Rampant relentless relativism?

Posted: May 10, 2003 12:00 AM

It's been a good month for moral relativism. We've had the YWCA's anointing of Patricia Ireland, the Connecticut Supreme Court's ruling that the fetus is another body part, the Rick Santorum controversy, and the Bill Bennett revelation.

I suppose it's the business of the Young Women's Christian Association if it wants to appoint former National Organization for Women (NOW) President Patricia Ireland as its leader. But Ireland has admitted she's not a Christian and that she plans to make the YWCA into a strong political force. Shouldn't the organization at least change its name so as not to send the false impression that it will be promoting Christian values? Or are we ogres for expecting such distinctions and insisting on truth in labeling?

Next, the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled that a fetus is part of the mother's body within the meaning of Connecticut's assault and sexual assault statutes. Pro-life groups are understandably upset because they are apparently concluding the ruling is tantamount to saying the unborn is not a separate being.

But in fairness, after reading the opinion, I don't think the court was making a statement either way on that point. It was merely addressing the issue of whether the defendant was guilty of assaulting the mother when he inserted two pills into her vagina with the intent of killing the unborn.

The statutes are clear that the defendant could only be found guilty of assaulting the mother if he intended to destroy or permanently disable a "member" or "organ" of her body. Had the court ruled the fetus was neither a "member" nor "organ" of her body, the defendant would have walked. To summarize, it affirmed the defendant's conviction, finding that even though a fetus was not permanently attached to the mother's body, it was still a "part" of it.

I don't believe the court's decision that the unborn is a part of the mother's body is necessarily inconsistent with it having an independent existence. Indeed, Chief Justice William J. Sullivan wrote a separate, concurring opinion to make this very point. But it's unfortunate the majority was not as clear as Justice Sullivan was. Perhaps they intended not to be, for fear of diminishing "abortion rights." As it stands, the ruling is a victory for pro-choicers and relativists, who will use it to advance their cause.

Moving to the Santorum issue, I just read a particularly vicious editorial revisiting the Pennsylvania senator's comments regarding homosexuality, sodomy laws and the judicially fabricated constitutional right to privacy. Columnist Gene Collier is indignant that Santorum won't apologize -- presumably for affirming his belief that homosexual behavior is sinful. Collier related that a small group of parents of gay children who met with Santorum in Washington were upset with his attitude, including his lack of contrition.

How dare Santorum not cave to the bullying demands of the vocal minority that he repudiate his faith! That's what we're talking about here. Unless you concede the relativists' premise that no values are superior to any others, you are an intolerant, immoral S.O.B. The problem is that if you truly subscribe to Judeo-Christian ethics, you cannot honestly say that morality is a subjective matter, varying with the preference of every individual. So Collier's real beef, it seems, is not particularly with Santorum, but with all believing Christians and observant Jews who refuse to say God's laws were written in shifting sands rather than stone.

Finally, as to the Bennett matter, it appears the relativists could benefit in several ways. They win if we say that gambling -- even amounts sufficient to put your family at risk -- is not immoral. And they win if we say that gambling such amounts is immoral, because one of the leading spokesmen for virtuous living will thereby be discredited to some degree for having done it -- assuming he did.

The important lesson here is that we do not succumb to the seductive temptation to abandon or dilute our standards, just because events sometimes graphically remind us that none of us can consistently live up to them. Surely even those who reject the God who wrote the Judeo-Christian rule book can recognize, as self-evident, His revelation that we are all sinners.

We must not let the relativists prevail in their relentless quest for a valueless society. They'll try anything -- including turning Scripture, such as "Judge not lest ye be judged," on its head. It requires courage to stand firm for Judeo-Christian values, because those who dare to do so are morally condemned by those who say we have no right to make moral judgments. And they want to talk to us about Bennett's hypocrisy?


Correction: In my previous column, I attributed a quote to Steven Spielberg that was reported in other usually reliable news publications. I have since been advised that Mr. Spielberg did not say the words attributed to him and so I retract that statement and apologize for the error.