[personal profile] wingedbeast
Time Changer is a movie by the Christiano Brothers, about how we've declined in morality over the years. In the movie, a man visits the present (the 2000s at the time of the movie's making) from 1890. The purpose of the visit being that the inventor of the time machine wants our main character to see how bad things can get if people aren't Christian enough.

In an America that has moved past Segregation and has legalized interracial marriage and has given all races legal equality (at least on paper, no we're not done, but for the purposes of this movie let's remember where were as well), in an America that has given women the vote and the right to work outside the home and even high political office, the main character is aghast. People blaspheme on movies, present non-married couples kissing on television for the world to see, shops sell women clothing that does not protect men from lustful thoughts! And, among the greatest of horrors, he's not allowed to use a public school science class as an opportunity to remind children that the bible trumps evidence.

Fred Clark calls this the Narrative of Decline, the presumption that things are getting worse and telling the story of history in that light. I call it lopsided priorities. And, that view of the moral superiority of the past isn't the only place I find them.

I find myself in numberous conversations about the morality of the Old Testament. Genocides, slavery, the role of women. The responses to the objections show much about your priorities.

The response that morality that is not based in Divine Command, thus allowing each of the stated to be morally acceptable, leaves one without objective or binding morality shows that you prioritize having an objective morality over the lives of people. That's not a priority set that an atheist or agnostic will be likely to hold.

The response that it's unlikely that we should expect similar commands in the present shows that you accept death and suffering of others, so long as you don't have to see it, yourself, prioritizing your own comfort over the lives of others.

I can't tell you that those are the wrong values to have or the wrong priorities. I can, however, tell you that those aren't values or priorities that are going to be convincing to me. I'm not going to go along with what you say is required for your priorities, because I don't share them. And, in a lot of cases, once that priority set is stated outright, you probably don't really share them, either, but might have been living by them anyway, letting those priorities go unchallenged.

Maybe, you'll find that the priorities are wrong, not truly in line with your faith. That's good, you'll grow that way. Maybe, you'll find that they seem silly, but that they're still in line and just need to be thought out more thoroughly. That's good, you'll grow that way, too. Maybe, you'll find that they're the right values but you're not living by them well enough to show what they really are. Growth that way, too.

Or, maybe you'll find that you've got some good priorities, because they stand up to examination and challenge. That's a possibility, just don't assume it.

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wingedbeast

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