In the media accounts of Florida Republican Congressman Mark Foley's resignation from the House over allegations of sexually explicit e-mails between himself and House pages, one frequently encounters the word "disgraced" modifying Foley's name and "scandal" to describe his behavior.
These are moral words, created for the purpose of labeling aberrant (and abhorrent) behavior. To show how far we have drifted from any sociological, not to mention theological moorings, consider these definitions from dictionary.com: "aberrant: departing from the right, normal, or usual course"; abhorrent: "causing repugnance; detestable; loathsome."
Right? Normal? Detestable? People who mock such notions ask, "According to whom?" Public schools, popular culture and editorialists at major newspapers have hammered into us this aversion to trans-generational morality. They proclaim that one person's concept and definition of "right" is as valid as another person's and to assert that there is only one right, one normal and one course is to be "judgmental" or "bigoted," attitudes modernity considers a worse "sin" than the behavior that used to be called sinful.
Our sophisticated age demands we not recoil at aberrant behavior, or call it abhorrent. The anti-moral wrecking ball has caused enough damage to our foundations that what remains of a structure is no longer recognizable. NBC edits positive references to God before broadcasting "Veggie Tales," but refuses to edit Madonna's blasphemous depiction of herself on a cross. These decisions are made by the network's "standards and practices" office, which mocks the words because clearly there remain few standards to which practices may be conformed.
Behavior once thought shameful is now paraded openly and promoted proudly to sell books. Former New Jersey Democratic Governor James McGreevey tours the talk show circuit. His presence dares anyone to question the legitimacy of his dumping two wives and having sex with men. He apologizes for his extramarital sexual relations and for putting people on the state payroll that didn't belong there, but he has no intention of changing his behavior.
Bill Clinton has recovered from sex with an intern in the White House and impeachment. He doesn't suffer for having practiced aberrant behavior. Few see him as having disgraced himself. Clinton takes in six figures on the lecture circuit and enjoys rock star status wherever he goes.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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