Sunday, August 7, 2011

My Dear, Honored Mother asked me to post this:

The discussion began on Facebook when my mother posted that she wanted polygamist Warren Jeffs to be put away forever.

"Jeffs, the polygamist was found guilty. Punishment sentencing coming. There is no punishment that would be appropriate for what he has done. How did a man like this get away with what he did for so long? SHOCKING!"

My mother is a liberal Seventh-day Adventist whose worldview is seeped in Christian relativism. She believes that there is no such thing as absolute truth (that we as humans can be sure of, anyway) and we all should just tolerate each other's views and be good. Sincerity of conscience is what she believes to be important in the long run. There is some merit to that way of thinking, indeed. Sincerity is a very good thing and God will be merciful to those who, by no fault of their own, sincerely believed a lie.

However, in the course of my ongoing discussion with her about Christian relativism, the following ensued (this is edited as several people other than my mother made comments) after her post about Warren Jeffs.

I responded:
Oh boy, we have a huge problem here. What do we do with clashing religious values because this is what it comes down to? Islam allows for arranged marriages between girls as young as nine and grown men. This is a cultural tradition that has been going on for centuries. The Bible allowed for polygamy....

Some early American cultures allowed marriages to girls as young as 12. If you read early American laws, you will find a slow and steady stream of laws against marriage to very young girls creep across America in the 18th century.

We have to look at this problem with more than a microscope. We have to look at it with a historical perspective and ask ourselves some very difficult questions.
America has always stood for religious freedom. But at the same time we have had our fixed "truth" upon the Judeo-Christian morals. Right now all of our values are being tested and when you remove the fixed "truth." All you have is unrestricted religious freedom that can claim polygamy, sodomy, pedophilia, bestiality, group marriages, incest anything as their religious freedom.

We must, as Americans, ask what is now our fixed mark of truth? For if it is not clearly the Judeo-Christian tradition, then we cannot impose one religious sexual preference over the other.

What do we do with all of Europe and even some parts of America where Sharia laws are being used? If we are now a pluralistic secular government, we have to take into consideration all religious beliefs--even when they severely clash with our own. That is the foundation of American religious freedom.

But, we are also a culture based upon the traditions of Christianity. Our worldview, or interpretation of the U.S. Constitution is Judeo-Christian.

If we don't figure out what our worldview is going to be in the future, it isn't going to be so easy as to say it is decided. Maybe in this one specific case--but I am speaking of a dramatic shift in our culture.

This is going to turn into a basic--who is America 101? Today we call it rape of a minor--tomorrow it is going to be called "right of sexual education of minors."
I am saying that we have as an American culture shifted our "truth" or cultural cornerstone of what used to be Jude-Christians beliefs based upon Western traditions to an Enlightened Relativism.

When you open up truth to "whatever" is the opinion of the person, basing it on their sincerity and their personal truth--then you lose the ability to have any fixed marks to say what is authoritatively and authentically wrong. Each culture claims IT is the correct one and some are willing to fight to the death over it.

We need to clearly stand up as Christians and say why Jeffs is wrong and needs to be put away forever. We need to clearly express why pedophilia is wrong. We can't go around anymore saying truth is in the eye of the beholder. Its not because it seems icky or wrong in our eyes... it is because it is wrong... we have a fixed mark as Christians and we can't rely on people's opinions or sincerity of belief. That is my point.

(comment by someone indicating that they misunderstood me as taking up for Jeffs)

Relativism is killing our culture.
I totally agree with you. I was asking a broader, philosophical question about our culture and the extreme trouble we are in when facing such questions as Jeffs. Upon what are we basing our assessment?

I was actually attempting to sound the alarm bell--we have a much, much bigger problem than Jeffs as a person. Put him away forever and let's discuss the underlying problem of our culture and its future. That is where I was going....

Christian relativism as a position is untenable. Christian relativism is going to be the ultimate fall of our society because it does not have a fixed mark of truth and when you base a society's morals upon people's religious feelings--no matter HOW sincere--then in the end, the mark moves--Voila! Christian relativism.

Upon what does my we base anger at Jeffs? It is upon the Christian worldview that pedophile and polygamy is sinful and wrong.

Our culture is in a mighty struggle over a Christian worldview and a secular worldview. What are we going to be? If we don't figure that out--as a society--and we don't stand up really firmly and soon--we are about to default into the secular humanistic side.
So, I am agreeing with you. I just want my mother to see that she cannot be a relativist and claim Jeffs should be hung.

My Mother responded:

"I really appreciate your comments on the pedophile Jeffs. I found them well-organized and very analytical. Thank you for your insights. I think you should copy them and put them on your blog."

In the end, my mother did not understand what I was saying. So I wrote back:

Okay, I am going to try to get at this another way.

America claims to be a place of religious tolerance. It claims to be a place where anyone can come and practice their beliefs, follow their sincere conscience. America claims to be a place of separation of church and state.

Now, what do we do when someone comes here--into our Christian worldview and say, "Whew! Glad I am here in the good ol' US of A. I sincerely believe it is super okay with God that I am a polygamist and marry little girls." ?? (And they, with a proud patriotic glance at the flag sing God Bless America, wiping from the corner of their eyes a tear of gratitude for religious freedom.)

What do we do with non-christian world views that come here and claim religious freedom? This is surely not a hypothetical problem. We are being bombarded with this daily.

When we claim a separation of church and state-- what our Deist founding fathers of the Enlightenment era really meant was that in Protestant America--our worldview will hold supreme. They were speaking from a Judeo-Christian worldview that saw certain things as obvious and intrinsically true and right. "Self-evident" is the words they used.

So we actually have come to a great crisis of foundations. Now that different non-Christian world views are finding their way here en masse (or are locally grown)-- expecting religious freedom from a totally different perspective--where sodomy is not against their conscience, polygamy isn't against their conscience, abortion isn't against their conscience--Where do we draw the line?

Do we revert back to the foundation of : All get an equal religious right to do whatever they wish. Every sincere person gets to follow their conscience.


Do we revert back to the foundation of: There are self-evident truths based on Judeo-Christian values of justice, morality, marriage, murder, fidelity...

What I see are people burying their head, putting their fingers in their ears, and humming loudly. No one (hardly) wants to face the crisis of foundations we are at.

Is America a secular state where all religious views--all sincere consciences are allowed to practice moral and religious freedom as they see fit?


Is America a Christian state where traditional Judeo-Christian values will remain and we live under a worldview that certain things are intrinsically evil and intrinsically good whether or not we personally agree and no matter how sincere the believer?

So, I have posted our discussion. My dearest Mother is the one who instilled in me immovable truths of honestly, justice, compassion. She is the human cornerstone of all my thoughts and analysis and Christian worldview. The summation of it all is that you, oh brilliant and honorable mother, seared into each of your six children an unquenchable drive to discover what is true.

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