Sitting here watching the news about the protests against Donald Trump’s inauguration and today’s Women’s March on Washington, these thoughts came to mind: These are the days when America continues its inevitable descent into chaos, a chaos caused because we no longer have a moral consensus in this country. We are still in the throes of a cultural war of competing moralities. Everybody thinks that their morality is the true morality—and they seem willing to fight you about it, a very immoral thing to do! We are experiencing what are no doubt the death throes of somebody’s morality. And the side with the loudest voices, the most celebrities, the most money, the most violent protests, and the greatest “political will,” as Hillary Clinton phrased it in a speech, will win.
But what makes the problem so complicated is that none of these moralities or the people promoting them is pure or consistent. For example, Donald Trump said enough nice moral things for millions of evangelical Christians to support him—anti-abortion, anti-gay, conscience rights, etc.—but in the same breath, so to speak, spouted out lots of definitely immoral stuff like sexually harassing women and grabbing them by the genitals. Many others (not everyone) who supported him are definitely racists and bigots, but evidently they saw something in him that agreed with their morality also.
On the other hand, Barack Obama, was disliked by millions because, although he and Michelle modeled wonderful Christian family values and tried to help the poor, he was guilty of promoting gay marriage, refused to defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), and executively ordered that schools allow biological males to share restroom facilities with females. To millions, this was so inconsistent that there was no way in heaven he could be considered Christian. Many concluded that he was the opposite—the “Anti-Christ’’—and a secret Muslim.
Everyone’s morality seems to be mongrelized and mixed instead of pure and consistent. This is because everyone’s morality is subjective, based on what “I think is right.” Based on how I was raised. Based on my own little set of experiences. Based on my own little private religious interpretations. And the fact is, all morality is based on something, some system of beliefs about what is right and wrong. But here in America we no longer agree on what that system of beliefs should be. What might be fine and moral in one person’s system is absolutely wrong in another’s.
So since we don’t agree, some people think that we should just tolerate each other. Sounds great on paper. But these are the days when people preach tolerance out of one side of their mouths but don’t practice it if you don’t agree with them. They think that a fashion designer, working for the public, should have the conscience right to refuse to make an inauguration dress for Melania Trump, but cake designers, working for the same public, should be prevented by the government from conscientiously refusing to decorate a cake celebrating a gay wedding. There is absolutely no difference in these scenarios, no matter how you try to spin it, and both artisans should have the right to work according to their consciences. But they don’t: the cake designer was fined $135,000 and forced out of business! So much for tolerance! [See here]
Millions obviously think that they should protest Trump’s presidency, breaking windows and burning limos during Trump’s inauguration, forgetting that 8 years ago lots of other Americans refused to act that way when Barack Obama, also hated by millions, became President. How do I morally justify my destroying other people’s property while protesting Trump’s immorality and “illegitimacy” as President? How inconsistent can I be?
Hillary seemed like a very nice lady and a great potential president to millions of Americans, who were shocked that she lost the election. But to millions of others Americans, she was downright scary, especially when they saw videos of her Women of the World speech in which she strongly suggested that “deep seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed.” [See here] Although she spoke primarily of “reproductive health care,” in the world of liberalism “reproductive health care” includes “reproductive rights,” the code word for the right to abortion. So what millions heard was Hillary telling them they must change their moral and Christian convictions against abortion, a scary notion indeed in what is supposedly the “land of the free.”
Ironically, this weekend’s Women’s March on Washington, observed by millions marching in cities across the globe to protest, among other things, Donald Trump’s intolerance, was itself guilty of intolerance: “But a group of anti-abortion women also came, beseeching the larger march to recognize their variety of feminism. Whether or not to include the conservative viewpoint sparked controversy in the days before the march. Anti-abortion women said they were excluded.” [See here] They were removed as sponsors of the march because their political stance disagreed with the organizers’ beliefs. Is that tolerant? Meanwhile, female gendercide (widespread abortion of female babies) has eliminated 160 million girls throughout the world, while women march for their moral right to abort! How silly and self-defeating is that? [See here]
Very few people saw this chaos coming back in the 1960s and 70s when we dumped true Christian morality as the standard on which to base our laws, behaviors, and social expectations. When we dumped the standard we were left with no way to label anything right or wrong. The only wrong today is if you keep me from doing whatever I want to do or, like an intolerant bigot, you refuse to accept my wrong behavior as right. I have a right to live however I want to live, even if it’s socially- and self-destructive. Or even if it steps on the rights of someone else, e.g., a preborn baby’s right to life. By the way, in the above speech, Hillary said “the unborn person doesn’t have constitutional rights.” But then on the other hand, we’ve actually jailed drug-addicted mothers for abuse of these rights-less fetuses.
Of course, the ultimate inconsistency concerns the very foundation of our democracy itself: The idea from the Declaration of Independence that all of us have certain “unalienable rights” because “all men are created equal.” This concept actually comes from the Bible, emanating from the principles of the Christian faith. It can be true only by assuming that there is a Creator and He loves and values each of us equally, i.e., we are of equal value only in God’s sight. Otherwise, to claim that we are equal in talents, intelligence, opportunities, social status, physical abilities, economic standing, etc., is utterly preposterous. Although we have not practiced this concept faithfully, no other nation in history has ever even dared to base its governance upon such a concept. No nation in history has ever treated everyone equally, or even thought that it should, until Christianity gave rise to the American experiment. Now, having based the whole idea of “human equality” on a morality borrowed from the Creator, we have dumped Him and His morality but continue to think that someway, somehow, this democracy is going to work with no moral basis at all. This is the ultimate inconsistency.
So, yes, these are the days when America continues its inevitable descent into chaos, a chaos caused because we no longer have a moral consensus in this country. It is a chaos that will end only when one of these warring moralities wins out and silences the other completely. Peaceful coexistence in the same country is possible only when one side is so far in the minority that its voice cannot be heard. In the history of the world, no country has ever existed where two vastly different, equal-sized groups having opposing value systems, have peacefully coexisted, lovingly tolerating each other as brothers. Opposite value systems simply cannot be mixed.
Jesus Christ and others have said it succinctly: “A house divided cannot stand.” This axiom is true, and so are its corollaries: “Either the house will eventually split into two separate houses” or “The division itself will cease by one side silencing the other.” Both usually lead to some kind of war, be it cultural, physical, or both. This happened during the Civil War, and it’s happening again today.
There is one other, a third, possible corollary. But it cannot happen on earth, only in heaven, because it requires a widespread and radical spiritual transformation: “Both sides can begin, like God, to truly love each other, to reject their individual selfishness, and to live peacefully as brothers and sisters.” But both sides would have to quit living for themselves and start living for God’s “will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.” This will come—there will be peace on earth someday—but don’t hold your breath.
© January 2017 Philip A Matthews