Green Room

The “dictatorship of moral relativism”

posted at 8:23 am on February 21, 2013 by

Why would anyone call moral relativism a “dictatorship”?  Fr. Dwight Longenecker explains in just a few paragraphs why a society without a coherent code of moral truth will eventually require a strongman to govern it:

Beneath all of this is the underlying tyranny of relativism. We dare not “judge” other actions because we have been taught that there is no such thing as right or wrong. We have been taught to believer that it is right to be wrong, or at least that we should have the right to be wrong, and not only have the right to be wrong, but to impose that right to be wrong on everyone else. In other words, you must not only allow me to be wrong, but you must say that my wrong is not only my right, but that my wrong is right.

If the preceding paragraph made you think twice and read thrice, then I have achieved my purpose, for the world of moral relativism is a world of double think and double talk where nothing means anything and anything can mean nothing. Morality is reduced to “you say po-TAY- to and I say po-TAH-to. Let’s call the whole thing off.” And it is “off” way off, and not only way off, but way out, and if way out, then let us hope it is on it’s way out, for a world of moral relativism is dangerous. Deadly dangerous.

It is deadly dangerous because when there are not moral absolutes the state decides what is right and wrong, and when the state decides what is wrong, the rulers of that state will invariably decide that what is right is what is best for them, and what is best for them is that which consolidates their wealth and their power. When the state decides what is right and wrong, and has the power to enforce what they decide is right and wrong, they will do so.

Furthermore, when moral relativism reigns it is not long before chaos and anarchy prevail. (It’s a logical consequence–if there is no right and wrong you may do as you wish) and when anarchy and chaos prevail the state has the reason and the obligation to establish order, and among an anarchic population that order can only be established by force.

Be sure to follow the link to see what prompted this explanation, but as Fr. Dwight writes, it could have been any cultural dispute at the moment.  The disputes are just the symptoms, and Fr. Dwight expertly assesses why we should be much more concerned about the underlying cause.

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It’s an interesting article. One day prior to the election I was discussing social issues and scifi shows with one of our lab interns. She was about to finish her stint at our lab and just wanted to talk. Really she was trying to butter up one of the “Lab Doctors”, me, in the hopes of getting a recommendation but, that’s all part of the game for the interns. She was extremely liberal in her views and hated, her words, conservatives for their views on homosexuals and abortion. As I said we were also discussing scifi shows and one of her favorites was “Torchwood” a BBC scifi about alien hunters. The hero of the show was Captain Jack who was from the 51st century and another planet. Although he looked human he wasn’t. One of the things about him was that he was hype-sexual in that he would have sex or relationships with pretty much any being. She like that aspect of the show because she felt it was very progressive in it’s views towards homosexuality and relationships. I asked her if she had seen “ShowTimes” version of the series. She said she started watching it but that she stopped because it really upset her because of what they did to “Captain Jack”. What ST did was to pretty graphically show Jack in a homosexual relationship and she was really put off seeing two men doing the nasty so to speak. The good Fr. in the article says what she experienced. She is all hot on support of gays and gay relationships right up to the point of seeing what it is all about. When faced with reality she is disgusted and shies away from the “truth” of the practice. Talks with her as well as other interns over the last few years is giving me a really good idea of how the shows are brainwashing our kids into the new morality. A new morality that the kids dislike but have little choice in rejecting if they want to live in this society created by the left.

Dr. Frank Enstine on February 21, 2013 at 9:02 AM

My bad.

Talks with her as well as other interns over the last few years is giving me a really good idea of how the shows are brainwashing our kids into the new morality.

Shows should have been schools

Preview is my friend, preview is my friend, preview is my friend……

Dr. Frank Enstine on February 21, 2013 at 9:05 AM

The moral absolutes at the very base of our society should be:

Respect others’ feelings. (Keep your dirty rap in your headphones and make sure no one else can see that strip dance video on your phone.)

Respect others’ property. (Including their money. Taxing them to pay for enabling others’ laziness is not respecting others’ money.)

Do no harm to anyone. (Including the unborn.)

Do not hold anyone captive. (Unless you’re the police and you need to detain someone committing a criminal act.)

You’re free to practice your religion and your personal morality, and you’re free to do whatever you want to yourself or a consenting partner, as long as you follow the above four rules.

TMOverbeck on February 21, 2013 at 9:05 AM

“The moral absolutes at the very base of our society should be”

What is the source of these “moreal absolutes” you speak of and why should anyone consider themselves morally obligated to hold or respect them?

tommyboy on February 21, 2013 at 9:14 AM

TMOverbeck on February 21, 2013 at 9:05 AM

I have a different set of principles, and mine are better.

tom daschle concerned on February 21, 2013 at 9:18 AM

What is the source of these “moreal absolutes” you speak of and why should anyone consider themselves morally obligated to hold or respect them?

tommyboy on February 21, 2013 at 9:14 AM

If you need a source, a good one would be “On Liberty” by John Stuart Mill. But I’m just putting together a moral code that most sensible people could possibly agree on.

