Texas Faith: When society’s morals shift
Question by Rudolph Bush
The writer Rod Dreher recently opined that America is no longer a true home for Christian people… He suggests that our nation is on a confused path of the sort that drove St. Benedict away from Rome and into the woods during the empire’s decline. Conservatives, he suggests, should “consider what I’ve come to call the ‘Benedict Option’ —that is, pioneering forms of dropping out of a barbaric mainstream culture that has grown hostile to our fundamental values.”
How does a person who wants to good and moral find a true path of goodness and morality? How do we sift right from wrong? When do we bend to change and when do we stiffen our resolve?
AMY MARTIN, President Emeritus – Earth Rhythms
So Rod Dreher, a sincere Christian and crunchy conservative, is feeling out of step with an amoral mainstream. Welcome to my world, Rod. Now catch up. As an aging hippie, we’ve been creating intentional peace communities within American culture for decades. Our motto is “we are one” and we try our best to live that way each day. Yet our moral objections have rarely been heard over the din of religious and political argument.
Most of what passes for pop culture horrifies us peace-and-love folks, as does the global scale of our country’s appetite for violence. The callous way animals are treated causes us personal pain. So does the rapacious appetite for natural resources that destroys vast tracts of irreplaceable nature. The news is replete with an extreme lack of caring that challenges us every day to not relent to nihilism.
Is it just? Is it compassionate? Is it necessary? Does it foster harmony, elevate humanity, and respect the Earth? Is it how we would want to be treated? These questions guide our imperfect actions. With that as our instruction, two people of the same gender who want to marry each other just does not make our list of moral concerns. In the big picture, Dreher has a greater amount in common with more people than he knows. To quote the sufi poet Rumi: “Beyond our ideas of right-doing and wrong-doing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.”
Notes from Rudolph Bush:
It is often hard to know what is good and what is moral. It is easy to be pushed by popularity.
Many of us wish to be good, and we work to be good. But in a complex world, the question of what is good and what is moral is always shifting. Society’s sense of morality, of how we should act and react, changes.
The growing acceptance of homosexuality and the sense that marriage between couples of the same sex and couples of the opposite sex are equivalent is a powerful example. Or take the ever sensitive question of abortion, something that fewer and fewer Americans now believe is morally acceptable versus a generation ago.
This appears to be in reaction to the changing cultural sense of morality. Dreher believes his views are a true morality, just as those who disagree with him believe theirs are.