Is morality just a set of personal preferences? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.
There’s an image going around Facebook again with a message like this:
Don’t like abortion? Don’t have one. Don’t like gay marriage? Don’t have one. Don’t like porn? Don’t watch it. You can see from here how it is going. I also see there are some variations of it online. However, the last part of each one is “Don’t like having your rights taken away. Don’t take away someone else’s.”
It is sad that our society today considers this sound reasoning.
At the start, let’s consider that it is saying that if you don’t like something, don’t do it. Okay. Let’s suppose it was the opposite. Let’s suppose I do like those things. Does that mean that if I did like taking away someone else’s rights, then I should be free to do that? Does this come down to what we like?
Second, images like this ignore the main question. Why aren’t these things liked? (And furthermore, why are we even using the term “like.” It makes me think I’m not discussing what moral practice I want to uphold or condemn but what movie I want to watch at the theater.) Could it be there are actual objections that say that “I don’t support X because X is wrong.”
Take abortion as an example. Could it be that some people oppose abortion because they believe the following statements are true?
Human life is in the image of God.
Human life begins at conception.
When conception take place, a new human life has entered the world.
Innocent human life should be protected.
All innocent humans have a right to live.
If we believe those things, then it follows that we should conclude abortion is immoral. For the sake of argument, our position could be wrong. It could be one of those statements or more is false. The aspect we cannot be wrong on is that we know that we believe those statements to be true. Again, you can say we’re wrong, but we condemn abortion because we believe it to be immoral.
Porn is an example of this. I know men who are addicted to porn. You know what? Some of them would say they like porn! They want more of it! They want to see it! They just know that it’s wrong. You can like something and know it’s wrong. In fact, the reason we all return to our sinful habits some is because we like them. If sin was not something we liked, sin would not be such a problem.
When we get to the end, what we note immediately is that this switched from personal preferences to moral absolutes. The others were things you did that generally involved your own private life. (though not entirely) This last one involves your interaction with others directly.
However, if the other statements are not based on moral truths, why should I think this one is? If all others are just personal preferences, could we not say that this is a personal preference as well? In fact, why should I care about someone else’s personal preference, which is a moral claim. Suppose it’s just that I don’t like abortion. Okay. I condemn it. Someone else does like it. Why should I care? By what moral standard will I be told that I should not go against what someone likes if there is no moral truth?
Someone could say I’m being a hypocrite. This is interesting since for all the stances people have on morality, most of us condemn being a hypocrite. Last month, I debated an atheist on the Razor Swift podcast who had said that God was not consistent with his moral principles. I found this interesting since he had espoused a moral relativism and so I just started asking that if morality is relative, what is wrong with being a hypocrite? It’s saying “There are no moral standards, but it’s immoral to not follow your own personal standard.” That becomes a moral standard that is put on everyone else.
Cliches like the ones used in the image lead to the lack of thinking among the masses and shut down good discussion. It is those who do not think who will be persuaded of this.