Tolerance, Morality, & Freedom Part III: Freedom

Written by Victor Stanley Jr.

Introduction

The following statement is put forth by a friend or acquaintance: “My biggest problem with Christianity is, for one, that Christians seem so intolerant and judgmental, and secondly, their sexual ethic seems to suppress basic human desires and our freedom to live fulfilled lives.” The question now raised is this, what response can be offered by the Christian who truly wants to engage the person who holds these views as well as the culture that shapes them? One can imagine that numerous responses are possible yet not all are plausible, some responses are consistent yet incoherent, and still other responses are coherent yet do not correspond to reality. Thus, the attempt must be made to offer a response that is plausible, consistent, coherent, and that corresponds to reality.

Freedom

Freedom is the hallmark of Western society, it is the rallying call of the revolutions throughout Europe and the Americas that overthrew monarchies and slavery. Freedom is also the principle used to bolster the argument against traditional and historical morality. The friend who has presented the statement being assessed and addressed throughout this essay may take great issue with the section on morality. She may say that Christians are also, if not more, guilty of forcing their moral standards on the masses. While this may be particularly true at certain times throughout history, it is not universally true, especially when one considers the foundations of modern Western society.

Any public-school student knows that religious freedom and separation of Church and State are pillars of Western political ideology, and this fact quickly dispels the notion that Christian morality is or can be forced on the general populace. The ground gained by so called progressives in their efforts to change the morality of Western society also shows that Christian morality has never been at the core of Western ideology.

The Enlightenment philosophy that influenced the development of modern Western society saw the laws of nature and reason as the driving forces behind morality, not necessarily Christian morals. This is seen in such texts as Thomas Paine’s Common Sense, Rousseau’s The Social Contract, and John Locke’s Two Treatises on Government, as well as the works of Voltaire, Adam Smith, and Thomas Hobbes to name a few. Rousseau himself says that “The lawgiver is, in every respect, an extraordinary man in the state.”[1] He goes on to say that it is only because of certain paradoxes in men’s attempts to institute laws that they appeal to higher divine authorities as the source of law;[2] specifically that they “…attribute their own wisdom to the Gods; for then the people obey freely…”[3]

These men are mentioned and quoted because their observations on law and morality were inextricably tied to their opinions on politics, specifically freedom. What the Enlightenment ushered in was and is a subjective morality that shifts according to the will of the people, a social contract between citizens. In their striving for freedom, liberation, and individual expression the threw out any and everything that had been used or misused as a means of tyranny and oppression, including objective morality.

Our friend’s statement said that Christian sexual ethics “seem to suppress basic human desires and our freedom to live fulfilled lives.” What he is suggesting is that Christian sexual ethics restrict freedom, place liberated people in bondage to outdated morals, and suppress individual expression. Brevity is best here as much has been said concerning tolerance and morality. Freedom itself must be restrictive because it depends on the constraining of those things that bring tyranny. Liberation requires bondage because those things or persons that would enslave people must be bound. Finally, individual expression requires the suppression of oppressive forces, people, and ideas.

One would be inclined to ask this friend what he means when he says Christianity suppresses expression and limits freedom, you might even ask him what exactly it is Christianity constrains, binds, and suppresses, is it basic human desire as he stated? Ask him to define basic human desire. Are all basic human desires to be allowed? Hunger is a basic human desire, yet this friend is against cannibalism. Sexual pleasure is a basic human desire, but should all sexual behaviors be allowed? Pedophilia, incest, rape? Internet porn sites depict fictional scenarios of these things and hundreds of millions of people consume them for entertainment every year.

The top porn categories in the world include incest, young girls (women depicting young high school girls), and things that fall into what is called hardcore porn which depicts rape like situations.[4] These things that, on the surface, society considers immoral are in fact quietly accepted and viewed for amusement and pleasure. If a broad definition of freedom is accepted along with the new tolerance and subjective morality, then these detestable behaviors can neither be shunned or designated as wrong. A society that allows any and everything that tickles the fancy of its citizens will quickly, and frighteningly, come to fruition if the viewpoint of this friend is adopted and lived out to its logical conclusions.

Conclusion

“My biggest problem with Christianity is, for one, that Christians seem so intolerant and judgmental, and secondly, their sexual ethic seems to suppress basic human desires and our freedom to live fulfilled lives.” Here is the response to this statement: Yes, Christians are indeed intolerant and judgmental, their sexual ethic does suppress human desires while restricting people’s ability to live out what non-Christian world would consider “fulfilled lives.” They are intolerant because they refuse to accept the truth claims other worldviews put forth. They are judgmental because they judge others by the moral standard set forth in their sacred text, the Bible. And their sexual ethic is guilty as charged because their ethics are governed by biblical sexual ethics and not the general will of the populace; however, every person on earth is guilty of the same.

People are intolerant of any truth that falls outside of their worldview; they judge based on their personal, familial, and cultural moral standards; and their ethics are dictated by their belief system. Our friend’s statement is true, but his argument is weak.


 

[1] Rousseau, The Social Contract, 85.

[2] Ibid, 87.

[3] Ibid, 87.

[4] This information is taken from a report done by the largest and most popular adult entertainment site in the world, it is owned and operated by MindGeek Holding SARL. Numerous media outlets and reputable organizations reference this porn site’s annual “Year-In-Review” report that provides a detailed analysis as well as raw data on worldwide porn consumption. Because this report is only available in full on the actual porn site I have decided not to provide the actual citation. If the citation is needed I can provide that via email.

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