Friday, January 15th, 2010

Updated 1/19/10

Greg Koukl has a really good response to those who say “Who are you to say?” in response to our disapproval of same-sex marriage:

Who are you to say?”  That challenge works both ways.  First, if my disapproval isn’t legitimate, then why is my approval legitimate?  If I don’t have the right to judge something wrong…, I certainly don’t have the right to judge it right….  Second, why is it that I can’t make a moral judgment here, but apparently you can?

The appeal for a change in marriage laws is an attempt to change the moral consensus about homosexuality.  You invite me to make a moral judgment, then you challenge my right to make a judgment when I don’t give the answer you want.

Building on Greg’s thoughts, I think the most concise, tactical response to the “Who are you to say it’s wrong?” challenge is simply to ask in return, “And who are you to say it’s acceptable?”  This response makes it clear that both parties are making claims, and those claims need to be justified.  The burden of proof is not just on the person in favor of prohibition, but is also on the person in favor of permission.

Wesley Smith drew my attention to an article in The Chronicle of Higher Education making the case that environmentalism has become a quasi-religion.  It is worth quoting at length:

There are indeed environmental challenges, and steps must be taken to ameliorate them. But there is another way to understand the unique passion surrounding our need to go green.

Friedrich Nietzsche was the first to notice that religious emotions, like guilt and indignation, are still with us, even if we’re not religious. … Now the secular world still has to make sense out of its own invisible, psychological drama—in particular, its feelings of guilt and indignation. Environmentalism, as a substitute for religion, has come to the rescue. Nietzsche’s argument about an ideal God and guilt can be replicated in a new form: We need a belief in a pristine environment because we need to be cruel to ourselves as inferior beings, and we need that because we have these aggressive instincts that cannot be let out.

Instead of religious sins plaguing our conscience, we now have the transgressions of leaving the water running, leaving the lights on, failing to recycle, and using plastic grocery bags instead of paper. In addition, the righteous pleasures of being more orthodox than your neighbor (in this case being more (more…)