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Serious Christians need not apply: Absolute Moral Relativism mandatory for "ethical" counselors [Updated]

By now many of you have already heard of the recent grant of summary judgment to Eastern Michigan University by a federal judge in the case of Julea Ward and EMU's counseling program. The judge's opinion is here.

The Alliance Defense Fund is also litigating a similar case, recently filed, on behalf of Jennifer Keeton against officials at Augusta State University in Georgia. The complaint is here.

Both documents make for very interesting reading. I'm going to try to boil the matter down for interested readers, but if this kind of thing is your bag, I do encourage you actually to read the documents.

The American Counseling Association has (the irony will not be lost on you) a code of ethics which secular counseling programs have incorporated into their curricular requirements. (I don't know what Christian counseling programs do.) This code of ethics and the counseling course textbooks are chock-full of code language about diversity, tolerance, and not "imposing" one's values, especially in the context of (you will be so surprised) homosexuality, which code language is not hard to interpret: American counselors are supposed to aim for value neutral counseling as an ideal (though some textbooks acknowledge that it is not a perfectly attainable one), to affirm their clients' values and set their own aside in counseling, and to be especially sure not to judge homosexual behavior to be wrong. Got it?

The crucial point in the EMU case is just this: Counselors are not permitted either to refer homosexual clients (consistently) to other counselors or to counsel the client in a way that does not affirm homosexual behavior as normal and legitimate. Various textbooks and the ACA guidelines allow for referrals under some circumstances, and Julea Ward evidently took this to mean she could use the referral option in such cases. But what emerges is that referrals are allowed only as a last resort, after the counselor has tried to be a good moral relativist in the counseling relationship, not as a matter of course when the counselor has reason to believe in advance that he will be unable in good conscience to affirm the client's behavior.

Julea Ward realized that the one thing she certainly would not be permitted to do would be to counsel the client in accordance with what she believed to be the truth concerning the true best interests of the client, the self-destructive nature of the homosexual lifestyle, etc. Her training was sufficiently clear on that point--any such counseling would be deemed "imposing" her values on the client. So she sought to maintain what she thought were the required professional standards by referring the client. Not good enough, said her trainers. They instituted an inquisition, and she was expelled from the program after she made it clear that she would not affirm the normality of homosexual behavior in the course of counseling. One reads with some wryness the judge's comment on this point. Why, she wasn't expelled for referring a client! Goodness, no! She was expelled for making it clear in subsequent conversations that she would not engage in "gay affirming" counseling and for refusing to undergo a "remediation program" to induce her to do so (p. 14 of the opinion). Well, that's all right, then. They were simply applying bona fide educational standards to the situation.

In Miss Keeton's case, the situation is just as clear. Her trainers also referred to the ACA standards (of moral relativism). But Miss Keeton actually agreed to undergo remediation. Her trainers, however, feared that perhaps she did not understand. In meeting after meeting, they insisted that she must understand: She could not merely go through the motions in her remediation program (which consisted in inundating her with material and contacts preaching the normality of homosexuality and included the strong recommendation that she attend a Gay Pride parade). She must show throughout the remediation program that she understood the absolute requirement that she not "impose her values" on her clients. Miss Keeton, a bit more pliant than Miss Ward, said that she did not believe she would impose her values on her clients but that she would not positively affirm the rightness of homosexual behavior. This Thomas More-like response of silence was not enough. Her teachers realized full-well what they meant by "imposing one's values." They realized that Miss Keeton actually believed that some moral statements are objectively true, not having really internalized a thoroughgoing moral relativism. We can't have that, now.

In a revealing e-mail intended as a response to a supposed misunderstanding by Miss Keeton, her professor Dr. Schenck wrote the following (p. 17 of the complaint):

Jennifer, you misinterpreted what I was saying. I do not expect you to change your personal beliefs and values. What is the issue is if you believe your personal beliefs and values should be the same beliefs and values for all people. This is the unethical part--applying your own personal beliefs and values on other people and not truly accepting that others can have different beliefs and values that are equally valid as your own.

Well, yes, that is clarifying, isn't it? And of course answering it is like shooting fish in a barrel. It reminds me a bit of this amusing takedown of Deepak Chopra. The self-refutation argument for moral relativism is almost too easy to make. So, all together now, boys and girls:

"DR. SCHENCK, ISN'T THAT STATEMENT ABOUT WHAT IS UNETHICAL JUST A STATEMENT OF YOUR OWN PERSONAL BELIEFS AND VALUES?"

From the professional perspective, ethical relativism is not only impossible but undesirable in counseling. How would that apply to, say, a client whose values include the idea that he must beat his wife and daughter for their own good? What about a client who just wants to get the rehab officer off his back because he doesn't want to kick his drug habit? Obviously, if counseling is supposed to be one of the "helping" professions, we have to have some idea of what "helping" is. Clients whose goal is to continue behavior that is self-destructive or harmful to other people should not be assisted to reach that goal and are not being genuinely helped by terminal non-judgmentalism. (It is telling that one example Miss Keeton's professors gave her was the supposed professional duty to affirm a woman's decision to have an abortion.) This should be obvious even to secular counseling professionals, but evidently it is not.

Legally, I suppose that the question of religious freedom will turn on the question of whether the "educational" requirements made upon Miss Ward and Miss Keeton were truly discriminatory against their religious beliefs. Considering that Christianity, along with several other religions, is incompatible with moral relativism, one might think the answer would be obvious. Certainly by the standard of "disparate impact" it should be clear that public universities that require their counseling students to be moral relativists are applying a standard that will de facto eliminate the participation of serious, orthodox Christians. And forcing them to counsel consistently as moral relativists is imposing a very strong speech requirement, one that goes far beyond, say, requiring a student to explain a position contrary to his own or to take a different side from his own in a debate. Whether anyone in the legal food-chain will care about these facts, which would seem to make these programs illegal under present anti-discrimination law and possibly First Amendment jurisprudence, remains to be seen.

In related news, Dr. Ken Howell has been reinstated to teach Catholic thought at the University of Illinois. I have read elsewhere that his salary will now be paid by the university rather than by the Newman Center.

[Update] I've decided to say a bit more about the subject of “compelled speech” which comes up in the judge's opinion on Julea Ward. The judge cites the Axson-Flynn precedent to support the conclusion that a college may compel speech in order to further a legitimate academic goal. Let's put that together with the fact that the judge expressly states that what Miss Ward refused to do was to engage in “gay affirming counseling.” So the speech that EMU is supposed to be constitutionally permitted to compel is “gay affirming counseling” by Miss Ward.

The Axson-Flynn case concerned a Mormon young lady who was compelled to say the “f word” and other phrases (such as taking the Lord's name in vain) as part of performing scenes in acting class. The court ruled that she could be compelled to do so in order to complete the acting program, provided that the requirement was motivated by genuine pedagogical concerns rather than by anti-Mormon sentiment. (This approach is similar to that taken in the California case in which students were required to learn about Islam by play-acting being Muslims.) The judge in the Axson-Flynn case (quoting an earlier precedent) cites the following additional situations in which a school might compel speech, even speech in some sense expressing an opinion contrary to the student's own, for educational purposes: A history professor might require students to write a paper defending prohibition. A law school professor might require students to write (mock) opinions showing how particular justices might analyze a question.

What is common to all these situations is that the students in them are being compelled to speak only where others will not or need not believe that they actually believe what they are saying. They are merely stating the case for another point of view, play acting, and the like. Or that, at least, is the claim.

One would hope that the conclusion in the Axson-Flynn case would have been different had a state school compelled the student to take the name of God in vain off-stage as well as on-stage, perhaps on the grounds that this is the normal way that actors behave and hence has become a standard of the acting industry!

In the case of Miss Ward, the compelled speech in question--specifically, the “affirmation” of homosexual behavior--is to take place in a real-life situation where it appears to the client to represent Miss Ward's real beliefs. This is to take the Axson-Flynn precedent far beyond its applicable context. If a state school can compel a student to engage in speech against his religious beliefs in a real-world context where the speech will seem to others in the context truly to express his own beliefs, it is difficult to see how such a school's ability to compel speech can be limited at all. By such logic it would be constitutional for a state school to compel an atheist or a Muslim student, perhaps as an exercise in cross-cultural understanding, to attend a Christian revival meeting, go forward at the altar call, and pray to accept Jesus Christ as Savior. Indeed, since Miss Ward's “gay affirming counseling” could come up repeatedly during her counseling practicum, it would seem that such a cultural experience should be able to be constitutionally extended over a period of months to require the atheist or Muslim student to attend church repeatedly after his apparent conversion. The pretense that this is not a matter of violating a student's religious beliefs is egregious, of course, and it is just as egregious in Miss Ward's case.

Of course, in Miss Keeton's case any pretense that this is not a matter of compelling belief or penalizing belief will be even harder to maintain, since Dr. Schenck expressly states in her e-mail that it is Miss Keeton's belief (regarding beliefs and values) that is at issue. Since Christianity is incompatible with the moral relativism Dr. Schenck is requiring, one would hope that the courts would recognize that Miss Keeton has a knock-down case of an attempt to compel her to change her beliefs.

Comments (107)

They have a code of ethics. Presumably, that code of ethics includes things like, "if your client tells you he is about to commit a violent crime, you must inform the police", and other such things. Why don't they just say, "it is immoral to believe that homosexuality or homosexual conduct is in any way defective or immoral. It is also immoral to believe that there is anything intrinsically wrong with any sex-act between consenting adults, unless there is plausibly a way that sex act affirms the patriarchy"? Would that be too vague? Or would there be a legal problem with that?

I should have said: "given that they have a code of ethics, why don't they include in that code, "it is immoral..."? I mean, they aren't relativists, obviously--no one is, not really. I wasn't affirming that the code I imputed to them was correct.

It's a good question whether this code of ethics includes explicit statements about what you must _believe_. At one point it appears to, because it says that ethical counselors must not "condone" discrimination. "Condone" appears to be about belief. But more often, the code (and the textbooks, which seem to be echoing and amplifying it) appear from the quotations I have seen to try to prescribe and proscribe behaviors--e.g., "imposing" your values on your clients. I suppose it makes them feel better somehow to say that most of the time rather than saying that it is immoral to believe things.

