselves” and do “what’s right for them.”
This is obviously nothing short of profound stupidity, but a brief jaunt on to any university campus will show you that the number of those who believe that morality does not exist (while simultaneously calling fracking and Christian ethics evil) is staggering. I’ve engaged in dozens of debates that went something like this:
Student: “Well, there is no morality.”
Me: “Okay. Do you think rape is wrong?”
Student: “Of course rape is wrong!”
Student (nervously): “Because…you can’t just force yourself on someone.”
Me: “Says who? You’re appealing to a moral law, which necessitates a lawgiver. Who says that is wrong?”
Student (relieved to have found an answer): “The government! It’s illegal!”
Me: “While I’m glad you’ve found your source of morality, wouldn’t you agree that laws have been wrong before? What about slavery? Segregation?”
This is to illustrate, of course, that morality cannot be subjective, or it is not morality. Right and wrong cannot be subjective, or they cease to exist. Appalling crimes like rape and murder should be illegal, because they are immoral. Christians would argue that they are immoral because God, the Lawgiver, has said they are. The Cultural Left cannot claim that banning abortion, for example, is immoral—because they cannot claim anything is immoral. Inevitably, their claims that something is or is not immoral is based on one thing: How they feel about something. (When they appeal to science, they are again being fallacious: Science, of course, can only tell us what is, not what ought to be. Science can reveal to us observable truths, but cannot provide us with correlating value judgements.)
Christians have not been losing in the public square because we do not have the arguments to respond to the New Moral Revolution of the Cultural Left. We have been losing because we have not been making those arguments, or have not been making them articulately enough. We’ve often bought the laughable lies that morality simultaneously does not exist, and cannot be legislated. Both of these lies are simply a means of keeping us from fighting for what is right in the public square. In many cases, we’ve vacated the battlefield. It’s time to engage like never before—because as we see with abortion, assisted suicide, and euthanasia, lives literally depend on it.