Father Booth’s Weekly Reflection

A New Morality?

It seems that a new ‘morality’ is emerging in our culture. Was the old morality perfect? Hardly. Whenever human beings, human thought, human stupidity, human prejudice, human sensibilities, and human emotions are involved there will be varying degrees of moral imperfection. At no time since the fall of Adam and Eve has mankind possessed a perfect or even a nearly perfect cultural moral compass. True justice has been diminished by the coexistence of moral and immoral laws, moral and immoral public opinions, as well as moral and immoral cultural norms. It often seems as if progress is made on one front while morality retreats elsewhere. For example, the 1950s were a time of social conformity and law and order, but racism was still a major problem in both the hearts of many people and under the laws of many states and municipalities. Given the progress made combating legalized racism, can we say that the cultural morality of twenty years ago vastly exceeded the moral norms of the 1950s? Such an argument would be impossible, for example, given that over 1 million babies have been legally murdered in the womb annually because of the supremely faulty Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade. Morally speaking, can we say that the elimination of legalized racism outweighs the advent of legalized murder of the unborn? Hardly. Not that these two issues – racism and the life of the unborn – are linked in such a way that advancement on one front directly caused retreat on the other moral front, but they illustrate that we can progress in some areas while regressing in others. Nor can we say that abolition of abortion at the expense of the reinstitution of racist laws and attitudes would be acceptable or even preferable. Given that both racism and abortion are intrinsically evil, that they are serious sins that are never justified no matter the circumstances or intentions, they have no place in a moral and just society. Both of these sins, along with a long list of others, need to be rooted out for true social progress.

The new morality taking shape of recent can hardly be seen as an advancement either. Blanket statements based on mere race, ethnicity, or skin color have no place whatsoever in a just and moral society. Just because one race tended to victimize another, this does not justify the victimized race turning on those that once persecuted them. Likewise, the sins of the father, grandfather, great grandfather, etc. have no moral bearing on the son and vice versa: “Only the one who sins shall die. The son shall not be charged with the guilt of his father, nor shall the father be charged with the guilt of his son. Justice belongs to the just, and wickedness to the wicked” (Ez 18:20). The morality forming at the moment, however, can easily be imagined to punish the innocent in the name of justice as if injustice fosters or begets justice. Sadly, we seem to be on the trajectory of punishing not just the criminal or the perceived criminal but punishment extending toward the family or even friends and associates of the offender. Such is the behavior of reprehensible totalitarian regimes.

Even more worrisome is the growing animosity toward thoughts and ideas at odds with the new emerging morality. An open and free society must respect differing viewpoints. Political correctness, a concept born of the Soviet Union where loyalty to the communist party and its beliefs was strictly enforced, will bring about great injustices if allowed to take deeper root in our society. Under the pretext of political correctness the Soviets imprisoned and enslaved dissidents and their families, or simply shot them, in order to foster a better culture free of political incorrectness. Such cannot be called a form of morality. No, it is pure and simple terrorism.

What is missing from the new morality is the same ingredient that is absent whenever injustice or immorality exists. The missing element is God. He is the only one who can definitively specify what is and what is not moral. Indeed, one culture that murders millions of babies in the womb cannot pass judgment on the likes of Nazi Germany, Cambodia under the rule of Pol Pot, or North Korea. To the degree that God is absent from the new morality we will see injustice blossom forth. Those who loot, vandalize, and disrupt saying ‘no justice, no peace’ are quite wrong. It should be ‘No God, no morality, no justice, and no peace.

—Fr Booth