If you read through the quotations, the opinion, and Keeton's complaint, it really does appear that these counseling professors believe that complete moral relativism is not only possible but is highly desirable and "professional," that it is the only way to have a professional approach. I wouldn't be surprised if they also think it's "scientific" and "objective."

Well, you see that e-mail. It's...hilarious. Like the professor has no idea of the most basic self-refutation move in the philosophical book. She's so darned _earnest_ about walking into the punch. It would be funny if it didn't mean that Clueless Ones like that were going to be the only people allowed to enter the profession of counseling. Like making all medical doctors affirm phrenology as a condition of licensing.

And it also isn't funny for Keeton and Ward. I didn't mean my last comment to be cavalier toward them. It's never funny when totalitarian-minded fools are in positions of power and can scrap people's careers if they will not bow to the thought police and affirm arrant nonsense--such as, that all "values" are equal.

As I'm thinking about it, Bobcat, I suspect there _could_ be a legal problem if they said that it is unethical to believe certain things, which may be why they generally avoid it. The judge in the EMU opinion kept insisting that Ward is not being penalized for her beliefs but rather for refusing to follow the school's educational requirements (i.e., that she engage in "gay affirming counseling," a phrase the judge himself uses to describe what she refused to do).

The judge in the EMU opinion kept insisting that Ward is not being penalized for her beliefs but rather for refusing to follow the school's educational requirements


Which, apparently, are supposed to inform...her beliefs? Oh, please, this isn't education. Education is about a committed search for the truth, wherever it leads. This is just indoctrination dressed up as education. Ironically, the American Counseling Association seems to never have heard of the psychological concept of coercive persuasion. Do they think that teaching their students not to impose their beliefs on others by imposing THEIR beliefs on their students is not ironic?

Oy!

We, apparently, need, as a society, a group of people sanctioned by the State to treat sick minds, regardless of whether or not their theories are correct and whether or not they really know what they are doing. It makes society feel better that they are doing something. It is true that there are genuine emotional difficulties that can benefit from a type of medical intervention, but true counseling (as opposed to what often passed for counseling), by and large, is a form of approaching another with the wisdom of Understanding. As a practical matter, this sort of wisdom is very far away from the sort of feel-good therapies which are used in some forms of modern psychology, because wisdom, in a proper sense, be it practical wisdom or moral wisdom, is first and foremost based on an encounter with Truth by the person who is wise. That truth is then communicated to the other.

I know of nothing in psychological training that will make the students encounter the Truth. Any person trained in both logic and a fair assessment of objective data will do just as well. What some psychological training (and apparently this is the case, here) wants to do is provide a conventional mode of thought as if it were the truth and if everyone tows the party line, others can be convinced as well that it all makes sense, whether or not their conventional mode of thought really is the Truth or not.

I have read a fair amount in the area of psychological theorizing and I have extensive working relationships with many psychological researchers, so I have a very good idea of the state of the art in a few areas. That judge needs to have a real talking to if he thinks that the education these young ladies are receiving is anything close to what a physicist might receive. Psychology is so far away from even the Newtonian revolution that it hasn't even discovered algebra, not to say calculus. It hasn't even found the apple grove, much less gravity.

I have, occasionally, been asked to be a spiritual director and I always turn the person down (partially, because I don't want to be responsible to God for them). The best comment I have ever read about psychology is something like this, "Perhaps, in a thousand years, after all of the research has been done, all of the findings correlated, and the conclusions of the learned men are finally published, the last article on psychology will begin:

It is the opinion of this body that the truth of our research, the best state of the human mind, can be summarized in a few statement. Our findings are thus:

1) Blessed are the Poor in Spirit...
2) Blessed are the Meek..."

I don't really know what better counseling one can give.

The Chicken

This is just indoctrination dressed up as education.

Absolutely. The transparent pretense is that, rather than trying to influence students' beliefs, they are merely trying to teach them to be neutral technicians! What a joke. Dr. Schenck kind of gives the show away in her e-mail to Jennifer Keeton, though. She expressly says that the issue is that Jennifer believes that her beliefs and values should apply to other people. It's at the metalevel, but it's still clearly telling her that she must change her beliefs (that is, her beliefs about beliefs).

And of course the whole distinction between behavior and beliefs is ludicrous when the "behavior" in question is that of affirming a belief! If Miss Ward can be constitutionally compelled by a state school to engage in "gay affirming" counseling, not just play-acting but real counseling with real clients, as an educational activity, it is hard to see why a state school could not constitutionally compel a Muslim student to go to a Christian church and pray to Jesus Christ as God. It's just behavior, right? Nothing to do with his beliefs. He can still believe otherwise in the privacy of his own mind. And it could be educational for him. Teach him about other cultures and stuff. (I'm planning to add more to the post on this very topic of compelling speech in school.)

Just out of curiosity, because I am probably hopelessly naive, would it be possible for a counselor (or perhaps a psychologist) to counsel a gay person by insisting ever and again "OK, we have made some real progress. Now, lets dig just a little deeper and see if we can see WHY your surface beliefs and your behavior patterns are causing your system distress - to see if we can locate the disjunction between what you say and what your subconscious is trying to get out." And keep on going until they discover that the person harbors doubts, or discomfort, or hatred, or ANYTHING that points in the direction of an emotion about the behavior of homosexual acts. In other words, use the tools of the art to help the patient find the real truth that lies hidden, even if the "state" of the art doesn't care much about that truth.

I don't know anything about counseling, but I have had sensitivity training thrown at me several times, and it has always seemed to me that it was possible to use the trainers own premises and standards to twist them into knots, if you think it through.

Lydia, how about forcing the counselors to sit through a really good semester with Dr. Ken Howell learning WHAT the Church teaches, so that they will ever so much more effective in giving affirmation to Catholic beliefs to their Catholic patients? We aren't forcing them to believe Catholicism, no, we are just enabling them to perform their technician duties more completely.

I would guess from what I've seen of other "practicum" requirements that the student would be watched by the trainers through a one-way glass or some other form of observation and that any such attempt would be detected and ruled illicit.

In any event, Miss Keeton never even got that far. She was ordered into "remediation" before she ever reached her counseling practicum, because the professors recognized that she was not a true believer in ethical relativism. And even when she agreed to go through the motions of the highly objectionable indoctrination involved in the remediation plan, they kept pushing her to realize that she would be wasting her time and theirs if she were not successfully indoctrinated into ethical relativism in the course of it!

Lydia, how about forcing the counselors to sit through a really good semester with Dr. Ken Howell learning WHAT the Church teaches, so that they will ever so much more effective in giving affirmation to Catholic beliefs to their Catholic patients?

If one can affirm A and not-A then their therapy becomes illogical made-up twaddle. Clearly, if they can affirm a Catholic in his belief (A) and a homosexual in his belief (not-A), then they can affirm my(supposed) belief that the professor is a piece of cheese. I guess, then, the real question before the court is: should Ward and Keeton be educated by a piece of cheese?

The Chicken

Okay, that was a low blow. My apologies to the professor and everyone reading.

The Chicken

Chicken, that's nothing: Isn't it Aristotle who says that a man who denies the law of non-contradiction has no better understanding than a vegetable? I object strenuously to calling people "vegetables" in the usual context in which that is done, but affirming that a person is in a self-inflicted "permanent vegetative state" because he is insistently anti-logical might, just perhaps, be a different matter...

Even though I disagree with the whole affair, mocking the professor was rude and opposed to charity. I will withdraw from the discussion, since my outrage can and has led me to sin.

The Chicken

but affirming that a person is in a self-inflicted "permanent vegetative state" because he is insistently anti-logical might, just perhaps, be a different matter...

It better be, since I've done it more than once. See the case of George Felos.

Since the truth will set us free, MC, it is only charitable to tell a man what he needs to know.

MC, don't get your shorts in a knot over a rhetorical fluff-ball that was clearly intended as a rhetorical fluff-ball. The fact that I, personally, am a piece of cheese (Muenster) and that I got royally offended should not affect you at all.

Let X be the claim that homosexual acts are not morally unacceptable. Let Y be the claim of moral relativism, roughly, that all moral opinions are equally acceptable. Why does the OP seem to assume that X entails Y? Just because you deny homosexual acts are wrong doesn't make you a moral relativist. Now Dr. Schenck's comments seem to show that he holds both X and Y, and maybe even that he holds X because of Y. But all that follows from this is that he's an idiot, not that anyone who holds X is committed to holding Y.

At first glance, the policy doesn't seem to me an instance of moral relativism - the claim isn't that X is right for some people but wrong for others, but that whether X is right or wrong, therapist S must respect patient P's opinion about X, where respect would be given kind of broad condition (think about Rawls' social bases of self-respect). In cases of domestic abuse, the autonomy of others would be infringed, so that isn't a good analogy to homosexuality.

As someone who receives psychiatric treatment, I can say this cuts both ways. I am positive that my therapist and psychiatrist have unfavorable views of religion, but they cannot press the point, as they must respect my opinion about it (indeed, my conversion to Catholicism caused quite severe psychological disturbances, to the point that I would have panic attacks at every mass and started hallucinating when confirmed, so I can understand my therapist's concerns).

That being said, the treatment of Julea Ward seems quite unfair. If a Christian were to issue a complaint against a psychiatrist for disrespecting her beliefs, I strongly suspect it would only be met with a slap on the wrist.

Why does the OP seem to assume that X entails Y?

Maybe it doesn't. In both cases, those in authority over these women definitely affirm the acceptability of homosexual behavior. Nothing relativistic about that. They imagine that the women who hold the opposite view will proselytize their 'clients.' To prevent this, the "trainers" must exercise tyranny over the women's consciences. It's all right, they say, to hold either point of view, but only one may be spoken of. Therefore, it seems they definitely prefer one set of values over another. It may not be relativistic, but it is certainly an immoral imposition of pure power.

K, I do not assume that X entails Y. Nor did I in the main post. I think the post is quite clear about this. I read the case documents, which include quotations from textbooks, from the "ethics" code, from many reported conversations between Keeton and Ward and their various professors. From this I _conclude_ that the rationale being given for forbidding the students to refrain from endorsing homosexuality in counseling is Y. The Schenck e-mail is particularly explicit, but it is of a piece with the training being given in general.

