by Mike Pyatt
In 1941, a Northeastern newspaper editor characterized Presidents Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln as “lighthouses in a foggy world.” It’s more than symbolism. Should we be shocked when our “moral light” has been extinguished in most of our public and private institutions of learning, inflicting relativism upon generations of vulnerable students? It spread like fire in a tinder box. But more pernicious. Without wading too deeply into a theological quagmire, it’s safe to say that our country is, and has been for decades, under siege by this secularist plague, permeating every facet of our lives. James Fenimore Cooper, best known for, The Last of the Mohicans, and The Deer Slayer, in his 1838, The American Democrat, exhorted us, “In Democracies there is a besetting disposition to make publick opinion stronger than the law.” We’ve seen public opinion driven draconian “laws” that had no constitutional basis, find its way through the Supreme Court.
This “fog” isn’t from London. It penetrates every corner of America on which we tread. Multiple generations navigated this fog, yet missed all the baleful signposts on their journey. Now we’re combating symptoms. One may recall, the lighthouse was to steer mariners, while in the dark of night, or dense fog, away from cliffs, land, shorelines, coral reefs, shallow shoals, or other potential hazards. Not only at night, it had to be visible in the day, performing a similar function of warning of unseen reefs, and other underwater dangers such as rocks. It also assisted in aerial navigation, and safe entry into harbor. A beacon for good.
Catholic journalist of yesteryear, Dorothy Day, defined a good society as “one that makes it easy for you to be good.” As co-belligerents, Evangelicals agree we’re in a contemporary moral landscape that’s inimical to practicing Biblical morality. It has been radically altered by moral relativism. Absent solid moral underpinnings, were unable to swim against the prevailing moral tide. Many church pulpits are secularized and decadently worldly.
Today the lighthouse of moral principles is obscured by the fog of moral relativism. That’s why G.K. Chesterton observed, “Morality is always dreadfully complicated to a man who has lost all his principles.” Naysayer and scoffer dismiss such a notion as passe. That’s because the unvarnished truth of absolutes escape their conniving, convoluted thinking. The 24/7 media drumbeat is the same. Secular elitist reject such erstwhile notions of monogamy, connubial bliss, chaste, salutary living, or any hint of eternity beyond this world. Hollywood and TV sitcoms set the plumb line for modern comportment, rejecting encumbering absolutes. Colorado recently elected Democrat Jared Polis as the state’s next openly homosexual governor; a state already in a “fog” from escalating marijuana commerce.
We’ve heard the polemics, rejecting the idea of absolutes. “It causes psychological guilt,”they protest, “One shouldn’t have to bear such burdens.” Self-esteem is the thing. If liars, tyrants, terrorists, adulterers, or pedophiles “felt better,” logically, they’ll be better persons than if they felt shamed. Was Hitler’s problem a dearth of self-esteem? Some argue it’s just a cultural difference. Those who’re “enlightened” claim that fornication’s an intimate form of “social networking.” Who’s to say? They deny one can know anything with certitude. One may deny the existence of Hell; it doesn’t prove there is no such place, or that none will go there. Nazis forced genocide. Absent an objective basis for good or evil, like the French Revolution, the mob rules. We’ve a hint of what that world looks like when justice, honesty, courage, and self-control are denigrated as reprehensible.
The hue and cry is “No restraints.” Who decides? C.S. Lewis, in The Poison of Subjectivism, stated relativism, “will certainly end our species and damn our souls.” He understood that moral relativism obscures the clear teachings of Jesus Christ about salvation, eliminates His law, and trivializes repentance, and undermines Biblical authority. The handmaidens of death, who’ve denied the rights of the unborn, maintaining their freedom to do so, is based on a cavalier attitude, “It’s my own body,” that’s now shifted to “women’s health,” fomented by the lawless 1973, Supreme Court, Roe v. Wade decision. If freedom is indeed free, it must be free to all. Who’s free to create socially accepted rules of conduct, speech, clothing, social contracts, election laws, or charity? Must we jettison eons of tradition and long standing edifices that forbade murder, rape, theft, treason, or genocide? Is everyone free to do what seems right in their own eyes? What chaos would ensue? We’ve had a sneak preview of those consequences for nearly four decades. It’s a malison to our existence.
Recent “legal intrusions” from the courts, mandating same sex marriage, masquerading as “tolerance.” What does that mean? Tolerance of ideas? Tolerance of behavior? Unbridled tolerance? Taken to its logical conclusion, what about unhindered tolerance in constructing of a building? Wouldn’t excessive deviation from building codes spell imminent disaster? Tolerating the brutal dismemberment of the unborn? What about the Progressive’s intolerance, suggesting removal of the homophobic today? Perhaps homosexuals tomorrow? The same absolutism that most homosexuals scorn, because it’s not tolerant of their behavior, is their only protection against intolerance of their persons. It’s apparent the Left’s tolerance is a narrow, one way street. Such latitudinarianism is a toxic elixir.
Moral relativism haunt us daily. It engages students to cheat who never intended to study. It entices spouses to break marriage vows with its beckoning call. It beguilingly entices suicide, as an end to pain and confusion to the most vulnerable. Peter, Paul and Mary sang, Blowing In the Wind, composed by Bob Dylan, in 1962. Its refrain, “The answer my friend, is blowin’ in the wind, The answer is blowin’ in the wind.” Absent absolutes, the answer’s always in flux and elusive. Awaiting the next trend or philosophy to blow across the plains of our existence. Moral relativism makes grandiose claims, but delivers only a vacuous existence, and inevitable mortal wound. It has no soul. Truth isn’t momentary. It’s too incongruous to contemplate. Will we falter? What do you think?
Mike Pyatt’s a Natrona County resident. His email’s firstname.lastname@example.org