Throughout most of human history the principle that all human beings are morally equal is largely unique to the Jewish and Christian traditions. This blog, "The Moral Christian", explores the clash between those whose lives are ordered according to the transcendent teachings of God as expressed in the Hebrew scriptures and Christian Gospels and those for whom no transcendent moral authority exists

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Duck Dynasty -- Still Rolling Along


Great article today by Rosslyn Smith on the American Thinker blog. Here's the thesis statement
Those who most loudly celebrate the gay lifestyle seem to go into a Victorian swoon whenever anyone even obliquely mentions actual gay sex practices such as anal sex.
Get it? American culture is largely shielded from the reality of male homosexual behavior and Smith's article helps explains why.

Monday, December 23, 2013

More Pajama Boy

Victor Davis Hanson is sick and tired of the people who identify with Pajama Boy's Nation. He uses the recent (and ongoing) vilification of Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson to remind us of what it meanst to be morally centered. What is preferable, he asks,
To see a three-quarters naked Miley Cyrus on national television stick a huge foam finger toward the anus of one of her performers or to read that a bearded reality star in overalls finds vaginal sex preferable to anal sex — and then tells us why?
Takers? Anyone?

For Professor Hanson there seem to be two types of people who watch these shows. They are...
... those who still admire muscular strength and the earthy ability to make a living from nature (and not work for the Bureau of Labor Statistics or the local Department of Motor Vehicles), and a smaller percentage who find these aborigines odd, but also oddly compelling in their reminder that the people like themselves who run our country could not sharpen a chain saw, change the oil in their car, or unplug their own sewer line. This latter group is curious about the uncouth people who can do these things.

Of President Obama, the quintessential pajama boy, he writes

He is an arugula-eating man of the people who tries to bowl only during election season. Michelle rags on the 1%, but still hits Costa del Sol and Aspen. Obamacare for us; for congressional staffers and insiders something quite different. A Nobel Prize and a half a billion dollars for guru Al Gore; and dumping Current TV on a fossil-fuelled, anti-Semitic authoritarian Middle Eastern regime [in order] to fund more good work of our green Elmer Gantry.  Amnesty for illegal aliens, but private academies for liberal kids far from the ensuing chaos of the public schools.  Pajama Boys are fiercely liberal so that they can fiercely avoid the people they so champion and are so afraid to live among.

You really ought to read the whole article.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Infanticide Lives

Jenny had been undergoing six years of fertility treatments. After six years, success! She was the mother of twins and now seeks to abort one of them, according to an article in the New York Times by Ruth Padawer.

Jenny is emblematic of the "me" generation. A generation deemed geniuses every time they passed a test. Children who were awarded trophies every time they caught a ball. These were children of the 80s and 90s -- congratulated for their mere existence. Jenny, of course, is of a generation whose parents worried about the image-damaging effects of competition and the physical risk of ... teeter-totters. Hers is a generation whose most desired achievement was the "healthy self-image". Hers is a generation who live with their parents till they are in their mid- to late twenties -- about the same age that their grandfathers were being killed in Normandy and whose grandmothers welded struts on B17 bombers. Jenny's is the generation that elevates comfort above sacrifice.

Now, she lay on the obstrician's examination table about to undergo a reduction -- a "me" euphemism for aborting one of her twins because two more children, in addition to the ones she already had, would threaten the comfort and well-being of her and her family. Morally suspect? Not according to her.  As Jenny says, "If I had conceived these twins naturally, I wouldn't have reduced this pregnancy, because you feel like if there's a natural order, then you don't want to disturb it."

Here's a telling paragraph from Ms. Padawer's peice:
What is it about terminating half a twin pregnancy that seems more controversial than reducing triplets to twins or aborting a single fetus? After all, the math’s the same either way: one fewer fetus. Perhaps it’s because twin reduction (unlike abortion) involves selecting one fetus over another, when either one is equally wanted. Perhaps it’s our culture’s idealized notion of twins as lifelong soul mates, two halves of one whole. Or perhaps it’s because the desire for more choices conflicts with our discomfort about meddling with ever more aspects of reproduction.
I've been writing a lot lately on the underlying moral structure of human society. One aspect of that structure is how we define the basic nature of the human person. Jenny's choice to abort one of her unborn babies is morally acceptable to her and her generation -- at least intellectually -- because for her, the exercise of this choice bears little consequence to her self-esteem. She is, after all, basically a good, kind, and decent person.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Victor Davis Hanson -- Paleolithic Liberalism

Secular liberalism is largely based on the model, most famously expounded by Rousseau, that mankind is inherently good. Bad behavior, according to Rousseau, arises from the corrupting influence of nature. As those who misbehave, like a four-year old,  explain, "it's not my fault".

I've dealt with this at some length previously but as Victor Davis Hanson explains, attributing misbehavior to economic conditions (another example of Rousseau's noble savage view) leads to exactly these problems. This quote from his article is spot on:
As we saw last week in Britain and in some American cities, liberal redistributionism makes far worse the innate problems it was hailed to solve
What innate problems might he be referring to? It isn't hard to guess. Those who are of the view that their lacking is not their fault are going to rage against those external influences. Of course, it's a misplace rage.

The Riots in Great Britain

In Genesis 8:21, God vows never again to destroy mankind even though mankind is inherently evil. 
מִנְּעֻרָיו
רַע
הָאָדָם
לֵב
יֵצֶר
כִּי
...for the inclination of mankind is evil from its youth...
This text illuminates one of the bedrock values of the Judeo-Christian view of humanity. In this particular text, God instructs the reader that mankind is inherently evil. In other words, the evil that people do is part of their nature. So, what are the moral implications of this understanding?