John H., one textbook (which I had thought of quoting in the post but then deleted because the sentence was awkward) tells aspiring counselors that it is their job simply to help clients "clarify" their own "values" and apply these to solving their own problems. There is no qualification for systems of values that involve justifying harm to others. I'm sorry, but the moral relativism being taught in what is actually being pressed on these students really is open to such easy refutations as those I give. The idea is not that some things are really, objectively immoral but that homosexuality just doesn't happen to be one of them, but rather that there are only "personal values" rather than objective moral truths.

Moreover, you did not address my example of the drug addict who merely wants to continue in his behavior. If counseling is supposed to help the person counseled, then the truth must matter, particularly the truth about whether or not some lifestyle is self-destructive. Even a relativism circumscribed in principle only to those actions which are (supposed to be) victimless cannot guide counseling, as the counselor is supposed to be actually helping the client. If the client has an eating disorder, an addiction, engages in self-mutilation, etc., etc., it is not helping him merely to clarify and affirm his values where these values include the perfect licitness of his self-destructive behaviors. Whether or not homosexual acts are such a self-destructive behavior is the very question about which, presumably, Keeton and Ward have different opinions from those of their professors. Moreover, again, as I have said, the training they are receiving does not even acknowledge that _genuinely_ self-destructive behaviors may be disapproved of in counseling by the counselor. Rather, it teaches that the counselor must not impose his values on the client, period.

I understand that you are glad that your counselors didn't try to pressure you not to convert to Catholicism on the grounds that it was self-destructive. But again, the truth matters. If Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular are true, then converting to Catholicism was not objectively self-destructive despite the unfortunate symptoms it caused. I do not believe that a responsible counselor can evade questions of truth, even if the result of your counselor's doing so would have been that you would have had to find a Catholic counselor instead.

Bill, I completely agree that, as Bobcat said, nobody can _really_ be a consistent relativist. And of course these teachers aren't. That's what's so ludicrous about the Schenck e-mail. But they _think_ they are, and they _think_ that all this nonsense about merely clarifying values and how you just have your personal values, etc., is the justification for their policy towards the women about homosexuality. They believe that moral relativism is what makes their approach to counseling "professional." It's philosophically ridiculous, but it is the way that they justify their exercise of tyranny over the students.

K, I do not assume that X entails Y.

The reasonable position for the ACA to hold is to accept X, but deny Y. In fact, I take it that in practice they do exactly this. For instance, they practice as if rape and abuse are wrong. And they should.

Now, I don't blame the OP for going by what the ACA and its members say, but it seems pretty clear that, in practice, they're not actually moral relativists. So, if you're going to be charitable, why say that they are? The only reason I could think of was that the OP was assuming that X entails Y. I'll take her word that she wasn't assuming this, but the point remains, these people are not actually moral relativists.

K., since moral relativism is an incoherent position, it's impossible to be a consistent moral relativist. I not only acknowledge this in the main post, I use it as a source of humor. Clearly, the professors believe that it is _wrong_ for Miss Keeton to believe that there are absolute moral truths. Dr. Schenck says as much (she says it is "unethical"). This just illustrates the self-refuting nature of moral relativism, especially when one tries to coerce others to espouse it. "Charity" has nothing to do with the matter. Are we never to say that someone is espousing relativism and imposing relativism as a required position for others simply _because_ to do so is to hold a self-refuting position? Is that required by "charity"? Nonsense. That would mean that charity requires us to act as if moral relativism is invisible, as if no one espouses it, teaches it, pushes it, or (in the present case) makes it a requirement for a profession.

The thing is, y'all, the conversations and documents of the cases speak for themselves. The idea that I've been misrepresenting things here is refuted by the materials of the cases themselves.

Moreover, it is hardly news that moral relativism is a common position these days! (Try asking a public high schooler about these matters and inferring from that what his teachers are feeding him. Even some Christian young people have succumbed.) How surprising can it be that a field like counseling has incorporated as a "standard" the requirement that counselors at least act convincingly like moral relativists and a determination to cut out of the profession those who definitely are not relativists and cannot be depended upon to talk and act like relativists? The language of "that's just your personal values" and such is hardly some unknown tongue in the United States of America!

Lydia, we generally characterize our student population here at the Christian college as "good little relativists." Even the ones from solid Christian homes, even many who have been home educated, have been so fully *culturally* indoctrinated in the "who am I to say" philosophy that they have a hard time with our insistence that some things can be *known* to be right/wrong, good/evil, beautiful/ugly, etc. They might be okay with "homosexuality is wrong" and "abortion is wrong" -- though that is not a given -- but try saying that divorce is wrong, or lying to your professor about your late homework is wrong, or that some literature is just really not worth reading, or some movies ought not to be put before our eyes/into our minds . . . and you see at once that they do not have clear moral standards but believe that it is up to the individual to decide such things. (Or they are such absolutists that they can't see past a single swear word in a 30-page story, but that's a different problem and less rife.) Even when they say that something is wrong, they almost always preface it with "in my opinion," unable to bring themselves to simply assert it. This is a good thing in some areas where there is freedom, of course, but they don't make a distinction. "Well, *I* don't think women ought to serve in combat, but that's just me; if a woman wants to do that she should be able to decide for herself." They do not want to assert that there really are values to be upheld for everyone, not just for those who want to hold them.

And, by the way, they all know what relativism is and can point out its essential contradiction . . . but they do not see that this is what they themselves embrace.

Actually, I think Alasdair MacIntyre put it best in a review of Allan Bloom's The Closing of the American Mind (paraphrasing here): "I don't know what kind of students Mr. Bloom gets at the Committee for Social Thought, but my students aren't moral relativist as much as they're just incoherent."

Say that if you like, K., but if anything can be called "moral relativism," the kool-aid that Miss Keeton and Miss Ward are being pressured to drink has that label on it. _Of course_ it's incoherent, but it is a known position, nonetheless. One can say, "There are no atheists in foxholes," but it doesn't follow that one should never call anyone an atheist!

Thanks, Beth, for that confirmation. I have heard of a young man who was working with a church youth group and asked the students to categorize certain statements as being objective facts or not. He found to his horror that they categorized all statements about morality as not being objective facts. Worse still, when he told the pastors of the church this, to inform them that they needed to do some teaching, the pastors couldn't see what the problem was.

Without general public acknowledgement of some teaching body as divinely authorized, everything having to do with morality as well as religion is eventually going to seem like a matter of personal opinion, regardless of which opinions happen to be unquestioned at any given time. That was the situation in the Roman Empire prior to its Christianization, and that's the situation in the modern West today.

Of course, that's only my opinion. :)


Another problem is the apparent contradiction between what psychology should be - a science of the mind, and what this attempt at education is: indoctrination. Could the students simply ask the professor to show them a proof for his assertion that not challenging the patient is always the best strategy? Oh, wait, they can't provide any. There is a famous book written in the 1970's called, The Psychological Society, which shows that, in general, people get "better" in counseling if the counselor and the patient share or can be made to share a common outlook on the world. Obviously, that common outlook can be fabricated from within the system by "affirming" whatever the worldview is of the patient or it can be mutally arrived at from outside of the system by a common search for truth between the counselor and the patient. In any case, I would love to see the evidence, scientific evidence, that affirming someone else's worldview does anything but make the person feel better in the short term.

The judge should learn the difference between science and magic shows. I am sorry, but IF this were a genuine educational process, then the judge MIGHT be able to restrict speach, but there is no good science that most scientists will accept that shows that these counseling techniques are good science and if they are not good science, in what sense can the student be said to be involved in an educational process?

It is not the lawyers who should be arguing, nor the educators, but the scientists. In fact, if just one patient is helped by NOT affirming their beliefs, then the professors are morally bound to either explain why or include such a possibility in the course. The professors do not seem, from the data I have available, to be very good at teaching, since teachers must be honest in showing the limitations of what they are teaching. Have they every tried not affirming a patient? Have they ever read Richard Feynman's Cargo Cult Science lecture? This is not science.

The Chicken

You have an interesting question there, MC, regarding the practical success of "value neutral" counseling. It would be interesting to compare the outcomes to the results of, say, pastoral counseling that unabashedly brings in a set of ideas about right and wrong (which the counselor really holds) and applies those to the situation. But of course it might be hard to get data, since understandably people who have sought pastoral counseling aren't going to want to be part of a study. In any event, one problem might be in defining "being helped" or "getting better." When the science in question concerns notions like health, it is becoming increasingly obvious that our culture is putting out its eyes, as it were, so as to be unable even to discern such basic states as healthy or unhealthy.

Michael, in all seriousness, I believe that the Catholic Church recognizes that things such as the wrongness of homosexual acts are discernible by the natural light, by the access to the natural law which even non-Catholics have available to them. Hence, someone can know this in some sense that is not just an opinion without having to gain that knowledge by way of the teaching authority of the Church. My impression is that that is how the Church itself looks at the matter. It seems to me that you might do well to consider the notion that your Protestant "separated brethren," such as Ward and Keeton for example, might actually have access to truth in this area in a sense that is not mere opinion and hence that it is not true as you seem to be implying that all Protestants have to be relativists.

Indeed, K., my students are incoherent. That is because they know that some things *ought* to be true, even *must* be true, but they have been indoctrinated to believe that saying so is offensive and even wrong. In other words, they have been taught that if one believes something to be true, one must claim its truth only for oneself, not as a universal applicable to everyone. They have been taught relativism, that is, and they try to apply it despite its obvious incoherencies.

Lydia:

The Catholic Church presents all sorts of truths, philosophical and moral, as accessible to natural reason alone. As a Catholic, I agree with that. But the opinion I offered in my previous comment was historical and sociological, not theological or philosophical. Even Thomas Aquinas recognized that, given human ignorance, frailty, and sin, many truths accessible to reason in principle are, in practice, accessible to many people only by faith. I think the history of modernity bears that out.


Best,
Mike

Well, since quite a number of Christians, including many non-Catholics, including the non-Catholics in this story, _do_ seem to have got hold of some ethical truths here, partly by the natural light and partly by access to Scripture and the scriptural teaching they have received in their own Christian groups, I'm not at all sure that the lesson of modernity is being borne out in their case. So this is a situation where we can all pull together, knowing that the beliefs held by our fellow Christians are not mere opinions.

