Thursday, April 11, 2013

Losing Natural Law.

James Kalb writes:
The result is that natural-law moral reasoning loses its basis in how reason and reality are publicly understood, and comes to seem an imposition of arbitrary demands that are at odds with perfectly valid (because peacefully achievable) human desires. To make matters worse, as moral standards come to conform themselves to what is now understood as reason, and to the tendency of a bureaucratic, commercial, and technocratic society to view everything from the standpoint of obvious immediate utility, natural-law moral reasoning comes to appear actively evil. After all, it tries to bring human life within natural patterns that are traditionally recognized, and that means stereotyping and discrimination, which are now considered the worst sins imaginable.
That’s why Barack Obama got a rainbow-colored halo on the cover of Time Magazine when he came out in favor of “gay marriage.” Indeed, the requirement under international law that governments suppress attitudes and practices stemming from belief in sexual complementarity suggests that extirpating natural-law considerations is now considered, by our most authoritative institutions, a basic responsibility of government.
Under such circumstances, intelligent discussion of the public good, and of the complex and multi-leveled patterns and goals that shape human life, becomes impossible. So what do Catholics do when confronted with social authorities that insist, as a matter of fundamental principle, on replacement of human nature and the good by will and technology as the highest standard, and demand the imposition of their vision on the whole of life everywhere?
It’s a difficult question, especially when the state and other centralized forms of social organization are as pervasive as they are today. What we obviously can’t do, though, is support the realization of the progressive vision. The egalitarian, bureaucratic, and centrally-administered conception of social justice on which it is based is something we can’t cooperate with. When we support it, as the case of Obamacare illustrates, we are strengthening what will crush us. We might as well support the construction of a universal caliphate.
Instead, we must insistently, in season and out, in every possible setting, assert, argue for, and act on our own contrary understanding of human life. When there is a fundamental misconception the answer is not to join in the projects of the people who suffer from the misconception. It is to do whatever is needed to correct it. Today the Catholic view is simply not a presence in public life, and at best is misunderstood as an eccentric variation on some other view. Our most important political task is to change that.

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