Minority Opinions

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Legislating morality

with 2 comments

Sometimes it feels like religious questions dominate the political atmosphere.  Not blatantly, most of the time, but pervasively.  Given the history of the country, perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised; it can feel like Americans are always crusading about something or other.  Unfortunately, people can forget that both sides have solid backing in Judeo-Christian morality, partly because they prefer  to focus on different aspects.  I have come to think of the major philosophy as Purity vs. Charity.

Charity Purity
Everybody should have enough to eat. People should get to keep what they earn.
Everyone should have affordable access to health care. I should be able to decide whether I need insurance.
Mandatory public education benefits society as a whole. Parents should decide what to teach their children.
It would be merciful to let the elderly die on their own terms, with dignity. We must prevent voluntary termination of human life whenever possible.
Under certain circumstances, an abortion can be the best way to ease overall suffering and/or death. Your offspring counts as human from the moment of conception. Implantation, at the very latest.
If we teach our children enough information, most of them will make wise decisions. If we protect our children from learning about something wrong, they won’t ever think to do it.
New and Improved Tried and True

I could add more examples, but my own biases make it tricky to think evenly about each side.  Speaking of which…

The Bible displays an interesting trend of its own along these lines.  Jehovah and the Old Testament in general are more Purity-aligned, while Jesus and the New Testament are more Charity-aligned.  Granted, there are counter-examples, but as a general trend it’s pretty obvious when you look.  As for myself, I would like to consider myself a Christian, following His example and teachings, including Matthew 5 and the Book of James.

How about you?  Do you feel like we should be doing more to preserve the sanctity of marriage, or to promote stable family relationships between any set of consenting adults?


Written by eswald

4 Mar 2011 at 4:40 pm

Posted in Politics

2 Responses

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  1. Here are some related ideas about foundations of morality: http://www.ted.com/talks/jonathan_haidt_on_the_moral_mind.html

    And here are some meta-thoughts from Paul Graham about politics:

    Daniel Reeves

    6 Mar 2011 at 2:09 am

    • Thank you. I posted this partly out of a desire to think it through, and your links offer great insight. It was particularly enlightening to realize that it’s not as clear-cut as I thought, given that the liberal side tends to emphasize purity of food


      8 Mar 2011 at 10:06 am

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