Lydia,

The beliefs you cite as shared, which are indeed shared by some people who call themselves Christians, are by no means shared by all who call themselves Christians. I have nothing against using both philosophical and theological arguments persuade the latter. I do it myself. But given that such arguments run against the cultural grain of modernity, they are not going to convince everybody in that category. Far from it. And as Beth's experience shows, even people who are convinced in their hearts have a hard time thinking of such convictions as more than personal opinions. Hence my original point.


Best,
Mike

"Indeed, K., my students are incoherent. That is because they know that some things *ought* to be true, even *must* be true, but they have been indoctrinated to believe that saying so is offensive and even wrong. In other words, they have been taught that if one believes something to be true, one must claim its truth only for oneself, not as a universal applicable to everyone. They have been taught relativism, that is, and they try to apply it despite its obvious incoherencies."

That's exactly right, Beth. Well put.

Lydia -

I think the real crux of the issue is whether therapy - or, for that matter, medicine as a whole - should aim to prevent objective harms. It seems to me this isn't the case, or at least it shouldn't be the case: they (should) exist only to fulfill the goals of their clients. If a Jehovah's Witness refuses blood transfusion, it's an objective harm, but so be it. Similarly with a homosexual. If medical services were to focus on preventing objective harms, I fear it would be a destabilizing influence on a pluralistic society (that being said, it would also be destabilizing if medical professionals weren't allowed to refuse clients).

That doesn't mean I agree with the ethical position of the ACA; I don't. I think therapists should be permitted to decline clients, at least in cases where the therapist has conscientious objections to the client's goals. As for the drug addict, I don't find anything immoral with helping him evade the officer - not anymore than I find anything wrong with helping a medieval heretic evade his inquisitor. Whether or not the addict or heretic is blameworthy is beside the point.

I suppose that makes me a liberal of a certain stripe, but I'm more concerned with maintaining social order than rights in the abstract. Liberalism seems to me best understood as a response to the Catholic/Protestant wars; the lesson should not be easily forgotten.

The social order will fall apart if a counselor tells a client that homosexuality is bad for him? This kind of therapy probably shouldn't be confused with the practice of medicine. It's unlikely the guy came in looking for a cholesterol control pill.

"They realized that Miss Keeton actually believed that some moral statements are objectively true, not having really internalized a thoroughgoing moral relativism."

Lately I've become worried that complaints about relativism aren't specific enough. Functional relativism often hides absolutes. In this case I see at least three such absolutes driving the professors' behavior:

1. The absolutism of counseling techniques and "professional" scientism combine with 2. puritanical opposition to discrimination, in service of 3. sexual liberationism

Perhaps relativism really is so predominant in its thought-stopping stupidity that analysis and refutation have to begin there. It's the only "argument" the EMU faculty give.

But when does a focus on relativism blind us to larger concerns?

Relativism is an easy form of sophistry useful to defend a system based on the denial of reality.

Sexual liberation, for instance, really has destroyed lots of lives. Male homosexual habits especially really do risk lives and make people miserable.

But sexual liberation is a campus orthodoxy. If academia were to renounce this belief, it would have to recognize its permissive attitude towards its young charges as systematic negligence *at best*. It would have to renounce a position which it has helped entrench in society for decades.

How can any organization acknowledge such wrongdoing without discrediting itself? Our society is digging its hole deeper and deeper because it can't repent of its first sins.

"Our natures do pursue,
Like rats that ravin down their proper bane,
A thirsty evil; and when we drink we die."

The views of people like Julea Ward are a threat to the regime of sexual liberation. This is one reason they face such persistent obstacles.

In face of such forces, will our repetitive refutations of "relativism" have much purchase? Is relativism the root cause? Are we missing a more productive approach?

John H, even if it were the case that medicine ought to limit itself to the things that the patient asks for and desires, it is not a decided conclusion that (a) therapy ought to be considered part of medicine, , nor (b) that therapists would still be precluded from looking at homosexuality of the individual as a problem that needs dealing with.

(a) surely I a not the only person who doubts that the training to become a therapist is the training that makes one a medical professional? A therapist simply doesn't get enough training in the needs and issues of the body to know medicine , and therefore cannot determine whether the patients needs are partly due to bodily imbalances or physical diseases. That's why a psychiatrist is first a medical doctor and then a psychiatric specialist. And besides, what a therapist deals with, far more often than not, is behavior that is subject to the will and intentions and choices of the individual, not some disease. If the client held a bona-fide (mental?, physical?) disease, then almost perforce the therapist would be obliged to send the client to a doctor.

(b) Aside from that: if a client comes in with a problem that needs therapy, and the client is gay, there is at least a 95% chance that the client's problem has some bearing on the homosexuality. Even if the therapist should not attempt to train the client or lead a client away from homosexuality against the client's stated intention, the therapist would still fail to be a professional without warning and advising the client that the therapy would probably be much more thorough and much more effective if they would deal with the homosexuality along with the other issues. Withholding the truth about his situation from the client, even if it is a truth that the client prefers not to hear, CANNOT be a professional stance.

Also, John H, it should never be part of a doctor's professional position that he expected to assist a law-breaker in continuing to break the law, or that he assist the criminal to evade the law. If a doctor has the obligation to report odd-looking bruises found repeatedly on a child to the state (to protect the child from further danger), why should it be appropriate to refuse to report odd looking puncture wounds on a drug addict's arms to the state? The state has already determined that being a drug addict is a danger to those around you, that's why there are laws against it. A person (doctor or not) who is willing to help the law-breaker continue to evade the law is someone opposed to maintaining social order , contrary to your stated thought.

I am willing to see the beginning of an exception for a psychiatrist whose knowledge of law-breaking comes only from the mouth of the patient, but there needs to be limits to it even there.

It certainly isn't true that the medical profession should exist only to further the client's goals. Remember that a statement that sweeping would on its face confer _positive_ duties on the medical professional as well as the negative duty not to give the JW a blood transfusion. So it would prima facie confer a positive duty on a doctor to assist a client in committing suicide, to get drinks for an alcoholic behind his wife's back, to cut the healthy limb off a client who wanted the limb off, and so on and so forth. It's obvious that doctors must not be mere technicians, robots, who exist to do whatever their clients ask them to do even against the health and well-being of the patient himself.

More later. I'm off to church.

"The views of people like Julea Ward are a threat to the regime of sexual liberation. This is one reason they face such persistent obstacles."

As Anthony Esolen put it in Touchstone recently, these people "are busy curtailing and denying every freedom but that of the zipper."

Kevin Jones:

I understand relativism to teach this: Any values one holds are purely personal and must never be *considered* as appropriate for all people, much less *imposed* on anyone else, even through persuasion.

The reason that I understand people to hold so absolutely to this fiction is that they fear losing their autonomy in some kind of choice (often sexual but it's human nature to wish not to be controlled in any fashion; very small children assert their desire for autonomy). Add to that the cultural values of our society today such as not giving offense and not judging others, and you have the confusion that I see in my church-taught students (especially if they are from a church community that equates niceness with love).

Given these understandings, it seems to me that "going after" relativism -- by showing its inherent contradiction, by showing why we must (and actually do, despite our philosophy) live by *some* absolute values, by showing why those values must come from outside ourselves -- is a viable strategy for discussions of this nature.

Yes, relativism is a false philosophy, but its tenets must be exposed and people must *see that they hold these tenets* before we can make much progress. Of course individually the particular heart issues need to be addressed at some point (desire for autonomy in/control over X). But often these must be approached by first debunking the idea that " 'who is to say' that X is wrong" is a viable way of thinking.

I'm not sure if I'm making my point clearly, but I guess it comes down to the fact that relativism is a way of thinking about/seeing the world -- a worldview. Its falseness must be exposed in order to begin making the case for a true worldview to be put in its place. It's easier for me because most of my students already have a reasonable grasp of the Scriptures and they all take a worldview course freshman year, so I can put a relativistic comment up against an absolute Scriptural value to show the divergence. In a different setting, I'd have to start just with exposing the self-contradictions of relativism and then begin building a case for absolute values of any sort.

It's important to remember that I stated that doctors/therapists ought to have the right to refuse to treat clients, at minimum in instances where there is a conscientious objection. Thus I don't think there is any duty for a therapist to help him evade his rehab officer, or for a doctor to assist a suicide, etc. In fact, the doctor or therapist might have a duty *not* to do such things - it just isn't clear to me that this duty should be enforced by law.

It's important to remember that I stated that doctors/therapists ought to have the right to refuse to treat clients, at minimum in instances where there is a conscientious objection.

So if a Muslim student enrolled at a state college said, "I can't help treat infidels, they are devoted to false pagan beliefs," you would be willing to say that is his protected right? The problem is Julea Ward actually wants to do pastoral counseling, and for some reason she thought she could get secular approval for pastoral counseling.

Rubbish, Step2. They want her not even to express her own opinions at all, and they are further demanding that she _affirm_ homosexual behavior. It should be perfectly possible to do counseling that doesn't even make reference to religious premises while at the same time, as a therapist, letting your client know what your views are and not literally pretending to hold views that you do not hold. She tried to do the referral only because she suspected this would not be permitted.

Kevin Jones, I'm at a bit of a loss to know why you make that point here. Surely you have understood by now that I did not bring up relativism out of a clear blue sky. I brought it up because it is, in fact, what is being _very heavily pushed_ under the header of the ACA guidelines, hence, for all people training to be counselors.

Yes, yes, yes, as I keep saying to people, of course it's true that the people here are in fact being incoherent and talking as if it's _wrong_ to disapprove of homosexuality. Yes, they clearly also do not believe homosexual acts are harmful. In fact, they characterize this whole view as a "myth" and act as though they are dispelling "myths" for the therapists. This is all true. But their _rationale_ for requiring the therapists to _affirm_ homosexuality as normal is, overwhelmingly, an explicitly relativistic view of the profession and of professional requirements. That's what they are requiring the therapists to believe. That they are requiring it as belief is particularly evident in Keeton's case, as she didn't even make it to the point of doing a counseling practicum. They figured out early on that she wasn't a relativist and are hectoring her about it. She _must_ submit to the doctrine that her "personal values" are merely her own, that they don't apply to other people, etc. That's what she has encountered; that's what they are requiring.

