Last Updated: Thursday - 09/23/2010
September 20, 2010
Humanity must fit in an ordered universe
A U.S. judge defies nature and imposes his own private, relativistic moral views
A Shepherd Speaks
BISHOP FRED HENRY
In August 2010 Judge Vaughn Walker nullified the votes of seven million people of California who passed an amendment to the state constitution that defined marriage as a union between one man and one woman.
In his ruling, Walker makes some unbelievable assertions as if they were self-evident truths.
For example, he claims the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage "exists as an artifact of a time when the genders were seen as having distinct roles in society and in marriage. That time has passed." Androgyny reigns, despite the French's "Vive la difference!" Any position to the contrary is simply irrational.
Again, he writes: "The evidence shows conclusively that moral and religious views form the only basis for a belief that same-sex couples are different from opposite-sex couples." Apparently, the evidence from social science studies is not relevant either.
While telling millions of people that their own private moral views cannot be used to make their laws, he simply imposes his own private and relativistic moral views.
Most people, most of the time in human history, have judged the world to manifest some definite order. Nature, including human nature, manifests purpose and intelligence which shines through the many accidents that also occur. Most things have beginnings and ends. We live in an ordered universe.
The task of human life is to understand this order, especially that part of it that refers to our destiny and us. We manifest our own internal order, which we find but do not make. This order includes our sexuality.
Human beings occupy a special place in the order of things. We cannot be indifferent to what we are, even if we regret being what we are. Things already are what they are. They can be distinguished one from another and compared. Human beings find the distinctions; they do not invent or create them.
The import of this sense of order in things is that we already are what we are. Our purpose is to live according to what it is to be a human being, not something else.
Human dignity is thus a given, not a blank page. Our perfection is to be more ourselves, not something else, some other sort of being. In this same understanding, we can fail to be what we ought to be. This failure has serious consequences for others and ourselves. Civilization, in fact, is the record of our failures and successes in becoming what we ought to be.
Suppose, however, that we find this given world restrictive. We do not want to be bound by any order, especially human order. It doesn't make much sense but we can rebel. We are free to abandon order and reason and adamantly assert that no way can be found according to which we "ought" to live.
Nothing can be found to challenge whatever we want. No nature indicates what is best for us. Like Nietzsche, we can say that none of the existing philosophies explains anything. We are our own projects with no models that come from elsewhere to guide us.
Modern philosophical relativism is a perfect alternative to a world of meaning. It is presented under the idea of freedom. This freedom in turn is based on the idea that no stable nature can be found. No question of a cause of nature's order thus arises. Human beings are not intended to be human beings.
Indeed, the human condition is that there is no human condition. Since human beings are not any particular kind of being, they are free to make themselves into any sort of being they wish themselves to be.
In relativism, we find a hatred for or adamant rejection of the idea that man "ought" by nature to be a certain kind of being. Everyone is free to make himself into whatever kind of being he chooses. Everything can be accommodated. We have no criteria by which we can agree on anything.
Hence our freedom is not a common recognition of a truth open to all, but rather a refusal to give validity to anything but what we want.
This making-over includes both our body insofar as science can reconstruct it and our soul insofar as we guide ourselves as we will. Reinventing basic social institutions such as marriage are also seen to be fair game.
The public order is really a freeway interchange to facilitate these constantly changing selves and institutions. No one can really criticize anyone else for being what he or she decides to be. Equality means there exists no standard of what is human. The only threat to this idyllic world of being what we want to be is any hint that we have a nature and that we ought to be what this nature indicates.
But this view is precisely what Justice Walker rejects as he tries to impose his own private world onto the rest of us.
Further, in his decision to invalidate the constitutional amendment he wrote, "that the majority of California voters supported Proposition 8 is irrelevant."
The misuse of law to change the nature of marriage undermines the common good. It is tragic that a federal judge would overturn the clear and expressed will of the people in their support for the institution of marriage. No court of civil law has the authority to reach into areas of human experience that nature itself has defined.