This article causes me to reflect on the serious misuse of the phrase "separation of church and state." The constitution upholds our right to practice our religion WHEREVER we may be and protects us from the interference of government in our religious worship. Those who wish to pray in school have the right to do so. Those who wish to be excused have the right to do so. BUT--when we seek to erase from public life every whisper of the love of God and to proclaim that there are no universal principles of morality, we are destined to reap the same destruction of past civilizations.
After seeing the near vicious conflict that the prophet Joseph Smith III (1832 - 1914) had with our own blessed LDS church over plural marriage (D&C 132: 1 - 66 versus 1 Timothy 3: 1 - 13, Titus 1: 5 - 9), I found that it is best to leave the ultimate judging of the morality and ethics of others to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (Judah) (1 B.C. - 33 A.D.):
John 8: 1 - 11
Leviticus 20: 10 - 21
Deuteronomy 22: 10 - 23
Moral relativism has challenges in competing with rules that are based in the Bible, but for the last sixty years its main ally in the USA has been a body of judges who have overruled the statutes and even the Constitutional standards enacted by the moral consensus of the American people, expressed through our legislatures, and imposed their own anarchic theory that upholding that inherited moral culture is per se invalid because it does not tolerate moral relativism. That is precisely the announced rationale of the Supreme Court in creating from thin air new "constitutional rights" to kill one's own unborn child, to engage in promiscuous sexual relationships, and now to have government enforce that new moral standard against those whose conscience remains grounded in the inherited morality that was the basis of our laws only four decades ago.
laverl09 gets right to the heart of the matter by asking, "WHO gets to make the RULES that tell me where my freedom ends? Is it only the most politically influential man or should God's rules also not be included in there somewhere?"
It used to be that the one with the biggest army made the rules or whose religion had the most power. These often ignored the wishes of the people. Democracy ws an improvement, but the rights of the minority were often ignored and trampled. Benjamin Franklin is alleged to have said that democracy is 3 wolves and a sheep voting on what to eat for lunch. Democracy isn't great is you are the sheep. The best way is through a constitutional republic where the rights of all are protected and all are treated equally under the law. This is what our divinely inspired constitution does. In order to maximize agency, individual freedom must also be maximized. This is confirmed in D&C 101. Should we have the freedom to punch someone in the nose? Obviously not. Freedom is not anarchy. our freedoms should only be restricted to acts that cause objective/demonstratable harm to others. We can't murder, assault, rape, rob, swindle, extort, defraud, etc... Being offended by the acts or opinions of others is not being harmed. You do NOT have a right to NOT be offended by others.
Under the above scenario, people have maximum freedom and should also be held responsible for any objective harm their acts cause others.
Where does religion/tradition fit into this? that is left to the individual to decide how subjective religious beliefs will modify their own behaviors within the freedom society gives them. Bro. Hancock seems to bemoan this. I would like to ask him and others who agree with him which religion should hold sway. I am sure that he would be less than thrilled if Sharia Law was given some sort of government recognition. There are many Muslims in Dearborn, MI. Many billboards are in Arabic. Should they be allowed to vote in Sharia Law within their city limits? If not, why should society at large adopt Judeo-Christians values via the force of law? Keep in mind the wolf/sheep analogy.
We LDS and other Christians may want to have the law reflect our values. We may want to have Christian prayer and scripture reading in the schools. The problem is that when we advocate that, we become as the wolves infringing upon the minority sheep. We LDS have been the sheep in the past. We should not want to be wolves.
Let's maximize agency by maximizing individual freedom and eschew forcing people to eschew SUBJECTIVELY bad behaviors as was done to our ancestors 125 years ago.
To David H
"But let me note that there is a huge and momentous step from the celebration of human freedom or moral agency to the emancipation of the human will from any authoritative structure of meaning."...Anarchism and tyranny are one step away from this relativism! Thank Goodness, for a foundation for freedom in the truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Thank you for a very enjoyable and clarifying article. I have long perceived this "moral relativism" but was unable to clearly describe it to others. To differentiate, between classical liberalism and the new radical liberalism.
It worries me and shows me even more the necessity to "hold to the iron rod" and to listen to our prophets.
Thank you again.
This whole second article boils down to the author bemoaning the fact that subjective morality is no longer being imposed by the force of law. Those complaining are always the ones whose subjective morality is no longer being enforced. We LDS were victimized 125 years ago by those whose subjective morality was enforced by law. Why haven't we learned from that experience? What does the Pearl of Great Price say about using force to exact subjective righteousness from others?
Very well written. It explains so much that has been a puzzle for so long. It all makes sense now. Ah yes the 60's and 70's. So many unfortunate changes are linked to those times. It makes me sad to look back.
I'm still unconvinced that "moral relativism" is really at hand in "New Liberalism." Now I will concede that there are some who can arguably be called moral relativists, but they are extremely few in number and their ideas haven't actually gained much traction in society. Honest to goodness moral relativism certainly isn't reflected in the ideas of modern-day US liberals. Consider this following: Isn't it a given that different societies have different interpretations of what is right and wrong and that they develop laws that reflect predominant social mores? What exactly is "traditional morality?" Are you suggesting that humans across space and time agreed about what was moral and what wasn't until the rise of these so-called "New Liberals?" The Greeks and the Jews in Jesus' time certainly didn't. Neither did the early Christians in Paul's time. In fact many rank-and-file LDS don't agree on what is moral and what isn't. Consider the fact that many LDS people in good standing, including high ranking leaders, differ over the question of whether or not lawfully married men and women can engage in activity in the bedroom with each other that is immoral. This was a huge question around the time of the Monica Lewinsky affair. I recall local leaderships asking rather invasive questions about activity in the bedroom with one's spouse during temple recommend interviews and holding firesides to inform husbands and wives of what they could and couldn't do with each other. But, alas, the brethren appear to have adopted a policy of don't ask don't tell with regard to intimacy practices between spouses. The same goes for birth control. Should I then say that the LDS church is moralistically relativist simply because it tolerates a variety of different approaches to family planning and intimacy? Simply because someone has a different interpretation of what is moral and what is not than you doesn't make them a moral relativist.
Well received article. It clears up the difference between the liberalism of the Founding Fathers and the "New" version which lacks accountability and foundation.
Again, you have summarized the essence of "progressive liberalism." While such thought gives the appearance of "freedom," it is indeed the manner in which one becomes entrapped in the wrappings of the entity who desires nothing but our separation from a infinitely loving and just Father in Heaven. So long as we fall for the lies of false progress, false compassion and "equality," we can never be truly the sovereign individuals that God intends us to be. Rather, we will be trapped in a false religion that ultimately leads to the conclusion that there as those that are superior in thought and heart who must replace our relationship with the Eternal God of Truth and Light. We have come to a time where such casual thought cannot be afforded. We must look to the truth and light that our Heavenly Father has provided, for it is the only way that we can truly progress.
Email (will not be published)
Daily news, articles, videos and podcasts sent straight to your inbox.