This isn't just some sort of pointless "mainstream conservative" fixation with relativism, ho-hum, as you seem to imply, not getting to the "root" problem, etc. This is what in fact these professors are pushing, and it's what makes them so proud of themselves as so professional, so neutral, etc. Don't take my word for it. Read the documentation.

I don't know why several people on this thread write as though I'm bringing up relativism out of the blue, as though I looked at this case where homosexual orthodoxy is being pushed on these counselors in a totalitarian manner (as of course it is) and said, "Ah! I bet this is because of that Bogeyman, ethical relativism," and wrote the post from there. That's not how it went down.

It should be perfectly possible to do counseling that doesn't even make reference to religious premises while at the same time, as a therapist, letting your client know what your views are and not literally pretending to hold views that you do not hold.

Did Julea Ward offer any reasons in her lawsuit that were not based on religious premises? Honestly, your understanding of what counseling is supposed to be fits perfectly with my example of the Muslim student. You are structuring counseling to be centered around the therapist instead of the patient.

So if a Muslim student enrolled at a state college said, "I can't help treat infidels, they are devoted to false pagan beliefs," you would be willing to say that is his protected right?

Yes, although I don't think any sort of subsidization of his education or practice would be in the interest of society.

Well, that's a nice little generalization, Step2. Listen, her professors were perfectly clear. She had to affirm homosexual behavior as normal, she had to positively engage in _gay affirming counseling_ in order to pass the program. Are you okay with that? Do you agree with that? Is that what every secular school is, in your view, supposed to be requiring its counselors to do in order to be a secular counseling program at all? Everybody has to be required to affirm that they believe that homosexual behavior is normal, in the counseling context, whether that's what they actually think or not? Otherwise it's "pastoral counseling"? I wonder what you or anyone else in this situation would do with an agnostic who believed that homosexual behavior is immoral. Used to be plenty of those around in the world and might still be a few. If you think that Julea Ward's professors would be okay with that counselor's not engaging in "gay affirming counseling" (that's the judge's phrase, not mine), you're dreaming.

In sum, plaintiff unequivocally demonstrated her unwillingness to make any effort at working within the clients’ value systems when they are not in accordance with hers. By insisting on undifferentiated referral of an entire class of clients, plaintiff violates the ACA Code of Ethics that has been incorporated “for purely pedagogical purposes”. Kissinger, 5 F.3d at 179. Therefore, plaintiff violated EMU’s curriculum requirement that was not intended to prohibit any particular religious practice or belief. It is true that EMU’s curriculum does require plaintiff to make an effort to counsel homosexual clients, but, contrary to plaintiff’s assertion, this requirement is not a requirement to endorse or advocate homosexuality, hence infringing her free exercise rights. Plaintiff was not required to change her views or religious beliefs; she was required to set them aside in the counselor-client relationship – a neutral, generally applicable expectation of all counselors-to-be under the ACA standard.

Yep, that's why the same judge called it "gay affirming counseling." Kind of gave away the game, there, as far as what is meant by "setting them aside in the counselor-client relationship," didn't he?

And, tell me, Step2, what do you think is means by "setting them aside"? Pretending that you think otherwise? Is remaining silent okay? (Looks like Keeton's professors didn't think so.) But how would that work? How do you work with a client who wants to continue his homosexual relationship, helping him to do so, without giving him the strong impression that you are affirming his relationship?

How do you work with a client who wants to continue his homosexual relationship, helping him to do so, without giving him the strong impression that you are affirming his relationship?

You could talk about relationship problems and solutions in general terms, perhaps indicating that intimate relations are not your focus while also not saying anything negative. Counselors are going to encounter all sorts of client situations that differ from what they are familiar and comfortable with, this does not entitle them to categorically dismiss those patients. Therapists are supposed to be experts at communication, but you've got them setting up these absolute barriers before they even attempt a dialogue. It may turn out to be impossible to establish a productive dialogue for various reasons, but to refuse to make the attempt shows a lack of commitment to professional standards.

you've got them setting up these absolute barriers before they even attempt a dialogue.

That's not true. The only absolute barrier is the one that you and these ladies' handlers have set up against telling the truth.

Step2, you say,

Counselors are going to encounter all sorts of client situations that differ from what they are familiar and comfortable with,

Let's try putting it a different way, because that's a ridiculously invidious way of putting it as far as what these young women actually believe. Step2, pick some behavior that you consider not only to be immoral but also to be seriously harmful to the client himself. (Surely there must be something.) If people tell you that you have to "set aside" those beliefs and assist the client in continuing that behavior, advising him in how to continue, enabling the behavior, and giving no indication whatsoever that you think the behavior harmful to him, is it not the sheerest sophistry to say that you are not being asked to "endorse" the behavior and to violate your beliefs--your beliefs, specifically, concerning the good of the client and the good of the behavior?

John H., it seems to me that you have contradicted yourself. In one comment, you said (regarding counselors, inter alia, and doctors as well),

they (should) exist only to fulfill the goals of their clients.

But later, when I raised various examples including assisting suicide, you said:

In fact, the doctor or therapist might have a duty *not* to do such things

But if the doctor or therapist "should exist only to fulfill the goals of their clients," how could they possibly "have a duty not to do" things that fulfill the goals of their clients? I think you need to retract the first statement.

True liberalism, as offered by people like Rawls, affirms that the state ought not to coerce citizens contrary to their reasonable comprehensive doctrines on matters of constitutional essentials. Christian moral theology is part of a reasonable comprehensive doctrine; religious freedom is a constitutional essential. Thus, according to liberalism, coercing a student to affirm something that they are not unreasonable in rejecting is unjust.

It's really as simple as that, if you're a liberal. Given that, I'm just not sure why the counseling educators can't be more tolerant to our deep metaphysical differences that touch on questions of philosophical anthropology.

Lydia:

Here's an example. Suppose a therapist is called by a potential client who makes pornographic movies and wants to overcome the guilt he is feeling about his profession. His guilt, let's say, was precipitated by his 17-year-old daughter's dream to become a pornographic actress. Imagine that the client tells the therapist: "what I do is protected by the First Amendment and is perfectly legal. I have always enjoyed what I do and consider it a noble profession that provides an important product to our citizenry. I am feeling uneasy about my daughter wanting to be a porn actress. However, I also believe that we should be tolerant and respectful of people's career choices, and not force our morality on them. I don't want to be a hypocrite. So, I need you to help me to affirm her choices and to overcome my guilt feelings, which I know are a just a left-over of our repressive Puritan past."

The therapist, a feminist, refers the client to another therapist on the grounds that she considers the client's profession to be deeply immoral and oppressive of women, and she cannot allow herself to be used by the client to push another woman into this cesspool. I think the therapist has every right to do this, and I think we should respect that judgment. Why can't we do the same to the Christian therapist who believes just as strongly that homosexual conduct is immoral and detrimental to the client's good?

Given that, I'm just not sure why the counseling educators can't be more tolerant to our deep metaphysical differences that touch on questions of philosophical anthropology.

Ooh, ooh, pick me! Pick me!

Because all that liberal talk about being tolerant of differences was just a sham all along?

I have an even better spin on your example, Frank: The client's daughter's 18th birthday is coming up next week. He wants the therapist to help him not to feel guilty about making such a movie _using the daughter as an actress_ after she turns 18. That will _really_ help him to get over his guilt feelings and affirm her in her choice of a profession.

I was going to leave a thoughtful response, but seeing how Frank derailed this, I'll just start asking Dr. George Rekers and Ted Haggard for their Christian advice.

Step2 writes: "I was going to leave a thoughtful response, but seeing how Frank derailed this, I'll just start asking Dr. George Rekers and Ted Haggard for their Christian advice."

I have no idea what this means. Do I need go through Steps 3 through 12 to understand it?

"Because all that liberal talk about being tolerant of differences was just a sham all along?"

Bingo.

Political liberalism was invented in the mid-1980s in order to provide a theoretical foundation that can exclude religiously-informed policy proposals while seeming to defend religious liberty and citizen participation. There had, of course, always been many liberalisms, including the Lockean, Kantian, Millean, Hobbsean, and Roussean varieties. But each suffered from the same problem: each presupposed a particular philosophical anthropology as the correct account of humanity. This was a problem because popular liberalism suggested neutrality on matters of worldview. So, you could not very well say that the state should be neutral on such matters while requiring it to embrace a particular one. Social conservatives understood this since the mid-1950s, as seen in what Bill Buckley called "the great liberal dilemma." But with the ascendancy of the religious right and its insistence that "liberalism" is not as neutral as its proponents claim--that it too tries to answer the same questions that traditional religions answer--folks like Rawls needed a new way to defend liberalism in a pluralistic society that was both morally required but did not depend on a particular metaphysics. Presto, we get "political liberalism," and with its numerous defenders including Rawls, Gaus (who is more of a libertarian), Nagel, and to a certain extent Dworkin.

So, instead of explicitly defending metaphysical liberalism, we get political liberalism with allegedly none of the metaphysical commitments. But, strangely, on every issue about which metaphysical liberalism would take a stand--e.g., abortion, affirmative action, same-sex marriage, etc.--political liberalism gets the exact same results. Wow, what a coincidence! But the benefit of political liberalism is you can rule your opponents' views as a priori violations of political liberalism while saying that their views are still "rational." This means you get to sound like you respect pluralism, diversity, and the rationality of your opponents' point of view while shutting them out of the debate on "principled grounds."

This is why on the issue of homosexual conduct, those that are critical of it for moral reasons cannot be considered reasonable actors who simply disagree with others on the issue. They must be irrational. For if they are rational--that is, if there views are not unreasonable to hold--then the state cannot, according to the canons of liberalism, force these citizens to acquiesce in their public and private lives. But this means that same-sex unions would not be treated equally, since political liberalism would grant the legitimacy of those who think homosexual acts are immoral. Consequently, the bigot charge is so fierce and not well-argued. It is meant to intimidate and silence, not persuade or convince. For, again, to suggest the position is arguable is to grant it legitimacy, and that simply cannot be allowed.

So, despite Rawls' wonderful intention to provide a theoretical grounding on which people with differing points of view on worldview matters can dialogue in a climate of mutual respect and understanding, he failed miserably. For what he in fact did was give to either side in the culture war, the ultimate weapon: declare the other side "unreasonable," for once that sticks the game is over and there is no need to treat the other with respect or equal regard.

