September 9, 2008

Evasion ...

Alan Wolfe, in The New Republic blog, What Bristol's baby tells us about the Christian right...
....It may seem like ages ago but during the Clinton administration, conservative traditionalists were everywhere. The nuclear family is sacrosanct. Women should shun the workforce and become full-time moms. Kids should obey their parents and, if they choose not to, discipline, including harsh measures, ought to be applied. Sex outside of marriage is strictly forbidden. Our culture is spinning wildly out of control, and sexual liberation, the worst byproduct of the God-awful 1960s, is the cause. And, by the way, abortion is murder and should be forbidden.

All that is left, if the Palin controversy is any indication, is abortion. Palin's defenders, far from being traditionalists, are moral relativists. We should not rush to judgment. It is important to understand the pressures that families face. Love is all you need. Forgive in order to forget. People are entitled to their privacy, even, if not especially, in the bedroom. The state should not be in the business of telling people what to do. It sounds like the language of the left, but it has also had long resonance on the libertarian right. When the McCain campaign said that Bristol Palin had a choice, it was correct. These days we all have choices. The fact that we do has always bothered conservative traditionalists.

Sarah Palin's nomination is a public service. No longer will we hear lectures from the likes of Newt Gingrich telling poor women on welfare how to conduct their sex lives. Focus on the Family will have to focus on a different kind of family. William Bennett has no virtues left to write about. At long last our national nightmare over sexual hypocrisy has come to an end, and we can all thank John McCain for that...

Conservative traditionalists are still everywhere. And one thing sure hasn't changed since the 90's: Leftists like Mr Wolfe are afraid to engage their actual arguments, and instead desperately erect strawmen to tear down.

Mr Gingrich was not "telling poor women on welfare how to conduct their sex lives," (except in the sense that he may have pointed out that certain actions tend to have bad consequences, such as keeping you mired in poverty and welfare dependency.)

His main point, and mine, is that you, Mr Wolfe,YOU, and your fellow Leftists, are destroying human beings by undermining the intricate web of culture and laws and faith and decent entertainment and traditions and hard work that used to encourage people to live their lives well and sensibly.

The Christian view of sin (or at least the Catholic one I was taught) is not that God is a killjoy who doesn't want you to have fun. Rather, he is like your mother when she told you not to poke the knife into the electrical outlet! God says if you do certain things you will suffer bad consequences. That's just the way the Universe works. (Interestingly, the Hebrew word usually translated as "commandments" can also mean "statements." Think of The Ten Statements, and things will be clearer.)

Conservatives want to discourage sin because people�and societies�who try not to sin do better, in both the short and long run. Bristol and Levi are less likely to have successful lives together because they are marrying as teenagers. It is Christian Charity to try to discourage this. To balance this, they have a greater chance of a good future because they are surrounded by a loving and moral community, that will tend to push them towards lives of hard work and honesty and Christian faith. And will discourage them from taking easy outs like abortion and divorce. This has always been our view.

And what do "Conservative traditionalists" think when they think about the Palin's situation? Have they cynically become "moral relativists?" They think three things.

1. That the Palin's may very well have failed somehow, but that they were probably doing their best. Teenagers happen. And there is nothing cynical about making allowances. We Christians expect that we will often fail, and will pick ourselves up and try again. (Catholics, by the way, call this "continuous conversion," and we think it is a much more realistic picturethan the Evangelical "conversion experience.")

2. We know that there is always a painful trade-off in trying to discourage sin (or crime.) Treating the sinner harshly may be less compassionate than it should be towards the individual, but also is more compassionate towards other people who need to be kept from temptation. The shame that used to surround the unwed mother was harsh on her, but also a kindness to all the others who were discouraged from making the same mistake. (And I know what I'm talking about, because I grew up in that old world, which Mr Wolfe sneers at.)

3. We are always bitterly aware that our children have to grow up in a foul nihilist culture that encourages everything that degrades people, and is designed (consciously or un) to atomize society, the better to make us dependent on the state. To break down all the institutions that stand between the individual and government, in order to give power to bureaucracies that just happen (surprise surprise) to be manned almost entirely by leftists like Mr Wolfe.

We are keenly aware that every institution that assaults tradition, morality, religion, patriotism�think Hollywood, the press, the academy, the "arts"�they ALL of them support Mr Obama. If Bristol and Levi sinned, we are well aware that they are surrounded by enemies who have spared no effort to cause their failure.

Posted by John Weidner at September 9, 2008 1:05 PM
Weblog by John Weidner