In writing recently to counter a flawed argument on the part of a columnist of our local paper (see my former post I am religious Charlie), I was reminded of a mindset that is really tripping a lot of people up these days.
The trend today socially is for people to disassociate themselves from externally originated (institutionalized) thought and practice, whether in the political, religious or scientific spheres, and to replace such with some sort of vaguely defined personal internal moral or ethical compass. In other words, I become my own guide and arbitrator in life: I determine both what’s right or wrong, as well as what’s meaningful and what’s not, for both me and the world around me.
In fact, the newspaper article referred to above has the author stating: “Reason and common sense are better sources of morality, a morality that can be universally recognized and accepted.” A point that is totally discredited by the weight of historical evidence: But that’s a whole other argument.
Well, this universally recognized and accepted morality sounds all wonderful and good and flowery, etc., but what you then have is a rather skewered social order because you quickly discover that both ‘reason’ and ‘morality’ can be and are different things to different people and humankind is no longer ‘on the same page’ so to speak. And, as we all experience, in trying to have even the simplest of conversations and come to the simplest of understandings, that in order for people to communicate, interact and get along socially, they need to be ‘on the same page’, meaning ‘everyone agrees or understands what was said or needs to be done.’ Otherwise you have misunderstanding and confusion leading to wrong actions or conduct; even in the simplest of circumstances
Sad to say, or sadder still to discover, that there isn’t this internal universal compass that is going to automatically set and magically pull everyone in line with ‘true north’, or in our case, ‘true reason and rightness’. In fact, due to the inherencies of human nature, you’re going to find the pull in rather detrimental ways as if someone’s produced a magnet and is deliberately pulling that needle in all kinds of unseemly ways.
I think Oswald Chambers spelled it out very succinctly when he wrote (seeking to verbalize the inner thought processes) of the moralist:
I may prefer to live morally because it is better for me: I am responsible to no one, my conscience is my god. That is the very essence of sin.
There it is. The self-styled independent moralist prefers to live that way, why? ‘Because it is better for me’ (self pleasing) ‘I’m responsible to no one ‘ (self rule) ‘my conscience is my god’ (self aggrandizement). Indeed, their conscience has become their god. It’s really the epitome of counterfeit, and deception and it’s easy to see the author behind it. He or she has in effect become their own god: I prefer to add, ‘‘fallen’ to become their own god.’ Who’s to say or tell them any differently? Whose page is it anyway?