Kevin Jones, I'm at a bit of a loss to know why you make that point here. Surely you have understood by now that I did not bring up relativism out of a clear blue sky. I brought it up because it is, in fact, what is being _very heavily pushed_ under the header of the ACA guidelines, hence, for all people training to be counselors.

Perhaps my comments were too tangential, if they were I'm sorry for the distraction. I did acknowledge you were responding to the professor's comments themselves. My concern about repetitive critiques of relativism derives more from frustration with relativists than with conservatives.

The establishment's self-serving invocations of relativism obviously follow the pattern of Liberalism. W4 has certainly commented on other aspects of that pattern. I'm just trying to figure out whether relativism is foundational to that pattern or is a side-effect.

Ah, I see your point, Kevin. I think "self-serving invocation" may well be right. But of course in a legal context one has to respond to what people actually say. And in this case, bizarre as it seems, they actually seem to believe it. They don't even know when they are refuting themselves. I don't know about "foundational," but in our own historical context, it's one major source that is feeding the Beast.

Step2, I think Frank had a good example. Look, the point is that it's just nonsense to say that one must be trying to engage in "pastoral counseling" if one refuses to affirm the client's values and to assist the client in realizing his own goals as informed by his own values. One can easily think of counterexamples. Frank's is an excellent one. The judge is completely wrong to say that Ward can be told that she must "set aside" her beliefs for the counseling situation but that somehow this isn't the same thing as being asked to endorse homosexuality or to violate her beliefs. Not when she's being required to enable homosexual relationships! Let's remember that this is the same judge who brings in the Axson precedent and who says that the college has the legitimate power to "compel speech." The Axson precedent was about a Mormon girl training to be an actress who was being asked to talk very much like something other than a good Mormon girl on the stage! Try applying that to a real-life context: We're then saying that Ward can be legitimately asked to "set aside" her actual moral beliefs, _which means_ being made to talk like an ethical relativist who thinks that homosexual conduct is fine if it fits with the client's personal values--as if the counseling situation were a play-acting situation instead of the real-life situation that it is. Once the Axson precedent is expanded to forcing people to set aside their real beliefs, including religious and moral beliefs, and behave in _real_ situations "as if" they believed something completely different, we've really opened Pandora's box. Anyone with an interest in the force of legal precedent ought to be able to see that.

I'm really at a loss to see how Frank "derailed" anything here. He provided a good hypothetical example, and then followed it with a post that succinctly exposes the emperor's new clothes on liberalism without metaphysics. There is no neutrality; we are all now expected to affirm the goodness of homosexuality. The feminist therapist in Frank's example can get away with declining the pornographer client for now; what will she do when society finally comes around to see the "goodness" of pornography?

Oh, who cares what the judge says. His power to compel is zero, since his ruling is not binding on a Christian. Ward should keep doing what she does. Heck, is there no conscience clause in medicine - or is psychology not considered an allied medical field? Then, after being thrown out (you know she would be), expose the ACA to public inspection. Common sense is the best disinfectant for moral relativism. In a sense, people have to be trained to be relativists. Little kids have the sense to expose a magician at his craft.
The apostles would have had zero tolerance for moral relativism. It is not Ward who is sick, it is the counselors. The blind leading the blind. Aren't people allowed to raise their hands in class and ask for proof of the assertions that affirmation is the way to go?

Just be glad that real scientists are not sitting in on this class. They would reduce the instruction to nothing since they would balk at accepting statements of procedure without proof.

The Chicken

J. Christian, I actually wonder if the feminist therapist in Frank's example would be able to get away with it. Perhaps so, and here's how it would work, if so: The "rules" for when you are allowed to refer are fuzzy. Basically, you are allowed to refer _sometimes_, but you are supposed to try to play the good relativist and work with your client first. Chances are that the feminist wouldn't find out about the client's goals ahead of time, as Miss Ward did. Moreover, people in the actual situation Frank gives as an example are fairly rare, so the therapist probably wouldn't run into that situation during her practicum, when she would be most at the mercy of powerful professors, etc. If she were already a licensed counselor, ran into the situation in the course of therapy, and referred the client elsewhere, chances are slim that the client would attempt to get her disciplined by the licensing board for unprofessional conduct for making the referral. And if he did do so, she could always say that she had "tried" to work with him but "found" that their values differed too much. This might be allowed to fall under the "last resort" type of exception, since the conditions under which referrals are allowed are left somewhat vague and since (I'm guessing) there probably wouldn't be a recording of the session.

Ward got in trouble because a) she was under observation and in a practicum situation when the issue arose, hence very vulnerable, b) situations with homosexual clients are expected to come up with some frequency, and c) she tried to head off a reprimand for not engaging in value-neutral counseling by referring in advance, and subsequently said under intense questioning that she would not "affirm" such clients' values generally.

Of course, it's possible to make up hypothetical circumstances in which exactly this type of thing could happen to the feminist counselor. In that case, I suspect her feminism would get squished just as Ward's Christianity got squished.

Lydia makes a good point. What is odd about these cases is that people in professions are dehumanized in the name of professionalism. So, the professional is now merely a conduit to dispense a product-e.g., therapy, reproductive technology--rather than a person who may believe that his or her acts contribute to or diminish his or her virtue. Again, liberalism plays a fast one. All the talk about "tolerance of diversity" becomes moot if you can professionalize a particular practice. So, the physician who is required to refer a patient to an abortionist is no longer a prolife citizen with a reasonable comprehensive doctrine whose views are not respected; rather, she is a "professional" with certain obligations toward her patients. But if the liberal were serious about "reasonable comprehensive doctrines," then he would carve out exemptions for people like this physician. But he does not. Why not? Because he actually, down-deep, believes that these "reasonable comprehensive doctrines" are unreasonable. As long as the religious folks sat on the back of the secular bus and spoke only when spoken to, he and and his colleagues can pretend they "respect" the religious citizens. But once these citizens begin to take their own beliefs seriously, as items of real knowledge that answer the same questions so-called secular accounts of the world answer, the rules change.

I think it turns out that comprehensive worldviews (whether we consider them "reasonable" or not) that truly conflict are much harder to put together in a single, peaceful society than a lot of people realize. It's one thing to accommodate a Jewish person's desire not to work on the Sabbath. But that's not the kind of thing where the real conflict comes in. I believe that the homosexual issue is really turning into the do-or-die issue for most liberals. They are absolutely not willing to accommodate any dissent on it. It's interesting to see liberal commentators (yes, here on W4) who imply *at the same time* that conservatives are scare-mongers and also that people should just get over their problems with the requirement that homosexual behavior be treated as normal and as equivalent with heterosexuality in every sphere of life.

Liberalism has a long history prior to the 1980s - classical liberalism, especially. I would fall more into that category than modern liberalism, albeit I believe that Lockean property rights have been so thoroughly violated throughout history that we should treat existing artifacts and natural resources as unowned. Workers would then acquire ownership of the corporations they work for through the mixture of their labor with the means of production.

I think this form of liberalism conforms quite well to conservative aspirations. Can you imagine if neighborhoods were legally permitted to refuse housing to immigrants? This would be quite useful in Europe.

Classical liberalism is a good theory as long as it is construed as a theory of rights, not of duties. Every right has a corresponding duty, but not every duty has a corresponding right.

Also, I'm going to stick my neck out and be controversial by saying that we need more evidence on homosexuality to make a proper moral evaluation. I've seen evidence that it is associated with various ills, but in many instances it is not clear if they are inherent to the orientation. Consider the high rates of promiscuity in homosexual males - if you took a bunch of irreligious heterosexual men and gave them willing females, I would not be surprised to find similar rates of promiscuity. Males are more sexually available. What we need are studies comparing satisfaction rates between gay men pursuing several different lifestyles - celibate, monogamous, promiscuous. Although I think JPII is onto something in the theology of the body (I can't imagine affirming promiscuity, since that would contradict self-giving, or gay marriage, although I could see blessing gay unions), I do think it could be revised, and I refuse to make probability assessments on the magisterium changing a fallible doctrine.

John H. writes: "Liberalism has a long history prior to the 1980s - classical liberalism, especially."

I don't want to seem overly touchy, but if this is in reference to my comments above, I did distinguish between "political liberalism" from the liberalisms that have their roots in certain Enlightenment thinkers. So, I agree that liberalism is older than the 1980s.

John H. I doubt very much that the magisterium of the Catholic Church considers the objectively disordered nature of homosexuality and the intrinsically wrong nature of homosexual acts to be fallible doctrines. But then, I'm not Catholic.

In any event, your idea that "satisfaction rates" are somehow central to deciding the intrinsic rightness or wrongness of an act makes me think that you are probably rejecting a deontological approach to morality in favor of some form of utilitarianism or consequentialism. You also seem not to be considering the possibility that the greater promiscuity of homosexual males (and a study I was just reading about indicates that this is also true of those in supposedly "committed" relationships) over married heterosexual males is a result of the denial of the complementarity of male-female relationships, the forming of natural biological families (married mother-father-child), etc.

And you never answered my claim that you appeared to have contradicted yourself above.

I think it is important to point out that even relativists can have a hierarchy of values that enables them to hold that some values apply more widely than others.

For example, Schenck can hold that Keeton should keep her religious and moral values private even while imposing the current ethical standards for therapists on Keeton. He can do this without being an “idiot”, by holding that professional standards apply to all therapists, whereas her moral values are not universally accepted as applying to all people.

The beauty of postmodern liberalism is that it allows the relativist to have his cake and eat it too. It is just a matter of playing the right language games and creating the appropriate narrative.

With respect to tolerance, the postmodern liberal believes that we should all be tolerant of others except when their values interfere with someone else’s pursuit of happiness. Hence, there is no inconsistency in being intolerant of criminals, terrorists, and Christians who would impose their values on others.

The only problem with relativism is that it is a form of anti-ethics that leaves people trapped in their own wrong doing. A truly good life must conform to reality and not just to reality as you or I see it.

"Current ethical standards?" Are ethics really that fluid? Who decides the standards and on what basis? That is what makes this whole situation so frustrating. It is hard to hit a moving target. Ward's beliefs, however, are not changing. Ward's mistake was in bringing this into a forum where she really could not get a fair hearing. Did she really think she had any chance of winning? She should have started writing articles in high-profile journals exposing the arrogance of the program. It is anti-science and anti-religiion. One wonders what factual or logical basis they have for the decisions in their programs. This is not really just a liberal issue. This is an issue of research and science.

