We who believe in affirming civilization’s basic building blocks — for instance, the Ten Commandments — sometimes feel like we’re losing, bigtime. The new morality, after all, undermines them: Thou Shalt Go Ahead and Kill the Unborn and Elderly; Thou Shalt Redefine Adultery as Thou Wish; Thou Shalt Dishonor Thy God With Thy H.R. Budget.
So it’s good to read an article like Victor Davis Hanson’s “Postmodern Prudes” and realize that we are not being bested after all. He catalogs some of the strange contradictions of modern morality. Here is my paraphrase of some of Hanson’s examples:
It made me think of some others.
And of course …
Anyway, you get the drift. Hanson draws his own conclusions from this new morality. But I draw an additional conclusion: This can’t last. An ideology is something to take seriously: An uncompromising worldview that pulls beliefs and actions into its orbit with inexorable force. Environmentalism. Pacifism. Feminism.
But the new morality is only environmentalist until it wants to drive a car; it is only concerned about water pollution until hormonal contraceptives are the pollutant.
The new morality is for peace and domestic civil liberties only when they are threatened by a Texan.
The new morality is feminist except when it comes to pornographers and Beyonce.
The truth is, there is no new morality … just a collection of untethered beliefs “tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine,” to quote Ratzinger quoting Ephesians on the way to decrying “the dictatorship of relativism.”
The problem with such a morality is that it is very vulnerable: Like a teen-ager, the new morality rushes to affirm whatever happens to be “cool” at the moment. It can easily be hijacked and used for evil by a popular figure.
Its vulnerability is also an opportunity. I can think of literally dozens of people who I personally know who shook their heads at the absurdity of it all and left the new morality behind for firmer ground.
Let us help more people do so.