The Dangerous Moral Morass You Don’t Have to Step On To

In south Louisiana the rabbit hunting is spectacular. You would have to be a pretty lousy shot not to bag your limit. The problem is you’re hunting at times on top of bogs. In the swamp, these are floating masses of dead vegetation. You think they are part of the land mass that you have beached your boat on, but they are not. You feel like you are walking on soft, spongy ground that you might sink into a boot length or more, but you’re not. You’re walking on water, and your next step could be through a loose place in the matted vegetation and down you will go. This is where we are with easy divorce, living together, and gay marriage. Always keep these three together because these have been our steps out on to the current moral morass.

What keeps so many Christians thinking they have to walk on this floating mass of faithless morals is the following syllogism. Thesis 1) What is believed to be moral differs from culture to culture.  Number 1 is true, therefore Thesis 2) is also true: What is moral will differ from culture to culture and from age to age.   People have defended tectonic shift in morals. With either “When in Rome…” or “Hey it’s the 21st century!” See? Different places or different times have differing morals.

What you haven’t noticed when you buy into this line of thinking is that where you thought you were stepping on to a solid land mass in the first thesis, you were really stepping on to a floating bog. There is a suppressed premise behind that first thesis which you automatically buy into when you accept the stated one. What comes before Thesis 1 and is assumed in that statement is: What is moral depends on what is believed to be moral.

Here’s the tricky part. No one believes that unspoken assumption who doesn’t already believe Thesis 2 is true. That means Thesis 2 doesn’t flow from Thesis 1 at all. It rests on the unspoken assumption that what is moral depends on what is believed to be moral. Without stating that unspoken assumption you beg the question, i.e. you force people –  under color of a logical syllogism – to say that it goes without saying morals will differ from culture to culture from age to age. It is unreasonable to think otherwise.

Make them state the unspoken assumption they are beginning with. Thesis 1) What is moral depends on what is believed to be moral; therefore, Thesis 2) follows: What is believed to be moral differs from culture to culture; therefore, Thesis 3 follows: What is moral will differ from culture to culture and from age to age.

Christianity has always denied Thesis 1, so Theses 2 and 3 aren’t accepted. What is moral is not based on the shifting opinions of men or majority vote or new scientific discoveries. When you accept that unspoken premise you’ve stepped out on to a floating bog, and you won’t be hunting rabbits. Lying and deceiving spirits are hunting you.

Author’s Disclosure: I found the above on a scrap of paper dated 1999. It is in my writing, but I’m sure I got it from someone else. I don’t know whom. I say this in case you’re thinking: “Wow that’s good.” I think so too, but I didn’t notice this on my own.

 

 

 

About Rev. Paul R. Harris

Ordained pastor of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod
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