I would be willing to bet that the same nonsense goes on in education departments. The same nonsense does not go on in the hard sciences, since if one can do an experiment or provide a proof, pretty much one can win on the merits. Since the experimental basis of these disciplines is very flimsy, the education that goes on seems to be more political than academic.

The Chicken

Therapists are supposed to be experts at communication,

Yes, but the substance of what they communicate is of paramount importance. It seems the point of this training is to emphasize the procedure of communication that is devoid of any substance.

we need more evidence on homosexuality to make a proper moral evaluation.

Perhaps more evidence is needed to make an evaluation of personal guilt, if ever one could make such a determination. But as for the morality of homosexual acts themselves, no further evidence is needed.

For example, Schenck can hold that Keeton should keep her religious and moral values private even while imposing the current ethical standards for therapists on Keeton. He can do this without being an “idiot”, by holding that professional standards apply to all therapists, whereas her moral values are not universally accepted as applying to all people.

Well, no, I think Schenck is an idiot. She is utterly unaware of the prima facie self-refuting nature of her position. Why do the professional standards that Schenck and co. have set up apply to "all therapists"? The statement that they "apply to all therapists" is unclear. Does it mean, "They apply because we'll kick you out if you don't apply them"? Then that's a straightforward bullying move, not an argument--blatantly fallacious. Does it mean that they "apply to all therapists" because it is _true_ that it is unethical for Keeton to "impose her values"? But if certain things can be objectively unethical, why could it not be objectively unethical for a therapist not to tell a client if what he is doing is self-destructive? Why should it not be, specifically, objectively unethical for a therapist to enable a homosexual relationship? Why should not Schenck, the other teachers, and for that matter all the members of the ACA, be forced to "truly accept that others can have different beliefs and values that are equally valid as your own"?

I see no way in which relativists can have any reasonable justification for a hierarchy. The "hierarchy" in essence amounts to, "I only meant that just-your-personal-values stuff for _you_, not for _me_, because I'm the teacher, and the majority of the people in the profession agree with me."

But Schenck doesn't even get so far as making the ad baculum explicit. She's just blissfully unaware of the whole question.

And since when is simply _telling_ someone what you believe and giving him _advice_ based on that belief "interfering with his pursuit of happiness"? It used to be that libertine-liberals told us that they were against the state's making it _illegal_ to pursue your happiness. Now it also counts as some sort of illicit use of force merely to give advice? Even when you're a therapist who is being asked to help the person in the situation?

We've come a long way, baby.

Lydia - I must have overlooked your comment mentioning the contradiction. What I mean is this: the services of doctors, therapists, and so forth, ought to be employed only in order to satisfy a client's goals. That is not incompatible with holding that a doctor might have a duty to withhold service. In other words, only if a client's goals will be met by a service should a doctor provide a service, not if a client's goals will be met by a service should a doctor provide a service.

As for infallibility, the only infallible claims that can be established are ex cathedra pronouncements and those stated in ecumenical councils. Sometimes the Vatican appeals to the "ordinary and universal magisterium", which is infallible, but it is near impossible to establish; at any rate, the encyclicals appealing to this magisterium are themselves fallible in appealing to it. It is noteworthy that the majority of Catholic theologians dissent from official Catholic teaching in sexuality. There is the question of the duty to give "religious submission of intellect and will" to fallible teachings, but Cardinal Dulles has stated that this admits of degrees and the expression is unclear; it does not prohibit dissent in all cases.

I am not a consequentialist, I just don't see how homosexual acts could be contrary to charity unless they somehow lead to dissatisfaction among monogamous homosexual partners greater than that among homosexual celibates. It is true that one could be entirely satisfied, not cause harm to others, and still be living in sin - say, if one spends one's life as a functional heroin addict (if you have adequate money, use clean needles and are safe with the dosage, you can live with a heroin addiction capably). But I fail to see why homosexual activity is of that kind.

Also, I am not ignoring the possibility that gay male promiscuity could be due to, or partially be due to, a lack of complementarity. I just think we need more evidence. Mere possibilities are insufficient data to go on. I am suspending judgment on whether homosexual acts are objective evils, not affirming that they are not.

John H., you say you're not a consequentialist and then proceed to list nothing but consequences. Lydia the Protestant is right about the binding nature of Catholic teaching regarding homosexual acts, and you aren't. No insult intended, but get thee to a Catholic therapist. (I recommend Liccione.)

I'll just start asking Dr. George Rekers and Ted Haggard for their Christian advice.

Ain't that cute? No hypocritical sinners need apply. Saints ony, except that the kind we're looking for is one who doesn't believe in sin at all.

A small note but I don't think the feminist in Frank's example would think anything other than pornography is empowering and liberating for women. Such is the state of many current day feminists.

What I mean is this: the services of doctors, therapists, and so forth, ought to be employed only in order to satisfy a client's goals.

???????

"Doctor, I'm a mouse. My goal is to kill the cat next door..."

The services of anyone is supposed to be, first of all, directed to charity, which is the summum bonum, the highest good. Now, charity delights in the truth, not satisfaction, not goals. If the client's goals are not based in truth, it is uncharitable to pretend that they are, except, possibly for a time for a greater good. It is also a form of bearing false witness to pretend that the client's goals are reasonable when they are not. Sometimes, a person can be uncharitable in trying to be charitable because they have made appeasement a substitute for true charity. Charity can be very painful. This is something too many people forget. All chastisement (if charity must be painful or chastising) seems painful at the time, but it eventually leads to peace if it is based on the truth and the truth is followed. Peace is that tranquility that flows from right order.

at any rate, the encyclicals appealing to this magisterium are themselves fallible in appealing to it

??????????????

Just because the fallible Encyclopedia Britannica quotes an infallible pronouncement does not, thereby, cast any doubt as to the infallibility of the original announcement. Exactly what infallible pronouncement are you trying to hint at might not be infallible?

It is noteworthy that the majority of Catholic theologians dissent from official Catholic teaching in sexuality.

Source? This is really almost calumny. In fact, Pope Paul VI wrote Humanae Vitae specifically to refute the dissenting theologians. That was in 1968. What evidence is there to support the notion that most current theologians dissent from Catholic sexual teachings? Even if they did, so what? 2/3 of the world (including many theologians, one suspects) were fully Arians at one point. This attempt at ad Populum supports nothing pertaining to truth.

I just don't see how homosexual acts could be contrary to charity unless they somehow lead to dissatisfaction among monogamous homosexual partners greater than that among homosexual celibates.

I must say this, even though it might be painful to hear, but there is no charity in a homosexual act. The purpose of sex is rightly ordered to two things: procreation and unity of persons. Neither is possible in a homosexual act. Satisfaction has no real substantial part in the goods of sex. It is an accident. It is played up by Hollywood, but there are many people in difficult marriages who do not find satisfaction in sex and yet realize the sacramentality of the marriage and contribute to the unity of the marriage in ways other than sex. One need only, technically have sex once to consummate a marriage, but the relationship could then last a lifetime.

In fact, a homosexually-oriented celibate is in a more charitable state than someone in a homosexual relationship because the celibate person is closer to the true relationship of persons as dictated by reason, natural law, and God's revelation than the persons in a homosexual relationship and charity delights in the truth.

It is true that one could be entirely satisfied, not cause harm to others, and still be living in sin

If you believe this, you do not understand sin and its effects. There is no sin that does not cause harm to another. In fact, St. Catherine of Sienna, in, The Dialogue, goes so far as to say in a revelation from God that is is impossible to sin without another person being involved either directly or indirectly.

Also, I am not ignoring the possibility that gay male promiscuity could be due to, or partially be due to, a lack of complementarity.

???????????

The proper complementarity of a man is a woman. Promiscuity may be explained simply by the fact that he who sins is a slave to sin.

I have tried to be a charitable as possible, but the arguments in italics are not really compelling and badly ignore the constant teaching of the Church in this matter - the infallible teaching, not the rationalization of some theologians who have been discredited.

The Chicken

John H., you say you're not a consequentialist and then proceed to list nothing but consequences. Lydia the Protestant is right about the binding nature of Catholic teaching regarding homosexual acts, and you aren't. No insult intended, but get thee to a Catholic therapist. (I recommend Liccione.)

What do you mean? Some acts are wrong because of their intrinsic nature, such as killing an innocent man. This is despite the fact that would could use the innocent's organs to save many lives. But surely killing an innocent man is only wrong because of what it does to the innocent man. In other words, even for intrinsically wrong acts, there must be facts which make it wrong. I simply don't see how using one's genitalia to achieve pleasure with someone of the same sex could be a wrong-making fact in and of itself.

Also, you state that I am wrong about the binding nature, but you don't give an argument for it. I can appeal to the authority of dissenting theologians and even a Cardinal on the possibility of some cases; in the instance of birth control, I can appeal to several bishops councils (there more to the story than the Winnipeg Statement).

Mulder, Frank is imagining a rather unusual feminist. :-) Still, I'll bet there are some people who identify themselves as feminists who think that pornography is wrong because of the way it treats women. Maybe not many, but some.

And, yes, I must agree with Bill Luse, some of the arguments in italics, above, are consequentialist.

The Chicken

Also, you state that I am wrong about the binding nature, but you don't give an argument for it. I can appeal to the authority of dissenting theologians and even a Cardinal on the possibility of some cases; in the instance of birth control, I can appeal to several bishops councils (there more to the story than the Winnipeg Statement).

Just because you can find someone who will agree that 2+2 = 5 doesn't mean that you can build a rocket to the moon based on their statement.

The Chicken

Just because the fallible Encyclopedia Britannica quotes an infallible pronouncement does not, thereby, cast any doubt as to the infallibility of the original announcement. Exactly what infallible pronouncement are you trying to hint at might not be infallible?

The ordinary and universal magisterium is infallible. It is understood that if at any given point and time, all the bishops in the world hold a teaching to be definitive , that teaching is infallible. The problem is in showing that a teaching was held definitively. You could make a case as plausible that the teaching on slavery was part of the O&U as you can for homosexuality.

