Because I have a religious and conservative mind I am condemned because I suffer from every trendy phobia possible. In short I am a bigot beyond the pale. My character is suspect and my convictions irrelevant. I can’t possibly be permitted a voice in the public square. It’s not that the content of what I have to say is ever precisely examined. It’s just that I might offend someone who will cry, “unsafe”.
In the space of a couple of decades the language of public debate has changed its character and function. A range of terms in common use don’t actually describe anything to live by, rather they are unjustified abstractions that promise Utopia. Their power is in what they appear to promise rather than in their meaning. “Social justice “would have to be one of the most obvious shibboleths closely followed by “equality” and a contemporary spin on “tolerance” which really means affirmation. “Diversity and inclusion” more accurately reflect uniformity and exclusion because they exclude the critic of diversity dogma. I’ll come back to “social justice”.
All of the terms above echo deconstruction and condemnation rather than construction and wholeness. They are based on one particular prevailing view of the world. Human beings are victims of some entrenched “hegemonic” power rather than sinners; creatures who have fallen short of even their own standards. The struggle intrinsic to the human condition is not about learning to be faithful, humble, patient, gracious, hopeful, forgiving, generous, and loving; about the development of a man’s or woman’s character.
Life’s purpose is about breaking free from those who have power over us. The struggle is political; not moral. The rebel is hero. Such a hero presumes s/he knows what to destroy without having any idea at all of what will follow. S/he lusts after freedom without realising that s/he is leaving it behind. Providing everything is done in the name of equality and the hegemonic, (that word again) responsibilities of civil society destroyed, Utopia will in the nicest possible way of course, embrace us.
Civil society and its institutions are the very skeleton of freedom our progressive hero would grind to dust because s/he is wantonly ignorant of her/his heritage. S/he simply does not understand the civilising power of the intergenerational family and the institutions which surround it. S/he wants a society where family, marriage, tradition, mediating institutions between the individual and the state, legitimate hierarchical order, religion, especially Christianity and law sensitive to responsibility and duty, are abolished. If one may paraphrase a little of Shakespeare, the baby of human rights beats the nurse of common-law. And, just in case, something from the past should slip in unnoticed and arouse doubt in our hero’s mind any suggestion of transcendent religion must be excluded from the public square.
Our hero might well reject God, but nevertheless s/he has faith in the new religion of utopian equality and the “Goddess of Choice”. Any consideration of an either/or world is forbidden and must be kept silent by invective or swelling hate speech law. That there are only two ways to live; bathing in the light of God’s loving sovereignty or hiding in the darkness from God’s sovereign love, cannot possibly be allowed to surface. The progressive has declared that human liberation is to be found in the right and power of the self to choose. It is not, as I and nearly everyone was taught before well…let’s say…1968, in our release from the power of sin.
Consequently justice, which is essentially about equality, must always be envisaged as “social justice”; as much about equal outcomes as it is about equal opportunity. Justice, meaning everyone getting what he or she deserves, is too intimately connected to the sovereign God who demands that we love Him without reservation and our neighbour as one loves him or herself. The threatening truth of God’s just sovereignty is denied, but it is always there, behind the equality facade, disorientating the fragile human psyche in its denial. That’s why we can’t have God in the public square or Parliament.
There never has been a time in the whole of human history when so much conflicting data has been available on the nature of what it means to be human. Consequently, that freedom, which is promised to sinners by God should they repent and turn to him is nearly always misunderstood. Freedom we are constantly told is about being able to “live the dream”; to do what we want. The irony should be salutary.
The modern pagan in his or her hubris has forgotten the line from the ancient pagan dramatist Sophocles. “Those whom the gods would destroy they first make mad.” Or alternatively, evil appears as good in the minds of those the gods lead to destruction. When one becomes his or her own God, madness always follows, or to be a little more contemporary, mental health decays. One should not be surprised that the default characteristic of the progressive mind is to hold two conflicting ideas in the mind at once and believe both of them. Most recently the advocates of transgenderism have achieved this end with a zealousness so uninformed they must enforce it on the rest of us.
In spite of almost two centuries of the authority of “science” claimed by the dogma of Darwinian evolution we now find ourselves strangely disconnected from the authority of science and profoundly confused about our origin and destiny. The apparent victory of the decaying religion of natural selection over the biblical story of creation in our schools is not a consequence of gathering knowledge; rather an ignorance of both.
We have been made dizzy by a new spin on old-fashioned dualism. On the one hand we are autonomous creatures, but on the other victims of government or some other demeaning “hegemonic” power; the patriarchy perhaps. Personal identity rooted only in the subjective, must be sustained by a growing number of human rights. The joy of discovered rather than invented identity, and the consequent freedom enjoyed in community, created and sustained by the transcendent God, is a foreign country that can’t possibly be explored.
The progressive is not Prometheus. Rather a very small man or woman with delusions of grandeur. The horizon is found only within the self. It has to be, because there is no transcendent spiritual truth outside the enclosed circumference of the narcissist vision. In the end the progressive is nothing more than a narcissist without the sympathy of the gods to make the fairy-tale palatable.
Now, to the point. It is a remarkable for the progressive to claim that advocacy for the natural family is not in the public interest. It is particularly remarkable when it is obvious to the disinterested observer that Western civil society, by any measure, is going through an extended period of disintegration. That he or she, the progressive, is the instigator of that disintegration doesn’t seem to compute.
The cultural heritage of any society is passed on almost entirely through the family. One could say that as the family goes, so too does society. Right now in 2019, mental health is a vexatious issue. Young people confront a range of problems of such intensity unknown in several generations. They include, the increasing use of drugs, issues around sexual identity and behaviour, suicide, parental relationships, moral confidence and spiritual ennui.
The historical concept of family in Western Culture is both Classical (Aristotelian1 rather than Platonic) and Biblical. Indeed there is a universal inter-generational concept of family that varies little from culture to culture. Post-modern relativism and its infertile child, doctrinaire diversity, have added little to parental understanding other than confuse them and undermine their confidence.
Since Aristotle, Western Civilisation has defined virtue2 as a determination to behave in the right manner and as a mean between extremes of deficiency and excess, which are vices. The apostle Peter has this to say about virtue. Make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love3. Unfortunately Narcissis never had the pleasure of meeting Peter.
We learn virtue primarily in the family through trial and error, habit and practice rather than through the uniformity of the state education system ignorant of its own history. It instructs but seldom reasons. As the family disintegrates so too does the habit and practice of virtue. The soft and necessary pliability of democracy’s arteries and veins begin to suffer from arteriosclerosis.
1The Aristotelian conceptualization of family is a multigenerational institution of mutual responsibility, defined in part through story around developing virtue and helping members find their purpose.
2 Virtue should be distinguished from the modern “values”. When we use values as a noun rather than a verb it does not change its subjectivity. Unlike virtue, which can be seen in action, values cannot. They are esoteric and personal, certainly not universal. The historian Gertrude Himmelfarb in her seminal text “The Demoralisation of Society” deals exhaustively with this issue.
3 2 Peter I:5-7.