Shifting Consensus

Moral Consensus is a great goal for the moral fabric of a nation, except for one slight problem: moral consensus tends to shift over time. When the founding fathers established this great nation, Africans were only for enslaving. When the Greeks established a republic, pederasty was acceptable. As it stands now, moral consensus would include the acceptance of homosexual marriage, and most recently, attempts to eliminate “under God” from the pledge of allegiance.

The reason for this shift is that the foundation for consensus shifts. When the framers of the constitution created their document, natural law was the primary foundation. For the Greeks, the foundation was logic and reason. For a while, Judeo-Christian values were the foundation for consensus. In America today, the Bible, Natural Law and Reason have been replaced with versions of liberty and equality and attempts to create no distinctions whatsoever between gender, race, religion, and so on. Liberty and equality, while great for politics, leave the door open too far for a moral consensus that is anything short of libertine living.

The reality is that the foundation of moral consensus will shift on its own over time toward more ‘free’ living unless people work to keep it anchored to a particular foundation. The goal of this blog has been to renew awareness of moral consensus, which assumes restricting one’s own moral behavior for the greater good rather than the current atmosphere of personal ‘free’ living. On the other hand, the goal of this blog has also been to reverse the slide of moral consensus into a sanctioned free-for-all. The reason for this is simple. If no one is paying attention to the foundation of moral consensus, the foundation will shift without anyone noticing. Like the proverbial frog in the kettle, consensus will shift slowly until the frog suddenly realizes he is cooked. Sadly, this type of shifting and moral decline can be seen in America’s history over the centuries. As we debate and resist the shift of moral consensus in the wrong direction, we actually hope that the decline will reverse.

So how does one shift moral consensus back in the other direction? Debate is a start but it will be ineffective to bring about moral change. Politics will certainly fail as has been demonstrated time and time again over the last century. The answer lies in the Hope of the Gospel. As the Gospel impacts the lives of individuals and as they begin living out the Hope that they have, their lives are transformed and people begin to wonder why. Simply put: Gospel living is better. But this assumes that those who know the Gospel will live it out culturally, socially, publicly, and so on. Far too many Gospel-believing individuals have accepted this culture’s moral foundation of personal liberty, allowing them to think “the gospel is good for me.” This individualistic way of thinking is quite American, but it is also part of the problem. The Gospel is not simply good for me, it’s good for everyone. As individuals have shifted away from the perspective that the Gospel is good for everyone, moral consensus has shifted as well. The way to reverse the trend of moral shift is to reverse our individualistic approach to the Gospel and begin to think of the Gospel as the solution to the world’s need. People tend to establish their foundation for moral consensus on what works, and if those who believe the Gospel will only live their faith publicly, the greater society will see that Biblically moral works and works better.

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