As I’ve explored in various previous essays, there are a lot of things that are wrong with modern first world society today. Some more obvious examples might be lack of respect for life, destruction of the family, redefinition of gender, and so on. Our society, having essentially rejected basic Judeo-Christian values, is now full of the moral evils that occur when goodness is replaced by materialism. Why bother pointing this out, since it’s already obvious enough? This time I am commentating not on the culture itself, but how the practitioners of these moral evils seek to change human perception of good and evil itself.
Christianity is Unpopular…
To provide a point for comparison, think back to the time when all the nations of western civilization were Christian and were given the name “Christendom” for this reason. Back then, though just as now not everyone acted like a Christian all the time, still belief in the Christian Church and her basic teachings was taken as a given. For example, a man was a man, a woman was a woman, and while there was debate about when unborn babies were in possession of human souls, there was always agreement that they be protected. Although flawed, like all human societies, the viewpoint of medieval Christendom was, in my Catholic’s estimation, much better than those held in today’s modern, bordering on atheistic society. Now, over the past century, new “forward” thinking has eclipsed the old religious mindset in most. Thus, we Christians suffer persecution, or at the very least isolation for our beliefs.
…But that Isn’t the Problem
However, I would say that there are greater issues than just that of us Christians struggling because more of the world is secular and does not agree with us. After all, Christ said, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.” The issue I intend to address is the way these new cultural “norms,” in spite of their being a reaction against religion, have themselves turned into a substitute religion, meaning both that the practitioners of these precepts treat them as sacrosanct and they want the rest of the world to hold their beliefs too.
Belief in the Church is not Mandated…
Let us look at Catholicism in order to better explain this parallel. We Catholics believe that the Church teaches the truth about existence and the universe, beginning with theological truths, such as, “This is why God created the world,” and the truths that follow and make up Catholic teaching, like, “This is how God intended the world to be.” We also believe that, although Church teachings are in the form of rules, starting with the “Thou shalt not…” of the Ten Commandments, in reality, following Church precepts is the way to true freedom, otherwise we would be slaves to our own sinful nature.
Finally, although we believe Catholicism is true freedom, we do not seek to restrict anyone’s free will. There are certain rules of society, such as prohibition against murder, that do accord with Church teaching, but they are imposed on others not for the sake of faith, but for the sake of basic human rights, such as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We treat our Faith and evangelization in this way because without consent of a person’s individual will, the Faith is not freeing at all. Rather, forced practice of the Faith turns what should be the ultimate freedom into an imposed and controlling rule. Furthermore, it could create or exacerbate the absence of faith in those who have it forced upon them. That is why the Church must be freely chosen by her followers.
…But Belief in Modern Ideology is
Now examine the modernist ideology against Catholicism. Like the Faith, its practitioners believe it teaches the whole truth about reality. “Men can marry men, “Pregnancies should be ended at the woman’s discretion,” “good and evil are mostly relative,”and so on. Similarly, its followers argue that their ideas constitute true freedom, freedom both from antiquated, incorrect ideas, and from what they call intolerance and hatred. They might even call themselves “enlightened,” up to a point.
But there is a major divergence between this worldview and the Church—though both Catholicism and followers of the new morality believe they teach truth and the way to true freedom, those who advance the new morality believe that everyone in the world not only should believe in it, but must believe in it, through use of force or any other means necessary.
There is a strong parallel between this concept and a passage from Orwell’s 1984, Section Three, Chapter II, when Winston is being interrogated. O’Brien, his tormentor, states, “The command of the old despotisms was ‘Thou shalt not.’ The command of the totalitarians was ‘Thou shalt.’ Our command is ‘Thou art.’”
Many times have I heard traditional Christian principles called names like “discriminatory” and “intolerant,” or read of attempts of laws being passed to force all those who disagree with the new morality to conform. Remember the independent business owner who supported traditional marriage? He was forced into a “reeducation” program for holding to his beliefs—does this sound eerie yet? In America, the HHS mandate forces companies and even religious orders to pay for birth control and and sterilization, even if it violates their beliefs. In Canada, Jordan Peterson took a stand against government-compelled speech. Essentially, an important part of the new morality dictates that if you do not want to agree to it already, there is something very wrong with you, since it only prescribes what is best for the whole world.
Leaders of the new morality will say things like, “We can’t allow this discrimination in a free country.” However, their definition of “freedom” leaves no room for diverging beliefs. Not only should no one merely privately believe that “marriage by nature is between one man and one woman,” but that belief is considered so base it will not be allowed.
Two Different Kinds of “Freedom”
Conversely, we Catholics believe in offering true freedom, and allowing the rest of the world to share in it as they may wish. We are called to evangelize, but evangelization is the free sharing of the good news of Christ, not the forcing of it. It could be summed up as, “Here is true freedom; take it if you will.” The new morality believes their “true freedom” should be imposed on literally everyone, or in short, “Here is true freedom… which will of necessity be forced upon the whole world.”
The greatest problem with this is… how can freedom be freedom if it is imposed by an external force? The modern morality has no concept of free will, of allowing one person to believe whatever he wants to believe, regardless of whether it is true or not . The new “tolerance” tolerates almost every kind of behavior that was once considered peculiar or unhealthy, such as men turning into women or ending of innocent human lives, while cloaking these ideas in more “socially acceptable” terms. Yet, the one thing this gospel of “tolerance” will never tolerate is a diverging perspective, up to the point of forcefully destroying it. Therefore, regardless of how true it is or is not, it is not a true freedom, but a slavery to the strongest viewpoint.
I do not know if those outside of Judaism and Christianity have ever considered the larger implications of the “freedom” they so loudly, and at times, even violently endorse. If they are intellectually dishonest, such that they do not carry their ideas to their logical conclusion, then it would be hard to convince them of the danger of forcing their viewpoint upon others.
If, on the other hand, they are honest and admit that they wish the whole world to conform to their beliefs by whatever means necessary, then it seems like they have the advantage over us who refuse to use force. Not to tell anyone what to believe myself, but which would you prefer: a supreme ruling on what you absolutely must believe, or a free choice?