Is Christianity Morally Offensive?

I find it so interesting that many of the most strident opponents of Christianity attack it for its moral teachings. If you didn’t know better, you’d expect these opponents to oppose the Christian moral vision with a coherent and profound moral philosophy based on an altogether different and better foundation. After all, to oppose and replace the religious and moral tradition that created the western world and shaped its moral intuition for over a thousand years is a pretty ambitious agenda. And since the objections I have in mine come from contemporary western people, you would think they would have given serious consideration to how they could escape the influence of the system they now criticize. Do you return to pre-Christian sources? Do you draw on non-western traditions? Do you attempt to derive a new morality from modern natural science? Only Friedrich Nietzsche and a few other adventuresome thinkers attempted to return to pre-Christian paganism. And most modern objections to Christian morality would apply doubly to pagan morality. Nietzsche criticized Christianity for its compassion for the weak, hardly politically correct today. Most non-western moral traditions are as conservative as or more so than the Christian tradition. And science can only describe the way things are. It cannot tell you how they should be. No, there is no alternative for modern progressives who think they have advanced beyond Christianity.

Self-conscious secularists and progressives and throngs of thoughtless people who echo them decry Christianity’s prohibition of sexual activity outside of a marriage between one man and one woman, divorce, suicide, abortion, and homosexual activity. There have always been people who practice these things and who justify them in various ways. But lately we see a new hostility toward Christian moral teachings that views them, not just as backward, but as evil.  What accounts for this new hostility toward Christianity for its teaching on these subjects? The most obvious reason for the new aggression is political. The Christian moral vision dominated western society for many centuries.  In the United States it has only recently become feasible for de-Christianized progressivism to turn the tables and become the dominant philosophy of culture. Christian churches and the Christian moral vision are what stand in the way of this transfer of power. Hence much contemporary criticism of Christianity can be explained by its political aims. But a deeper issue concerns me more than the struggle for political domination.

Why do secular progressives hate Christianity for its views of marriage, divorce, suicide, abortion, and homosexual activity? I do not believe that it is simply because of what Christianity permits or forbids. In truth, it is Christianity’s denial that individual human beings have the right to decide for themselves what is good and right. Christianity teaches that we do not own ourselves and we must give an account to our Creator for what we do and how we use our lives as well as how we treat others. For de-Christianized progressives, Christianity’s denial of their autonomy is deeply offensive. But instead of challenging the Christian moral vision with a coherent and profound moral philosophy, progressives appeal to the flattering but obviously false notion that individual human beings can be their own gods, determining good and evil for themselves. Perhaps Christianity’s exposure of this fiction explains the intensity of progressives’ hatred.

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9 thoughts on “Is Christianity Morally Offensive?

  1. nokareon

    Your last paragraph really drives the truth home at its core. I find it significant that the first principle cited in the Obergefell decision by Justice Kennedy is the principle of autonomy. The more important, intimate, and life-changing the decision, the more that autonomy must be protected, the Court ruled. Sounds good, right?

    Until you realize that, like children reaching for the block of knives, exerting our own willpower over and against the will of our Father is little more than a way to get ourselves hurt. It *is* anathema to this day and age, which holds the ability to choose to end one’s own life as more sacred than the very life in question. It *is*—and should be— an offense to the ears of those who think that the consensus of humans can alter the nature of that which has been established solely by God. It is, like an intervention by an alcoholic’s friends throwing out all of the alcoholic’s stores, an unwelcome intrusion of the voice of how the world ought to be in the realm of fantasy and escapism of those that believe we can define our own reality, our own good—our own God.

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    1. ifaqtheology Post author

      As always, I am impressed with the insight of your comments. We’ve been out of the country for two weeks. I had this essay posted automatically. I wrote it a week earlier in anticipation of my trip. Last Sunday, I sat in a Mass in the church (in Lyon) were Ireneaus of Lyon is buried.

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  2. Chaplapreneur

    Yeah the last paragraph really hit the subject good. The issue in our culture today is authority. It is not all the sub issues. People want to do what they want to do and are trying to escape God or live life without Him.

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  3. Edward William Fudge

    It would be a misuse of scripture and of its very partial a
    It would be a misuse of scripture and a misuse of Highfield’s analysis of our post-Christian culture, its philosophical underpinnings and its social and legal ramifications, were one to read this post and see only an index for a political/social agenda from the right. The fact that godless progressivism’s inherent hatred of all things biblical is its unavoidable response to the Bible’s insistence that God alone, not we ourselves, is capable of determining what is good and what is evil. But let us remember that fallen humankind rebel at this point concerning every other expression of their supposed autonomy and freedom from God. We could compile a considerable list of illustrative issues, which viewed in political terms, would sometimes appear to favor the Right, sometimes the Left, and sometimes none of our familiar categories.

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    1. nokareon

      Naturally. This isn’t about politics, but about culture. I could just as easily pick out examples of, say, big business interests over and against environmental concerns that would indict the political right as well. All of it stems from mankind’s belief that we—rather than God—dictate truth and reality.

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    2. ifaqtheology Post author

      Thank you, Edward. I hope to address this issue soon. Not everything is political in the common meaning of that term. Sadly, “politics” has become, not an exercise of reason informed by experience to solve problems that affect the common life of a people, but an exercise in emotion, dissimulation and demonization for the purpose of gaining power, seemingly only for the sake of power. There is a relationship between politics understood as the use of reason informed by experience to solve common problems and morality generally. But if politics is conducted as a rhetorical gladiator spectacle, the language and aims of moral philosophy and theology will be interpreted as just one more cynical political strategy. And the idea that someone might, just might, want to do what is right and good for their own sake or for God’s sake becomes incomprehensible.

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  4. Pingback: Friday Stream of Consciousness - 137 - TimSpivey.com

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