This discussion has been nice and edifying in its own way, but it might be good at this point to just cut to the brass tacks. In the discussion on Christian liberty below, the question of abortion played a central role. This is not just because abortion is the quintessential moral issue of our day, but because abortion lies at the very heart of the problem of protestant/liberal conceptions of Christian liberty. Darryl’s first instinct was to say that abortion (as a policy matter for polititians, not having or performing one) was not within the realm of liberty. However, when pushed on it, he backed off in order to preserve a hard-line on liberty saying he would have to carefully consider arguments in favor of the Mario Cuomo type politician. If this is where this concept of liberty takes the good, traditionally minded Dr. Hart, I say watch out for where it will take weaker minded and souled men. The reason abortion is so central to this question is because modern conceptions of the liberty of conscience (largely enabled and spawned within and around 20th Century American protestantisms) developed, as Cardinal Pell has written, chiefly as a prop for sexual libertinism: “Why do people strain to accommodate absolute sexual freedom as a matter of conscience? Why does no one plead for the right to racism or sexism as a matter of conscience? Could it be because the liberal concept of conscience has been specially formulated in order to facilitate the sexual indiscipline that our culture upholds?”
Before everyone objects that they are not sexual libertines let me say two things: First, in most ways, it doesn’t matter whether one is personally libertine or not when one considers the origin and effect of the line he takes on liberty. If one does not consider these things, I think he is being duped and is likely naive and therefore somewhat dangerous (harsh words, I know). Second, Darryl’s statement below is somewhat haunting: But I am also convinced that a good church is only as healthy as its families and local community. If our congregations were not commuter entities, with Christians living during the week as anonymous consumers and workers, then maybe communities and families could supply some of the bonds and love that you want the church to yield. Ask yourself this: What is the single best defense against the kind of dislocation and alienation described? Answer: lots of kids early in life. In other words, the conditions lamented here are the direct and predictable fruit of another form of sexual libertinism which is just as much at the heart of protestant/modern/liberal ideas about liberty of conscience as is abortion.
Basic Premise: Until the protestant church begins to change its teaching on the subject of birth control (there is some hope that this might be happening), it is doomed. It doesn’t matter how many blogs, fancy philosophies, smart books, creeds, worldview schools we have, or anything else we might try. Someone asked for clarity. That’s about as distilled a statement as I can make.
If my argument is not persuasive enough on its own terms, and since this seems to be my day for quoting my friend Fr. Jape, I offer as exhibit one the pabalum that is currently being shilled on this subject from within the protestant fold (a hopeless attempt to hold both degraded notions of liberty together with the moral demands of chastity–can’t be done, won’t be done!).
At bottom, I think discussions like these which don’t grapple with the central problems and questions of generational fidelity are just so much hot air.