The Christian Sense of Wrong and Right
The Highwaymen made famous a song written by Jarvis and Cook about two kids raised . . .
In the crystal sense of wrong and right
We were born and raised in black and white . . .
but the very concept of right and wrong–of morality–has come under serious attack in the past 150 years.
Nietzsche was perceptive and prescient upon insisting that there was a connection between God and ethics, between God and morals. Kill God, and anything goes. But, for Nietzsche there was a “trade off”. Kill God, and we kill off morals. But we are left with man. Man can grow and develop to be an Uberman, a man with a big chest, a being who would take the place of God and determine his own morals, a morality that was worthy a superman. Nietzsche sought to kill God off in order to enable man to take His place and assert himself as a demi-god.
The West has lived with the notion of a dead God and big-chested men for over 150 years.
Whilst being eagerly taken up by the chattering classes, it’s not making as much progress as hoped. Neither is the idea that there is no such thing as right and wrong. Amorality may appear at first glance to make man a more advanced and superior being. But it quickly crumbles into dust. Why? Because man cannot escape what he is–a creature created by the Living God and in His image. He cannot escape thinking in moral categories, of thinking “in the crystal sense of wrong and right”.
The story is told that Nietzsche had successfully killed God. Yet one day he was driven to apoplexy because he saw a beast being foully mistreated in the street. He descended into madness and never recovered, dying an imbecile. God was not dead at all. Nietzsche could not escape the conscience God had woven into the fabric of his being. His compassion for an animal (a deeply religious concept) should have been easy to shrug off for an Uberman. But in the end a crystal sense of morality caught up with him and provoked his madness.
So it is with modern Western culture. At every hand we proclaim amorality and that morals can never be more that a mere a social construct for the convenience of Ubermen. Men make morality; Ubermen are never subject to it. Part of the drive to be Supermen expresses itself in the incessant lust for “freedom rights”. What a Superman wants, a Superman should get. Do we want to gamble? Since we are Uberman, we should all have the freedom to do as we please. The function of law is to remove any restrictions to our self-expression. Morals become the hand-maiden of the right to do and be as one chooses. If we want it, it is right by definition. Morals in the modern world are voluntaristic by definition. Therefore, morality and ethics are profoundly relative. And that is as it should be. It befits a race of Ubermen.
Take the case of prostitution. One group of Ubermen declares it wants to employ the services of prostitutes. Another proclaims that prostitutes have a moral right to pursue the profession of choice. All very Nietzschean. Morality dies. God dies.
Not so fast. Men cannot deny what they are. And men are divine constructs, not Darwinian accidents. The rejection of amorality and a re-assertion of a crystal sense of wrong and right continues to percolate everywhere, like a Rotorua mudpool, for the “crystal sense of morality” is actually the Christian sense of wrong and right, and God will not be denied.
Several years ago in New Zealand prostitution was made a legally recognized, lawful occupation. The Ubermen had declared it to be moral, deserving of all the protection of the law as any other lawful profession or occupation. This Nietzschean move made it perfectly permissable to have brothels in residential houses in quiet neighbourhoods. After all, freedom rights recognized a person’s right to run a seamstress business out of a residential home. Why not a brothel? Why not indeed?
But then the mudpool starts boiling. The words employed in the argument are instructive. This, from the NZ Herald:
A Mt Eden property owner has been compelled to send a letter to neighbours telling them his house is not a brothel after another resident delivered flyers claiming that it was. The Auckland Council has inspected the address and confirmed it is not being used as a brothel, but says a previous owner of the property may have run an online escort agency from the house.
Last week, neighbours received an anonymous flyer in their letterboxes asking them if they knew that the new owners of a Grange Rd property had put in an application for a brothel. “It hasn’t even been approved, and they have a website and are currently renovating ready for business. Do we want this on our road? Close to primary schools and kindergartens, in a respectable residential area, surrounded by families with young children,” the flyer said. It urged neighbours to call the council to make a complaint.
Not much respect for Supermen there. Clearly the local populace believes such things are wrong.
But the owner of the property, who rents it out and did not want to be named, said the claims were untrue. “The accusations they’ve made about what they’ve seen or haven’t seen are totally incorrect,” he told the Herald. “It’s more than a headache, really. No one likes to be accused of such things.” (Emphasis, ours).
Now that a pretty clear sense of wrong and right. Crystal, one might say.
The recent lust in the West for man to become Ubermen, men with big chests, men determining at their own pleasure the very foundations of morality, will not last. In the end we will not be able to deny our own being. One can live in denial only so long.
We were not only created in God’s image, we were also wrought to think His thoughts after Him. No amount of relativist, voluntarist, and amoral legislation is going to change that.
Those who persist in denial, risk Nietzsch’s asylum.