I have a different set of principles, and mine are better.

tom daschle concerned on February 21, 2013 at 9:18 AM

And in an ideal society, you would be more than free to practice those principles and be a role model for others. However, if something or some practice conflicts with your principles, but I am perfectly able to handle it in the privacy of my own home without harming anyone, that’s my right to do it. I’m not against stringent regulation, just against outright bans.

TMOverbeck on February 21, 2013 at 9:37 AM

And why not keep it illegal and let the black market do its thing? Four reasons:

1) Corrupt cops who get on a power trip and use illegal contraband as an excuse to harass innocent people.
2) Corrupt politicians who can gain connections to the illegal stuff, thus generating a system similar to Cuba or China.
3) The organized crime and thuggery that’s at the heart of black market enforcement.
4) The fact that only an invasive police state can eradicate a black market and keep everyone in order at this point.

TMOverbeck on February 21, 2013 at 9:42 AM

Too funny

tom daschle concerned on February 21, 2013 at 9:49 AM

I’ve often thought that the disintegration of society’s moral compass explains the apparent acceptance of lying. If not for some religious proscription, what exactly is wrong with lying if it enables some end that is perceived as good or necessary?

Our president seems to embody this. He lies constantly and blatantly in order to further his agenda. And for some reason, a lot of people don’t care.

AcidReflux on February 21, 2013 at 9:53 AM

Be sure to follow the link to see what prompted this explanation, but as Fr. Dwight writes, it could have been any cultural dispute at the moment.

. in case anyone is curious,he’s prompted by gay marriage. He also thinks fellatio is morally wrong.

red_herring on February 21, 2013 at 10:02 AM

If you need a source, a good one would be “On Liberty” by John Stuart Mill. But I’m just putting together a moral code that most sensible people could possibly agree on.

Why should I care what MIll thinks or what the most “sensible people” (whatever that means in the context of ethics) could agree on? If there is no transcendent foundation for morality then my only obligation is to maximize my personal experince of the very short life I have, however possible. As such the feelings, rights or sufferings of others are immaterial. The big fish eat the little fish. Without a transcendent foundation, there are only two moral commandments in life:

1. Do as thou wilt; and
2. don’t get caught (ie. avoid negative reinforcement)

tommyboy on February 21, 2013 at 10:10 AM

The most important business in this Nation–or any other nation, for that matter-is raising and training children. If those children have the proper environment at home, and educationally, very, very few of them ever turn out wrong. I don’t think we put enough stress on the necessity of implanting in the child’s mind the moral code under which we live.

The fundamental basis of this Nation’s law was given to Moses on the Mount. The fundamental basis of our Bill of Rights comes from the teachings which we get from Exodus and St. Matthew, from Isaiah and St. Paul. I don’t think we emphasize that enough these days.

If we don’t have the proper fundamental moral background, we will finally wind up with a totalitarian government which does not believe in rights for anybody except the state.

- President Harry S. Truman
February 15, 1950

ITguy on February 21, 2013 at 10:16 AM

Respect others’ feelings. (Keep your dirty rap in your headphones and make sure no one else can see that strip dance video on your phone.)

TMOverbeck on February 21, 2013 at 9:05 AM

Feelings? How do you know how I feel about dirty rap and strippers?

Feelings are based on emotions and our emotions can be very transitory and deceiving. Shouldn’t it be something more like respect others’ space?

Dr. Frank Enstine on February 21, 2013 at 9:02 AM

Yup. We are raising a generation that can no longer think for itself. They are being bullied into moral relativism.

AcidReflux on February 21, 2013 at 9:53 AM

Yup, once they’ve been bullied into accepting moral relativism, pushing the boundaries on sex, lying, cheating, stealing, sloth… whatever the vice, while not accepted necessarily as virtue but the simple, most direct, expected and accepted means to an end.

Fallon on February 21, 2013 at 10:49 AM

“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time make a Hell of Earth. Their very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be “cured” against one’s will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals.”
-C.S. Lewis God in the Dock

menacetosobriety on February 21, 2013 at 11:00 AM

Best summation I’ve read in a while.

Perfect rebuttal to Ace.

budfox on February 21, 2013 at 11:01 AM

We dare not “judge” other actions because we have been taught that there is no such thing as right or wrong.

Put another way, “It is wrong to judge the actions of others because there is no right or wrong.”

The Rogue Tomato on February 21, 2013 at 12:54 PM

You’re free to practice your religion and your personal morality, and you’re free to do whatever you want to yourself or a consenting partner, as long as you follow the above four rules.

TMOverbeck on February 21, 2013 at 9:05 AM

Are Muslims free to practice Sharia law which states that a nine-year old is a consenting adult?

sharrukin on February 21, 2013 at 1:09 PM

Moral absolutism is an intellectual sham and a fig leaf to cover authoritarian ambitions. If one person claims that A is morally right and one person claims that A is morally wrong, who is right? Who decides? People like “Father” Longenecker? One of his imam counterparts? No thanks.

