Politics, Persuading, and the Moral Law

I just saw this article, which is a more thorough, and more eloquent, version of the point I've been making with regard to Christians and politics. It's nice to find someone else who agrees with you, and does an even better job explaining himself! The article is long, but I recommend the read - well worth it.

The main point the author makes is that we concerned Christians need to frame our arguments in terms that are accessible to non-Christian Americans. We're deeply concerned about things like abortion, and the breakdown of marriage & family. So we need to learn how to make the case that abortion & family breakdown are bad for our country, whether you're a Bible-believing Christian or not.

The way to do so is to utilize Moral Law - the innate sense all people have of right and wrong, which is accessible through reason. This is the tool C.S. Lewis used so effectively to impact the thinking of millions of secular people in Book 1 of his classic Mere Christianity. And as I wrote previously, it's the tool William Wilberforce used in his anti-slavery crusade, and it's the tool MLK used with such success during the Civil Rights era.

A sample from the article, which illustrates the difference between making a purely "religious" argument and making a more broadly accessible, moral argument:

"Rather than argue that abortion is contrary to God’s law and that we need to bring the Constitution into conformity with God’s law, social conservatives should argue that as a matter of scientific fact the child in a mother’s womb is a whole, living human being, and that as a matter of moral truth the direct killing of any peaceable human being is gravely unjust..."

And another sample:
"Nor should social conservatives be afraid to argue for maintaining marriage’s structure. If marriage isn’t the union of one man and one woman coming together as husband and wife to become father and mother to any children their marital love may bring, then social conservatives should demand that their opponents explain what marriage is. Is it simply the union of any consenting pair of sexually active adults? If so, then why only two? And why does it have to be exclusive and permanent—why not open or temporary “marriage”? Indeed, if marriage isn’t about a bodily union, then why limit it to sexual relationships at all? How about codependent relatives? How are marriage and children connected? Do children need mothers and fathers, or not? These debates can and, in fact, must be had at the level of reason."
I daresay we "social conservatives" need to learn how to use the valuable tool of Moral Law and reason, which are both accessible by those around us, as we make the great proposal that there is a better way to live. Maybe a great place to start is to read Book 1 of Mere Christianity to get a sense of what arguing from Moral Law looks like, from a man who did it so well.

3 comments:

Tim KC6QLV said...

Matt:
A very interesting subject. Yes I read book 1 of Mere Christianity, A great Book! RIGHT ON THE MONEY!
Interesting to find out when the General Election in November will bring. YES, LIFE DOES BEGIN AT CONCEPTION!! LET'S Make No Mistake!
Tim
P.S. CAL BEARS 2-0!! on a roll.

Mark and Esthermay Bentley-Goossen said...

So well put. It is a fine line though -- the moral good vs. The Gospel of Christ. Ever see the movie "TimeChanger?" Great lesson.

I want to agree with you in the spirit of making the current political process less hateful, but as one in ministry it's terribly difficult to ignore that these "liberals" need a Savior! And upon finding HIM, their politics and radical and hateful views might indeed change. It's a fine line.

Matt Guerino said...

Mark (or was it Esthermay?), thanks for your comment!

It brings up an important clarification: we should NEVER allow ourselve to think in terms of moral good vs. the gospel... or ANYTHING vs. the gospel for that matter. We are here as ambassadors of Christ, and everyone without Jesus (liberal or conservative) needs him more than they need anything.

The point I'm trying to make is limited to politics - a call to engage with others in a more thoughtful way that has a greater liklihood of gaining a hearing for truth. If we succeed we're stilll not done, of course, because politics is not all of life. But if we're smart we can build on one successful argument (even if it is just moral) to help people see the truth behind the morality - Christ himself.

So my goal isn't necessarily just to make the political process less hateful (although that would be great) but rather it's to be more effective contenders for God's truth in every spehere of life, including politics. Sometimes, as in the case of Wilberforce and King, that still means we say things people find offensive.

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