Why Be Moral? The Contradictions of Postmodern Morality in America -- By: John A. Jelinek

Journal: Journal of Christian Apologetics
Volume: JCA 01:1 (Summer 1997)
Article: Why Be Moral? The Contradictions of Postmodern Morality in America
Author: John A. Jelinek

Why Be Moral? The Contradictions of Postmodern Morality in America

John A. Jelinek*


The ability to maintain mutually contradictory ideas has become a dominant characteristic of the contemporary American mind. American politicians often claim to be political conservatives, but liberal on social issues. Some Americans who personally consider abortion a moral evil, also embrace the idea of “pro-choice.” Traditional ethicists look at abortion in terms of moral absolutes and scientific data (such as: “Is the fetus a human being?”). Many Americans, however, fail to think through their positions and make attempts to finesse the philosophical and scientific issues. Reasoning such as: “Did the woman have a choice in the matter of choosing to have the baby or abort it?” is not uncommon. What really matters is that the action is right for her. If she is coerced either way, the coercion is wrong because she was not given a choice.1 Moreover, these people admit of no external criteria for judging their beliefs. With no absolute criteria to be relied upon for discerning truth, that which is rational is often replaced by what is subjectively “pleasing.”

Consider “Brian,” a man in his late twenties in suburban Detroit. When he visited my church, I was initially impressed by his seeming grasp of theology and love for the Bible. He expressed a belief in the inerrancy of the Scriptures and in what he believed to be a dispensational understanding of theology. Upon further query, however, he also asserted a belief in reincarnation and in Transcendental Meditation. When I pressed him concerning the fact that Christianity and TM are based upon two radically opposing worldviews, he could not see any problem. He enjoys reading the Bible, but he likes the idea of coming back in another life in another form. He could not see that the two systems opposed each other. Further conversation revealed that what was true for me, was not truth for him.

* John A. Jelinek is Professor of Theology at Baptist Bible College and Seminary, Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania.

We live in a permissive time. Consider Ada, a 29 year old widow whose husband died four years ago. She had been struggling alone to raise her six year old son for all of that time, coming to church and professing the faith. One day a man came into her life with kind words. Shortly thereafter she invited him to move in with her and her son. At first, they both claimed to be Christians and did not see anything wrong with their “lifestyle choices.” I asked her, “Would you allow your son, when he becomes a teenager, to ask a young lady to move in with him?” She replied tha...

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