Tolerance as Moral Principle
Have you ever wondered if the results of Gallup polls are skewed? If you have, the following opening statement from the latest Gallup report may not shock you: “The American public has become more tolerant on a number of moral issues, including premarital sex, embryonic stem cell research, and euthanasia. On a list of 19 major moral issues of the day, Americans express levels of moral acceptance that are as high or higher than in the past on 12 of them, a group that also encompasses social mores such as polygamy, having a child out of wedlock, and divorce.”
As more Americans become willing to live with what used to be unthinkable, the practices in question become more acceptable. In other words, ignoring the murder of a preborn child and calling it choice is nowadays simply a “political issue.” What arrogance!
Perhaps it has not occurred to the framers of this poll and its results that a moral absolute—also known as the Ten Commandments—is not available for amendment. These tenets, as set forth in the Old Testament, are rock solid, just as one would expect given the author.
So why is it that average folks appear vague, or at least willing to reinvent morality based on public perception or generally acceptable behavior? The answer is as clear as a freshwater lake just after a snow: “Moral relativism,” or what some might call the “new morality,” has eaten away at the very fiber of our once Christian nation.
St. John Paul II taught that such recreations of the truth come about “as a result of a loss of awareness of the originality of Gospel morality and as a result of an eclipse of fundamental principles and ethical values themselves.”
When this occurs, behaviors such as acquired abortion, premarital sex, the use of birth control, divorce, human embryonic stem cell research, and homosexual marriages acquire “cultural and social legitimacy.”
But Gallup’s polling also suggests a more sinister type of philosophy. Note that the behaviors listed on the “largely acceptable” list of moral questions, in addition to those noted above, include gambling, buying and wearing clothing made of animal fur, and medical testing on animals.
Putting this in perspective, the obvious question is simply: How in the world can a human being seriously think that gambling, buying a fur coat, or testing a medical treatment on an animal is the moral equivalent of murdering a preborn baby or approving same-sex relationships?
The answer is clear. The Ten Commandments are out the window and the Ten Personal Rules of Behavior are in.
The result of tossing God out the window—or at least disposing of the rules for living life according to His plan—is chaos. This represents a type of idolatry of evil.
Pope Benedict XVI explained it this way in one of his Wednesday homilies: “By obscuring reference to God, the ethical horizon is also obscured, to make room for relativism and an ambiguous conception of freedom, which instead of being liberating ends up binding man to idols.”
This is how many of our fellow Americans arrive at the conclusion that owning an animal-skin fur coat has moral value in their personal belief system while killing a preborn child has none. Owning the coat is wrong, but killing the child is a simple matter of personal choice.
This is why our message of hope and confidence in the structure God has put in place for man’s moral good leads us to learn from opinion polls like this. We are thus able to better serve our fellow human beings as we reintroduce them to the values that lead to joy instead of misery, hope instead of despair.
Today’s dogma of tolerance is really not a moral principle; it is a curse. Or as G.K. Chesterton stated, “Tolerance is the virtue of the man without convictions.”