October 12th 2013

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Articles from this issue:

ENVIRONMENT: IPCC report ignites new row over global warming

MARRIAGE: Same-sex marriage: is it harmless?

TASMANIA: Labor premier and Greens to legalise medicalised killing

CANBERRA OBSERVED: Tony Abbott's first major test: stopping the boats

EDITORIAL: The Abbott government gets down to work...

OPINION: Why Australia should acquire US-built nuclear submarines

FOREIGN AFFAIRS: Challenges loom after Angela Merckel's election win

POPULATION: China may be too late to avert demographic disaster

POLITICAL IDEAS: Replacing agribusinesses with family farms

LIFE ISSUES: Culture of death and our missing moral compass

HISTORY: How King Alfred's reputation fell victim to political correctness

OPINION: David Marr and the white whale

CULTURE: How television can stupefy or stimulate our minds

BOOK REVIEW A rogues' gallery

BOOK REVIEW Intellectual rivals

Books promotion page

Culture of death and our missing moral compass

by Bill Muehlenberg

News Weekly, October 12, 2013

Plenty of people today have a global positioning system (GPS). This has made the job of getting from one place to another much easier. Of course, these devices are not always foolproof; but generally they are a great help in keeping us on course and getting us to our desired destinations.

Without a GPS, or other navigational tools, or good reliable maps, we will forever be getting lost. So such devices are a real must in modern society. But another navigation tool is also a must — yet it is one which most people are without. I refer to a moral map, or a spiritual GPS.

Without reliable and trustworthy moral roadmaps we are likely to end up all over the place. Without a moral compass to help us find the ethical and spiritual due north, we will end up lost, confused and far away from home.

One description of a compass reads as follows: “A compass is a navigational instrument that shows directions in a frame of reference that is stationary relative to the surface of the earth.”

Now that is exactly what we need, morally and spiritually speaking: a frame of reference that is stationary relative to ourselves, that can give us reliable directions. We are in desperate need of such fixed and accurate guidance. And this guidance is not something that we ourselves can come up with.

It must come from without, and of course the Christian faith posits such a compass. The perfect, unchanging and righteous God of the universe is our moral and spiritual compass, and he has given us clear directions in his revealed word.

In it we find an objective, transcendent frame of reference by which we can plot our journey through life. Yet most people today prefer to rely on their own internal guidance system, no matter how dodgy and unreliable. They have rejected a spiritual GPS for their own failed, finite and fallen internal navigation systems.

When a people continue to reject God, his law and his revelation, then God will often abandon them to their worst fate: themselves. People without God and his revelation end up stumbling around in the dark, moving from one disaster to another.

We see this tragically being played out in so much of the West today. We have abandoned God, our only sure compass, and are now left wandering, groping, lost, fumbling about with no clear direction and no sure map. In other words, we are in a spiritual and moral free fall in other words.

Thus evil, depravity and death cults flourish, and we aren’t even aware of how far out of tune we are, morally speaking. Life becomes cheap and the weakest are most at risk.

Examples of this are legion. One caught my eye recently and certainly indicates how much we desperately need a moral compass.

‘Fourth trimester’ abortions

I read about a video made a few months ago showing students at George Mason University, Virginia, signing a petition to legalise abortion after birth.

Tim Brown reported on the circulation of the petition, signed on July 24, which “demanded that lawmakers legalise ‘fourth trimester’ abortions”.

“In other words,” wrote Brown,” they want to fully legalise the murder of a child that has been born” (Freedom Outpost, Powder Springs, Georgia, July 26, 2013).

Campus Reform reporter Oliver Darcy described the event as follows: “Several students at George Mason University (GMU) signed a petition on Wednesday [July 24] demanding lawmakers legalise ‘fourth trimester’ abortions.

“The petition, which was circulated on GMU’s flagship campus in Fairfax [Virginia], just outside Washington DC, by Media Research Center reporter Dan Joseph, said it was aimed at sending ‘a message to our lawmakers that women have the right to choose what to do with their bodies and babies’ even ‘after their pregnancies’.”

“If you don’t know what fourth trimester is, it’s after the baby is already born,” Joseph added in a video showing him collect the signatures. “Currently fourth trimester abortions are illegal in all 50 states,” he told students before asking them to sign his petition. Most student responses varied from “okay” to “cool”.

Wrote Darcy: “One concerned student asked if the procedure would ‘cause harm to the child’.”

“Well the child wouldn’t be there anymore,” responded Joseph. “It’s abortion.”

The student then happily signed the petition (Campus Reform, Arlington, Virginia, July 25, 2013).

Now that is a perfect example of an ignorance or repudiation of God’s revelation, resulting in an utter lack of any moral compass.

As I say, the weak are especially at risk in such a morally numb universe. Joni Eareckson Tada, who has been a quadriplegic for 45 years, especially knows all about this.

She writes: “The weak have never fared well in cultures that view life as dispensable. Roughly seventy years ago in Nazi Germany the first ones to be carted away in the dark from institutions down long hallways in the middle of the night were the weakest of the disabled. Not just any disabled people.

“No, Nazi medical teams singled out disabled people who had no visitors, no family, no advocates, no friends. No one to dare contend for their lives. No Christians were there to say, ‘Stop! She bears the image of God, and we will be her spiritual community. We will keep her connected to reality. We will not let her suffer alone’.”

She continues, “With no moral compass, society does not know what to do with affliction, pain and suffering. No biblical gyroscope exists to give balance to someone [with great suffering], who is struggling with what it means to be human and to live with severe suffering. Disability in a society that has lost its moral centre is viewed as an intrusion to one’s comfort and convenience.

“Now society has downright contempt for suffering. People do everything to eradicate it, to exorcise it surgically, institutionalise it, give it ibuprofen, divorce it — everything but live with it. And it is only a short philosophical hop, skip and jump to the point where society also has contempt for people who suffer” (Joni and Friends, International Disability Center, Agoura Hills, California).

No wonder we see such fervent and frequent pushes for abortion, euthanasia and even infanticide. It comes naturally in a culture which has closed its ears from hearing God, and is therefore reduced to a culture with no moral centre.

Such a society is very ugly indeed, with the weak, vulnerable and suffering the first to go.

Millions of GPSs are being sold all around the globe. We cannot buy a spiritual and moral GPS, but we do know where to get one if we want it. Tragically most people do not want it, however. As a result, our culture will become more and more lost, disorientated and deadened. Such a future does not bode well.

Bill Muehlenberg is a commentator on contemporary issues, and lectures on ethics and philosophy. His website CultureWatch is at: www.billmuehlenberg.com



Oliver Darcy, “WATCH: Students sign petition to legalize abortion after childbirth”, Campus Reform (Arlington, Virginia), July 25, 2013.
URL: www.campusreform.org/blog/?ID=4872

Tim Brown, “University students sign petition to legalize abortion after birth”, Freedom Outpost (Powder Springs, Georgia), July 26, 2013.
URL: http://freedomoutpost.com/2013/07/university-students-sign-petition-to-legalize-abortion-after-birth/

Joni Eareckson Tada, “Pushing back the culture of death”, Joni and Friends (International Disability Center, Agoura Hills, California), November 7, 2006.
URL: http://aehcuhj.joniandfriends.org/radio/5-minute/pushing-back-culture-death/

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