Culture

The Corner

Never Stop Making Moral and Religious Arguments

Late last week I wrote a piece making the case that one of the core reasons for sexual trauma on campus was a mistaken ideology that attempts to drain sex of its inherent spiritual meaning and transforms it into a purely physical, pleasure-seeking act. It’s an ideology that denies the true impact of sexual intimacy on the human heart.

In response, a number of folks mocked me for making a “moral” or — even worse — “religious” argument about sex. Moral arguments don’t work, they said. Religious arguments don’t persuade. People are repulsed when you say some kinds of behavior are actually wrong. People don’t like to be “judged.” The only thing that really works is to argue that any given behavior is “bad for you.” In other words, pie charts about STD’s trump appeals to the conscience. 

There are two things (at least) that render these arguments utterly absurd. First, I note that the admonitions about moral arguments tend to run only one way. The Left’s cultural success isn’t built on charts and graphs and health statistics but rather on moral arguments about dignity, fairness, and fulfillment. And yes they “judge” their ideological and religious opponents. Accusations of bigotry are intended as deeply personal condemnations.

The bottom line is that moral arguments have real power, and they’re even more powerful if only one side is making them. That’s doubly true for religious arguments. Progressive Christians have no trouble quoting scripture to support progressive arguments. Yet all too many conservatives fall for the claim that “no one cares” what the Bible says when standing on orthodox Christian moral principle.

But this makes no sense. Let’s put it this way. Which is more powerful? The God-breathed words and reasoning of the most influential book in human history? Or the arguments I concocted in my pea brain five minutes ago? I’d opt for the former. Oh, and you should realize that our culture is so biblically illiterate that people are often shocked at the power of biblical words and ideas. They have no idea what the Bible says, and they had no idea that its words could resonate so strongly in their hearts.

I refuse to unilaterally disarm. I refuse to leave the moral battlefield to my opponents, and I refuse to remove my best arguments from the conversation. I’m under no illusion that moral or religious arguments persuade everyone. But I do know that they can change nations and cultures. Just ask the Left, they’ve been using morality and religion to change the nation for generations. Conservatives should do the same. 

 

David French — David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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