Friday, March 30, 2007
Acts 10:34 - Non Est Personarum Acceptor Deus
In the introduction to his Philosophy of History (which I've been reading with my seniors), Hegel points out that the universal law is not made for individuals, as such. The claim would remain true even if the universal were removed as a qualifier. A law is a command to an entire community or a rule for a particular group within the larger whole - but always for individuals collected.
I had all of this in mind as I read a post from a new blog that I've been reading. I am struck by the importance of our own personal story as we each struggle to come to conclusions about these issues. The author is Chuck Blanchard and the issues he refers to have to do with same-sex relationships.
I am struck by the opposite. Personal stories, either our own or others', often hinder us from coming to conclusions in controversies. Moral judgments, which are the kind of conclusions we're talking about, are very tricky judgments to make. They become even trickier the more particular they get. The New Testament, in no uncertain terms, forbids us from passing judgment on that peculiar bundle of particularities: our neighbor.
In his post Blanchard judges the people he encounters in apparently healthy committed same-sex relationships to be very good people. Now if the New Testament does not allow Blanchard to judge his neighbors in order to condemn, why is he allowed to judge them in order to approve? If God alone can look into a person's soul condemn evil, how can one man look at another and confidently declare that there is no wrong in him or what he does?
The desire to base moral argument on personal experience is disturbing. Why? Because it seems unlawful. Refusing to condemn a practice because it is done by someone we care for is unjust and unfair. It is not love when a judge dismisses the case of a man he knows and likes - it is illegal. There is a Biblical injunction against this in Deuteronomy 1:17: Ye shall not respect persons in judgment.
People are wonderful and their stories are moving. In moral controversy, though, appeals to personal stories obfuscate more than clarify because the universal law is not made for individuals, as such.