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NewsReal Sunday: Is There An Objective Standard of Right and Wrong? Yes, But We Can — and Will — Change It As God Draws Us Closer To Him

Posted on March 14 2010 9:00 am
David Swindle is the Managing Editor of NewsReal Blog and the Associate Editor of FrontPage Magazine. Follow him on Twitter here
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This past week at NewsReal Blog we saw an intriguing debate between Suzanne Venker and Jeanette Pryor. Suzanne had chosen to challenge our Movement’s social conservatives by positing that advocating abstinence until marriage was wrongheaded. Jeanette responded that this was a form of relativism and would lead to moral anarchy as universal standards of Right and Wrong were ignored.

And I was pulling my hair out because I was too busy managing the publication during the especially busy days of the week that I did not have time to jump in.

Jeanette chose a curious metaphor to try and demonstrate the folly of moral relativism: cannibalism. She parodied Suzanne’s Premarital Sex: Does It Have to Be All or Nothing? with her own witty headline, Cannibalism: Does It Have to Be All Or Nothing?

Well, Jeanette, actually, there are times when cannibalism is the entirely moral thing to do. Consider the Donner Party and “Alive” scenarios. If you’re trapped and the only nourishment available to feed your five children is the dead body of a friend would you not employ your French cooking skills with a meat you would NEVER utilize under other circumstances? Or would you ignore your motherly instincts to protect the life of your offspring?

Further, Jeanette notes at the end of her post,

In a world of moral relativism, requiring “love” for responsible pre-marital sex, while certainly well intended by Venker, makes as much sense as saying you can murder someone, as long as you really hate them.

But murder is the moral choice sometimes, is it not? In war, it’s moral to commit murder, isn’t it? Watch “Inglourious Basterds” and tell me that murdering the leaders of Nazi Germany is the immoral thing to do.

There is rarely a universal moral standard about the correct behavior we should embrace. We can even find very rare instances in which incest is the moral thing to do. Recall the story of Lot and his two daughters from Genesis? (Good luck finding another pro-incest scenario.)

What we see here is that what is Right and what is Wrong depends on the nature of the situation. Is that “relativism”? I don’t think so. I think that’s an accurate understanding of Nature. “Relativism” would be individual people deciding to do whatever they want regardless of the situation.

How then can we avoid the moral anarchy that Jeanette and other traditionalists rightfully fear? We have to understand where our morality comes from and what its purpose is.

So lets consider Suzanne’s example — premarital sex. Why is it that throughout history sex before marriage has been immoral? Simple: because for most of human history the result of sex was children. And in order to continue our species’ survival and further development children needed to be cared for and raised by two parents. A child raised by two committed parents is infinitely better off than one raised by a single mother. Nature knows this. And we follow Natural Law by embracing this truth. This morality is an evolutionary adaptation which allows the perpetuation of our species.

But what happened on the premarital sex question? Nature changed itself. (We as human beings are a part of nature. And we cannot do anything that Nature does not allow and does not ultimately want us to do.) With the invention of contraception we changed our nature. Thus our morality has changed.

It’s immoral today for a 13-year-old to get married and have a child. But it was not in Jesus’ time. Yet it is in our time because the nature of our world is different from that of Mary and Joseph. Jeanette, what does a universal system of morality have to say about this?

Everything that is “sinful” or “immoral” is as such because those behaviors are contrary to the laws of nature — or the nature at the time. And engaging in them causes us as individuals and society to drift further away from becoming God. (That’s what “sin” is — separation from God.) Why is murder wrong? Because it is not in the interest of our species’ survival for people to be randomly killing each other. Why is rape wrong? Because it’s an act that violates the natural law that the best genes must be passed along to the next generation. Women have to be able to choose the best males to bear their children and rape violates that law of nature. Why is homosexuality immoral? Or rather, why was homosexuality immoral? Because the desert communities of thousands of years ago could not afford to waste sex on pleasure. They needed as many offspring as possible. In equally primitive societies on tropical islands such sexual mores did not develop because they were not necessary for survival — just as they are not now in 21st century America.

Our morality is based on Natural Law. What is moral is a reflection of how Nature has made us and the situation Nature has dropped us into. And in order for us to continue to evolve we must grasp this. We must understand who we are and how Nature has shaped us. The Founding Fathers did this when they wrote the Constitution. They created a system of laws and government which understands human nature. And because of that the United States of America has been the dominant force in the world, responsible for tremendous advancements in our species.

Through understanding our human nature and responding according to it we will continue this advancement. We will continue on the plan that God has developed for us: our continued growth in sophistication, knowledge, and power until the day comes in which the differences between the vulgar and the divine are indistinguishable. (As we gain more knowledge and technology continues to explode this will develop further.) At that time we will truly be one with God, one with the universe, and one with humanity. “Heaven” is the spiritual metaphor for this end goal.

I’m not anticipating that mankind will reach that point anytime soon, but we’re certainly on the right track.

So in the mean time, we must continue to work to fight those who are unable to wait for this natural evolution and who instead demand utopia now, totally ignoring the realities that nature has instilled in us at the genetic level.

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