As I See It: Morality is not ambiguous
My last column evoked an interesting response from a reader and I want to thank Terry Frovik for a well-written, well-stated response. While I disagree with some of his points, they were absent the vitriolic attacks my columns usually seem to attract.
We have a very basic disagreement on the nature of morality. I believe most Christians are not intolerant of matters that are gray. We simply believe that questions of morality do not present a multitude of options; the answers are only black or white - they involve human behavior wherein the person has a choice of what he or she will do.
If a person decides to take something that doesn't belong to him or her, he or she is a thief. That's not gray. What is open to debate is the seriousness and consequences of stealing $10 vs. $10 million.
If a person chooses to behave in a manner that is wrong, sinful and contrary to what is good for themselves and society, we have a moral duty to point that out. That's not judging the person, only their behavior. And none of us has the power to condemn them; we can only condemn their behavior.
Notwithstanding their Jewish origin and basic tenets of Christian teachings, the Ten Commandments are well-stated restrictions on behaviors that can have a detrimental effect on civilized society. You could ignore the ones that speak only about God and they would still be applicable if Joe the Butcher from the corner meat market wrote them.
The trouble starts when politics (read ambiguity) bumps into matters of morality, because politics is a process that's designed to look the other way when those in power can get something they want out of potentially immoral situations.
For example, Lincoln tolerated slavery as long as he could in his attempts to save the Union. The United States tolerated countless dictators and their corrupt, often murderous regimes as long as they claimed to be anti-communist. Politicians promise to give people as many of the things - moral or not - that they want in return for support and votes.
All three examples are rife with ambiguity in justifying the unjustifiable. In the political world - you want unrestricted abortion? - no problem. Taxpayer paid contraception? - no problem. In terms of morality? - huge problems!
If you believe life begins at conception - and all the current scientific evidence supports that conclusion - then abortion must be the taking a life that is protected under, "... the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" as stated in the Constitution. Society has the duty to protect the lives of its citizens - from natural conception to natural death.
Sadly, all Christian denominations do not believe or support this. They also avoid discussing the morality of "unnatural" practices like artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization, assisted suicide, etc.
The Catholic church has strict guidance (Canon Law) that governs who is eligible to receive its sacraments. And the church's catechism offers very detailed guidance on doctrine, faith and morals. Again, there isn't any ambiguity in its contents.
It also states that homosexuality is not in itself immoral. Sexual acts, other than those between a man and woman validly married to each other, are essentially disordered (sinful, immoral) - that includes fornication, adultery and homosexual sex. Marriage between people of the same sex is likewise immoral.
How then can anyone reasonably expect any church or religion to alter its doctrines to suit their opinions?
The current manufactured controversy over "choosing my sexual identity" is only ambiguous to those who refuse to address issues in a logical, analytical manner. I am not aware of any solid science that supports identifying a person with male genes as anything other than a male. Knowledgeable medical personnel have labeled this a mental health issue, but no one seems to pay attention.
Discrimination is an unfortunate fact in too many cases. But blaming it solely on rigid views of morality also misunderstands that tolerance implies acceptance. We should always have a full understanding of what is morally acceptable, because we have a society that always seeks to make that which is unacceptable today, tolerated the day after tomorrow.
That's the way I see it.