The principal implication is that people are accountable for the conduct of their lives.  In recognition of this understanding, Judeo-Christian societies establish the kinds of civil institutions necessary to enforce individual accountability. For example, in societies that adhere to this value, whether Judeo-Christian or otherwise, justice seeks to correct the individual.

Individual accountability is a hallmark of Judeo-Christian societies, of which America is one and Europe once was. Sadly, Rousseau's vision of mankind has largely displaced Judeo-Christian values in Europe. In Rousseau's world mankind is inherently good but is corrupted by external influences. When a society's view mankind is as fundamentally good, then social problems -- from impolite behavior to serious crime -- can not be attributed to human, moral failing but to external influences. In such a society individuals are not held accountable.

Having summarized the distinctions between American and European values vis accountability, reflect on this exerpt from an Aug 14 editorial in the London Telegraph:
Over the past week we have witnessed the culmination of the liberal experiment. The experiment attested that two parents don't matter; that welfare, rather than work, cures poverty; you tolerate "minor crime"; you turn a blind eye to celebrity drug use; you allow children to leave school without worthwhile skills; you say there's no difference between right and wrong. Well now we've seen the results.

The modern Labour Party's answer to every social question is to open the taxpayers' cheque books. We've tested that world view to the point of destruction. The welfare state has never been bigger but nor have our social problems. Today's historically high tax burden has forced parents to spend more and more hours outside the home, just to make ends meet.

The Left is always ready to attack hyper-capitalism for the ways in which it can erode community bonds, but it looks the other way when it comes to thinking about the ways in which the hyper-state can devour social capital. Labour has become the most materialist and consumerist of Britain's two largest parties. Whereas Big Society Conservatives are immersed in the importance of relationship-building, within families and within communities, it is the Left that constantly emphasises the right to personal fulfilment.

It reveres "lifestyle choices" as though the kind of home in which a child is raised is somehow equivalent to whether you get your weekly groceries from Morrisons or Asda. Any political movement that is relaxed about the structure of the family will produce the amoral youths that rioted last week.
The assumption upon which this author bases his dismay is that European families still view moral accountability as an individual responsibility. His assumption is manifestly not true. This generation of European parents  have been taught that their children are not to blame for their misbehavior. The fault lies in their teachers, their neighbors, their peers, the economy, pop-culture, and so forth. Little wonder their little darlings go on rampages so that they might "show the rich that we can do what we want".

Saturday, August 13, 2011

PART I: Michelle Bachmann and Ephesians 5:21

During the Republican debate Thursday evening, Michelle Bachmann had this exchange with Byron York (Washington Examiner):

York:
[In 2006 you remarked that your]  "husband said you should study for a degree in tax law. You said you hated the idea. And then you explained, 'But the Lord said, 'Be submissive. Wives, you are to be submissive to your husbands. As president, would you be submissive to your husband?"

Bachmann:
"Marcus and I will be married for 33 years this September 10. I'm in love with him. I'm so proud of him. What submission means to us, it means respect. I respect my husband. He's a wonderful godly man and great father. He respects me as his wife; that's how we operate our marriage," she continued. "We respect each other; we love each other. I've been so grateful we've been able to build a home together. We have wonderful children and 20 foster children. We've built a business and life together, and I'm very proud of him."

She was probably referring to Ephod 5:21-22. Here's how the NRS renders these verses:

(21)Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ. (22) Wives, be subject to your husbands as you are to the LORD.

In the NLT, NIV, NAS, NET, and the NKJ  the word in question is rendered as submit as, for example, in the NIV's version

(21) Submit to one another out of reverence for the Christ. (22) Wives, submit to your husbands as to the LORD.

In Ephesians 5, the word in question is ὑποτασσω  -- is literally translated as  "subjecting yourselves" (ASIDE: In verse 5:22 the Greek word in question does not appear in some Greek manuscripts. However, most (all?) Bible translators believe the word is implied and add it to the text anyway). Further, in 1 Peter 2:18, slaves are admonished to ὑποτασσω to their masters – even when their masters are cruel and inhumane. Finally, 1 Cor 14:34 seems just as harsh in that women (not just wives) are to keep silent in the churches "for they are not permitted to speak, but let them subject themselves, just as the Law also says.

I have two questions for you:  Is Ms. Bachmann correct -- would ὑποτασσω be better translated as 'respect' rather than 'submit'? Is there a meaningful difference between 'respect' and 'submit' in these texts?

I'll provide my own thoughts in a subsequent post.

Now, go and study.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

DNA Components Found In Ancient Meteorites

I’m not quite sure why this is newsworthy except, perhaps, to rile the waters in which creationists and atheists swim. However, I call your attention to this paragraph from the story:

For decades the scientific community had hypothesized that a chemical process inside comets and meteorites could create elements of DNA, or Deoxyribonucleic acid. The ladder-like molecule contains genetic “blueprints” needed to create life and living organisms. It’s made up of four different molecules, called nucleobases, which lock together rung-by-rung in the now-iconic double-helix shape. (my emphasis)

The claim that DNA is necessary to create life is objectively wrong. Scientists do not know the criteria (chemical, physical, or biological) necessary to create life. The importance of nucleic acids for life lies in its ability to mediate reproduction, not create life. How life came into being? No one knows.

Nor is this a minor point. Both sides of the origin-of-life debate often conflate reproduction with creation and this surely obscures the controversy. At the moment, science and scientists do not understand how life came into being.

Truth in advertising: I am a firm believer in evolution by natural selection (ENS, aka Darwinian evolution). But when discussing the merits of ENS, anti-creationists must first acknowledge this essential truth.