February 27, 2014

Liberalism’s Achilles’ Heel

By In Blogs, C.Jay Engel

If I had time to deconstruct the article from which I am going to quote, I would most definitely do so, line by line.  But time is of the essence.  Nonetheless, I noticed something very important while reading an article in The Daily Beast that has been making the rounds.  Of course, I noticed it being cited multiple times on the blogs of various religious liberals who were discussing the recent Arizona Bill (my post on the topic is here).  But the quote that is too important for me to pass up reads as follows:

Many on the left and right can agree that nobody should be unnecessarily forced to violate their conscience. But in order to violate a Christian’s conscience, the government would have to force them to affirm something in which they don’t believe. This is why the first line of analysis here has to be whether society really believes that baking a wedding cake or arranging flowers or taking pictures (or providing any other service) is an affirmation.

There are many things to say to this I suppose, but one thing stands out.  Stop. Go back and read only the first two sentences.

Okay, I trust that you did that.  Now, it appears that what the authors have to do, the task before them, is to show that it would not actually violate the Christian’s conscience, that is, conflict with their beliefs, if the government forced them to provide goods and services in certain settings.  That is a monumental task and I don’t think that the authors realize what they just stated.  Because while it may not harm their consciences to serve goods at a homosexual wedding, clearly it did for the business owners.  How could the authors possible get around this?  Can they really assert that there are Christian business owners whose consciences would not be violated?  The very existence of this debate shows how bold that claim really is.  We are not talking, at the moment, about whether or not the conservative Christians are justified in their beliefs (I believe they are), we are talking about whether they should be forced to violate their conscience.  And the authors seek to show that no conscience would actually be violated.

And it is here that we find liberalism’s Achilles’ heel.  For notice how they jumped from discussing the conscience of the Christian to the collectivist and mysterious, indeed unidentifiable, “society” in the third sentence.  Problem: society does not have beliefs.  Society does not have a mind.  Society does not have a conscience.  You cannot show that government edict would violate conscience of the Christian by pointing to what “society really believes.”  Society is made up of millions of individuals, each with different world views, beliefs, convictions, etc.  There is not collective mentality.  It is invented so as to push a narrative that could not have been pursued by only considering the individuals in society.  It is a fantastical leap to answer the question of violation of the Christian’s conscience by considering society as a whole.

It is the folly of ethics defined by majority vote, order established by political democracy.  While astoundingly popular today, such is the path to tyranny and the abolition of freedom of association.

 

 

Written by C.Jay Engel

Editor and creator of The Reformed Libertarian. Living in Northern California with his wife, he writes on everything from politics to theology and from culture to economic theory. You can send an email to reformedlibertarian@gmail.com
  • RA Jameson

    So true C.Jay. Democracy gave ‘society’ a voice. And it has gone downhill from there.