Who thinks morality is a product of social development? Many of our university professors believe that. Who says morals change along with human progress? Why almost every text book on ethics written in the twentieth century. Maybe someone reading this was taught the same thing. It wasn't commonly held in the nineteenth century, but someone made it very popular in his 1938 book: Their Morals and Ours.
The writer was Lev Bronstein, son of wealthy Jewish farmers. Money bought him the best schooling. In his final year at school he abandoned the faith of his ancestors and embraced atheism. He felt free of moral absolutes and rejected the authoritative institutions of his day. Lev changed his name and founded a workers union to oppose the state. He was imprisoned. There he married, fathered two girls, escaped from jail and abandoned his family. In England he married again and they had two sons. He taught that freedom from restrictive morals meant being able to do whatever profits one best.
Under his new name, Leon Trotsky, he returned to Russia to take part in the 1917 Communist Revolution. We credit him for the formation of the Red Army. He became the Party's second-in-command under Lenin. The problem with befriending people who embrace fluid morals is that there is no ultimate fairness. Lenin died and Joseph Stalin saw Trotsky as a threat to his power and exiled him from the Soviet Union. Trotsky died in Mexico in 1940 with an assassin's ice pick in his skull.
The point isn't just that fluid morals served Trotsky badly, but that the whole Soviet Socialist system he helped build, brought great sorrow to our world. They set out to establish a new civilization of equality, scientific advancement, peace and progress and ended up with a crumbling edifice of heavy-handed state controls on ever diminishing resources. Trotsky and Lenin's writings are a house built on the sandy belief that the average person is noble, kind, honest and hard-working. Even you might have been duped to believe that!
The Federalist Papers - the arguments upon which the US Constitution rests - took, instead, the Biblical view of the fallenness of humanity. So ask yourself why the Trotsky view of morals is so ardently taught by modern American ethicists. Only someone so foolish as to think Cuba is a fine example and worthy of readmission to the club of civilized nations would be gullible enough to embrace fluid morality. If only such folks were just an idiot fringe in America.
The Founders of this nation launched the American experiment on the premise of fixed morality. They believed in it so much that the first act of congress was to fund and command that an edition of the Bible be placed in every school in the land. Today my church can't get the schools to accept a gift of a plaque saying "in God we trust" for every classroom in town. The Bolsheviks banned the mention of God in all schools after January 1922. Which way are we leaning?
You don't have to be a prophet to know that without a fixed morality that exists outside our society, we too will experience two things. One will be a continued slide towards maximum indulgence of personal preferences and the other will be increasing intolerance of any who still insist on a fixed standard of morality.
Pamphlets in the 1930 Library of the Young Atheist in Russia denounced the name Christmas Tree. By 1935 it was given the new name Holiday Tree. How coincidental to our life now in America! So what's my conclusion about fluid morality? No, what matters most is, having read this, what is your opinion about any country pegging its moral standards at the level of what its intelligentsia find fashionable?
Andrew Paton of Clinton Church of the Nazarene, born in Africa, has pastored in Hunterdon County since 1997. Before that he ministered in Durban and Bedfordview, South Africa and prior to that was an officer in The Salvation Army. He has been in full time Christian leadership since 1975. He and his wife Carol have two married sons and five grandchildren.
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