Armin Tamzarian on February 21, 2013 at 1:46 PM

Moral absolutism is an intellectual sham and a fig leaf to cover authoritarian ambitions. If one person claims that A is morally right and one person claims that A is morally wrong, who is right? Who decides? People like “Father” Longenecker? One of his imam counterparts? No thanks.

Armin Tamzarian on February 21, 2013 at 1:46 PM

If nothing is right, then nothing is wrong. In which case, rape is permissible. Same goes for the Holocaust and all other of mans most unspeakable crimes. We live in a nation of laws based on Judeo-Christian thinking. If you want to change that, then you better find a good replacement school (hint: morality is an invention of religion).

nobar on February 21, 2013 at 1:59 PM

Are Muslims free to practice Sharia law which states that a nine-year old is a consenting adult?

sharrukin on February 21, 2013 at 1:09 PM

That would run afoul of “Do not hold anyone captive”, since no doubt the majority of these marriages are done against the 9-year-old’s will, never mind the fact that they can’t enter into a marriage contract.

TMOverbeck on February 21, 2013 at 2:19 PM

That would run afoul of “Do not hold anyone captive”, since no doubt the majority of these marriages are done against the 9-year-old’s will, never mind the fact that they can’t enter into a marriage contract.

TMOverbeck on February 21, 2013 at 2:19 PM

You passed the law that doesn’t allow them to enter into contracts and then say they cannot enter into contracts? Circular reasoning.

Sharia law states they can consent. You claim they are “ free to practice your religion and your personal morality” and then pass laws preventing that.

What makes your age of consent any more valid than theirs? Where is their freedom of religion?

sharrukin on February 21, 2013 at 2:25 PM

This is why a country needs to have an established, unchanging baseline. The first thing the left had to do to destroy America is get the invention of “separation of church and state” accomplished and then percolated through the schools by removing the morality and ethics taught there. The Constitution says nothing about separation of church and state, just that Congress cannot establish a national religion.

Then from a basis like the Bible you can debate. There are some absolutes: no murder, no theft, etc. Then society can decide from there.

But it’s more than just what we base our laws on. It’s the value system of the people voting for the politicians. If it is a truly Christian value of love the sinner, hate the sin, you treat the woman who gets an abortion with compassion and dignity, and the abortionist goes to jail.

What the left doesn’t see is what the priest is talking about here (the Bible actually says Call nobody father, in a religious sense, except God) is that in a society where the majority of the people have no shared baseline of right and wrong, it always devolves.

You see it in TV the most. Not that I was in favor of Lucy and Dezi having separate beds, was not realistic, but we did not need to go all the way to TV-MA allowing TV to show people actually having sex . . .

We need to teach Biblical principles in schools, let people decide to reject or incorporate them for their own lives and reinforce the ones proven to strengthen our society in discourse. We won’t like where we end up if we keep teaching that anything “that doesn’t harm anybody else” is ok. The definition of what “harms anybody else” can change for each person. In a world of moral relativism, murder can eventually be condoned because somebody was better off dead by subjective criteria. In Nazi Germany it was because they were gay or Jewish. In China it was because they failed to accept the state’s goals.

PastorJon on February 21, 2013 at 3:30 PM

PastorJon on February 21, 2013 at 3:30 PM

+100

Well said.

sharrukin on February 21, 2013 at 4:02 PM

One of my (Christian) college professors once said, “If there is no God, then the only people acting rationally in our society are the criminals.” Yep. Civilized people would consider the actions of robbers and murderers to be “wrong.” But no efforts to explain why, apart from a reference to an absolute moral code, succeeds. If we’re all going to die anyway, and if the earth will eventually be destroyed by our dying sun, why does it matter if one human being’s existence is inconvenienced or even cut short by the self-centered desires of another? Taking a totally rational view of an amoral existence, absolutely nothing matters. So we should live for all the pleasure we can experience and take as much as we can, even at the expense of others. Only an idiot would waste his time worrying about other people’s feelings, and only an idiot would be dissuaded from doing exactly as he pleased at any given moment by anything less than brute force he could not outmatch.

If there’s no permanent defining factor for right and wrong, no foundational moral system, then everything eventually devolves to “might makes right”–the only justification for authority impervious to the whims of moral relativism…and the default setting of a world where every person does what is right in his or her own eyes.

butterflies and puppies on February 22, 2013 at 1:41 AM

I believe the present Pope Benedict VXI has spoken loud and clear as to the societal destruction caused by relative moral thinking. The only allowed truth today is that there is no truth.

But why should we listen to a old German who wears funny hats?

Don L on February 22, 2013 at 2:07 PM

And all of Human history backs this brilliant conclusion. Take Genghis or Attila for example or Old Hickory. Hell take the Emperor of Old Nippon. Look at the Peruvian civilization. Old Spain comes to mind as well the Holy Roman Empire.

Observation on February 22, 2013 at 8:31 PM