From a reader:
The folks at Georgetown must be mighty proud. They’ve got a student who has already figured out the linchpin of human civilization just two months into his freshman year. It’s hard to know where to begin addressing someone possessed of such airtight intellectual self-sufficiency. I think the Apostle Paul has your freshman pegged, though: “Professing to be wise, they became fools” (Rom 1:22).
I’m sure the more learned and articulate Corner theologians can do a better job with this kid than I, but it seems to me that his argument about self-interest proves nothing. If you define it broadly enough, anything can be said to be done out of self-interest. For me, the salient point is that God challenges His people to define self-interest in a new way, apart from secular standards of morality. If I act according to self-interest as God defines it, I will inevitably act against self-interest as the secular world defines it. That we have continually failed to live up to God’s standard throughout history is clearly right and just as clearly irrelevant in determining the existence of a divine moral standard.
Thanks for your writing.