I just know redistribution of wealth is morally right! Maybe I can’t clearly articulate why. I don’t hate the wealthy, but I care for the plight of the poor, and that outweighs my discomfort for perhaps unjustly imposing greater burdens on the wealthy. We must do something for the poor and redistribution seems to be the most expedient solution. We spend too much time arguing this issue. I‘m a compassionate, caring human being and I want action now.
I just know gay marriage is morally wrong! Every fiber of my being tells me I’m correct, but every word out of my mouth betrays my cause. I argue about child rearing. I argue about stability of relationships. I argue about commitment. In every case straight couples undermine my arguments with their behaviors. I concede I can’t argue my case rationally, and yet I faithfully hold onto my views. Where’s the protection of my beliefs, which are founded on faith and not on rationality?
Faith v. Rationality
People of faith are often unpracticed in argumentation, in apologetics.
The mystics have a good point. The consequence of saying that God is beyond anything creaturely is that he cannot be spoken about. Since every word we use was originally used to designate something within the world, something real like a horse, an apple pie or beautiful woman or something imaginary like a unicorn or the beauty of Nicole Kidman … We have to use language that originates in our everyday usage of language which is ultimately inadequate to talk about God. Yet we have no other language at our disposal and we cannot remain silent. We should thus be very much aware of the fact that God talk is a venture with certain risks. … Since God is beyond finitude we can not bring God into a scientific [i.e., linguistic] framework. – Excerpted from The Whitney Humanities Center – A Universe of One’s Own; Cosmology, Theology and Atheology, Taede Smedes (39:20) ₪
We congregate with others of faith without need for apology, and only occasionally engage non-believers in an uneasy talk about their beliefs.
Rationalist can explain everything within their own narrow worldviews. We gave them the language adequate for the task. They are quick to dismiss as superstition, ignorance, prejudice or fantasy the vast realms outside their conceptions. The leap beyond rationality into the absurd is for them, well, absurd. Rationalists claim to be able to get along with everyone, to have political principles which enable them to work with people whose moral values differ from their own. That’s only because they first frame all talk in terms of rationality or economic cost-benefit analyses (e.g., lower crime rates in communities where abortions are more available). Religious dogma is to them irrational and out-of-bounds.
The Gift of Grace
How do you argue with someone who hasn’t yet received the gift of grace and at best has a culturally-warped view of it? When grace comes your entire body trembles, you stand naked in front of the infinite, you sob uncontrollably in shame at your inadequacy to receive the gift, and then, miraculously, you emerge as a new being. To non-believers this is just a bunch of hocus-pocus. But to believers it’s the greatest gift to the world, and one in which we wish all to share.
God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper. – Romans 1:28
Despite evidence from their own disciples (e.g., Freud, Nietzsche, Sartre) rationalists still want to believe they can rightly order their own minds unaided. They acknowledge the minuscule t of their truths, yet live their lives as though it were a majuscule. They acknowledge the fingerprint of God in nature and themselves, beauty and symmetry in their equations, yet do not see fit to acknowledge God himself. Though they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice (immoral) things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.
I walk with the dog along the canal and a large tree branch crashes down just missing us. The rationalist says the cause was a weakening of the branch under the force of gravity and I just happened to be there. However I see God’s fingers in the branches now lying tangled on the canal path and ask toward what He is pointing for my purpose. Mine is a personal God that penetrates into every niche of my thought and being, even to the point of refuting the ‘accepted’ facts of gravity. My religious teachings come first, as handed down, and I make room for rationality only as needs be.
You can’t argue a rationalist into this understanding of the world. Grace is a gift bestowed only upon a ready vessel. My ‘argument’ against the legitimization of gay marriage comes from a desire to allow my children and those I love (i.e., the rest of humanity) the freedom to be ‘ready vessels’. We risk much in our God talk, but it seems safe to assume that a hearty approval of immorality does not a ready vessel make. But this makes for a poor excuse of an argument in the court of public opinion.
The faithful use dogma, narrative, obedience in faith, tradition and other founts of wisdom as their moral compass. We mistrust rational arguments, in which the created imposes its morals on the Creator. We argue morality from the top‑down, with theology as the queen of sciences.
These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men – Isaiah 29:13
We use rational arguments to the extent they bolster our theological understanding. With rationalists we use compromise, coexistence, ‘getting along’, reaching across the aisle and open discussions only to the extent they help us gain political advantage.
I fight the good fight and do not falter in the name of toleration, conciliation or ‘shared community’. Fostering a sense of shared community with immorality in the name of democratic comity is surrender. We will not surrender because we know our cause is just and our victory assured. We know we can order our political life to be in kind with our faith.