Papal encyclicals appealing to the O&U are themselves fallible in that the Pope may be wrong in claiming that such-and-such a doctrine is part of the O&U.

Source? This is really almost calumny. In fact, Pope Paul VI wrote Humanae Vitae specifically to refute the dissenting theologians. That was in 1968. What evidence is there to support the notion that most current theologians dissent from Catholic sexual teachings? Even if they did, so what? 2/3 of the world (including many theologians, one suspects) were fully Arians at one point. This attempt at ad Populum supports nothing pertaining to truth.

I don't have any source on hand; I got this from texts in the uni library. Father Curran was stripped of his teaching license, but he was not accused of being dishonest and remains a priest in good standing. Also, there is the notorious document from the Catholic University of America, signed by over 600 theologians, arguing that lay Catholics could in good conscience employ birth control. McBrien's Catholicism cites several bishops councils of Western countries affirming the permissibility of dissent.

My point is not to make an argument from majority; I only mentioned that it was noteworthy. However, given the dominant theological position of probabilism, it seems that lay people would be entirely in their rights to appeal to the authority of theologians in dissenting.

You reaffirm the official teaching on sexuality. I do not deny that the goods of sexuality are procreation and unity of persons, but I deny that one must achieve both goods in every sex act. There are other goods to consider. I also find it dubious that every homosexual has a strong psychological capacity for celibacy. Most people don't. [A "too much information" moment citing alleged negative health consequences of celibacy in men has been deleted for the sake of the tone of the site. Please abide by the spirit of this editorial interpolation. Thanks. LM]

John H:

I'm going to get to your point about Catholic teaching on homosexual acts, but first we need to focus on an ecclesiological point you made.

...the only infallible claims that can be established are ex cathedra pronouncements and those stated in ecumenical councils. Sometimes the Vatican appeals to the "ordinary and universal magisterium", which is infallible, but it is near impossible to establish; at any rate, the encyclicals appealing to this magisterium are themselves fallible in appealing to it.

That is not altogether accurate. For one thing, ecumenical councils exercise the extraordinary magisterium, which is infallible, only by means of dogmatic canons, i.e. statements of the form "If anyone denies that P, let him be anathema." That much is, to use your term, 'established'. Aside from that, what ecumenical councils say has the force only of the ordinary and universal magisterium (OUM).

Second, the question when the OUM is infallible began to be addressed by Vatican II. In Lumen Gentium §25, the Council said:

Although the individual bishops do not enjoy the prerogative of infallibility, they nevertheless proclaim Christ's doctrine infallibly whenever, even though dispersed through the world, but still maintaining the bond of communion among themselves and with the successor of Peter, and authentically teaching matters of faith and morals, they are in agreement on one position as definitively to be held.

What has not yet been "established" are the exact criteria Catholics are supposed to use to identify when the bishops are "in agreement on one position as definitively to be held," when such an agreement is not already manifest by a dogmatic canon. We have only one recorded case in which the Roman Magisterium itself has said that a given proposition has been set forth infallibly by the OUM without a dogmatic canon: John Paul II's 1994 declaration that "the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women." JP2 himself said, in the next clause, that "this judgment is to be definitively held by all the faithful." The very next year, then-Cardinal Ratzinger, in his capacity as head of the CDF and speaking for the Pope, wrote:

This teaching requires definitive assent, since, founded on the written Word of God, and from the beginning constantly preserved and applied in the Tradition of the Church, it has been set forth infallibly by the ordinary and universal Magisterium (cf. Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium 25, 2).

So it's been "established" that, when a given belief is "founded on the written word of God" and "constantly preserved and applied in the Tradition of the Church," the OUM has set it forth infallibly.

Of course many theologians protested, and continue to protest. They say that the proposition "the Church has no authority to ordain women to the priesthood" was never affirmed in a "definitive act" by the entire college of bishops, so that we cannot establish, on grounds other than the Vatican's say-so, that V2's criterion for the infallibility of the OUM has been satisfied in this case. That much is true. Therefore, they say, Ratzinger was simply wrong to cite LG §25 for saying that the belief in question had been infallibly set forth by the OUM.

But that doesn't follow at all. The objection overlooks something that ought to be obvious.

What is a "definitive act" of the OUM supposed to look like, if we're not talking about a dogmatic canon of an ecumenical council, which would make it an act of the extraordinary magisterium? A few dissenting theologians, such as Francis Sullivan and Richard Gaillardetz, have proposed candidates. As you might expect, a CDF responsum isn't one of them. But of course, absent a statement by a pope or a delegate speaking in his name, the suitability of such candidates is itself a matter of opinion among theologians. So, if the question what counts as satisfying LG §25's criterion for the infallibility of the OUM is to be left to theological opinion, then that very category would be effectively empty. In fact, the only way to settle controversy about whether a given belief or teaching belongs in that category is that a pope, or a delegate speaking for him, says so. Not even a statement made by an ecumenical council would suffice, unless ratified by the pope. But such say-so is precisely what Wojtyla and Ratzinger rendered on the matter of women's ordination. To reject what they did is in effect to render the very category: "infallibly set forth by the OUM" empty. And that's exactly what dissenting theologians want to do. The words of Vatican II on the point are rendered vacuous; all we've got left is the "spirit" of Vatican II, which bends with the wind.

Now once we've emptied out the relevant category, or think we've emptied it out, then we're free to dissent from any proposition that has not been formally defined by the extraordinary magisterium--i.e., by either a papal ex cathedra pronouncement or a dogmatic canon of a council ratified by a pope as ecumenical and binding. Very few moral teachings of the Church have been so defined. As far as I know, the teaching on homosexual acts isn't one of them. And this is why you can feel free to take the position you do about said teaching's level of authority.

But it shouldn't be necessary for the pope or the bishops to come out and contradict that stance with an act of the extraordinary magisterium. The Church's teaching that homosexual acts are immoral--along with contraception, fornication, adultery, and many other things--goes back for as far as we have records. It is evident that such teaching is "founded on the written word of God" and "constantly preserved and applied in the Tradition of the Church." To reject those criteria as insufficient to "establish" the irreformability of such teachings is to hold, in effect, that the category of the infallibility of the OUM is meaningless.

But such a position can only be held at quite a cost. It entails, among other things, that all sorts of teachings now taken as uncontroversial--for example, that Christ's once-for-all sacrifice affords grace sufficient for the salvation of each and every human being, or that the direct, voluntary killing of innocent human beings is always gravely immoral--are really just matters of opinion. For neither of those beliefs has been formally defined by the extraordinary magisterium. Worse, it entails that no Christian belief at all had been infallibly set forth prior to the first ecumenical council--an absurd idea, since no such council, and no pope on his own, has ever claimed that their dogmatic decrees do more than set forth the "faith once delivered to the saints." Was everything before then just a matter of opinion, save the proposition that councils and popes can make it more than a matter of opinion? Ridiculous.

No, if there are any irreformable moral teachings of the Church, then that against homosexual acts has to count as one.

Best,
Mike

But it shouldn't be necessary for the pope or the bishops to come out and contradict that stance with an act of the extraordinary magisterium. The Church's teaching that homosexual acts are immoral--along with contraception, fornication, adultery, and many other things--goes back for as far as we have records. It is evident that such teaching is "founded on the written word of God" and "constantly preserved and applied in the Tradition of the Church." To reject those criteria as insufficient to "establish" the irreformability of such teachings is to hold, in effect, that the category of the infallibility of the OUM is meaningless.

Of course it does. So do many teachings of the Church which have changed. Teachings on usury, slavery, and religious liberty come to mind, as well as subtler points about sexuality (if I recall, it was once held that sex acts must be performed with the intention of procreating). The Vatican sternly opposed democracy from its beginning.

But such a position can only be held at quite a cost. It entails, among other things, that all sorts of teachings now taken as uncontroversial--for example, that Christ's once-for-all sacrifice affords grace sufficient for the salvation of each and every human being, or that the direct, voluntary killing of innocent human beings is always gravely immoral--are really just matters of opinion. For neither of those beliefs has been formally defined by the extraordinary magisterium. Worse, it entails that no Christian belief at all had been infallibly set forth prior to the first ecumenical council--an absurd idea, since no such council, and no pope on his own, has ever claimed that their dogmatic decrees do more than set forth the "faith once delivered to the saints." Was everything before then just a matter of opinion, save the proposition that councils and popes can make it more than a matter of opinion? Ridiculous.

Evangelium Vitae, I think, might fit the O&U, because the Pope consulted with the bishops prior to its issuance. Nevertheless, I think it is not too difficult to distinguish core from peripheral beliefs. Isn't that capacity what is meant by the sense of the faithful? Even the Vatican acknowledges a difference between the deposit of faith and applications of that deposit. The applications are corollaries; the question is whether or not we make correct applications.

Father Curran was stripped of his teaching license, but he was not accused of being dishonest and remains a priest in good standing. Also, there is the notorious document from the Catholic University of America, signed by over 600 theologians, arguing that lay Catholics could in good conscience employ birth control. McBrien's Catholicism cites several bishops councils of Western countries affirming the permissibility of dissent.

This is most disturbing. You did not explain why he was stripped of his license, Let the redoubtable Wikipedia speak:

Charles Curran was ordained in Rome in 1958 for the Diocese of Rochester, New York. As a young priest, he was a peritus at the Second Vatican Council. Curran was previously removed from his tenured faculty position at Catholic University of America (CUA) in 1967 for his views on birth control, but was reinstated after a five-day faculty-led strike.[1] Curran then returned to prominence, however, in 1968 when he, along with a group of some 600 theologians, authored a response to Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI's encyclical affirming the traditional ban on artificial contraception. Curran continued to teach and write on the Church's teaching in various moral issues, including premarital sex, masturbation, contraception, abortion, homosexual acts, divorce, euthanasia, and in vitro fertilization throughout the 1970s and 1980s.

Curran was removed from the faculty of Catholic University of America in 1986 as a dissident who unapologetically maintained the right to dissent from official Church teachings which had not been issued as ex cathedra statements. He maintains in his 1986 "Faithful Dissent" that Catholics who may dissent nevertheless accept the teaching authority of the Pope, bishops and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

In 1986, the Vatican declared that although a tenured professor, Curran could no longer teach theology at Catholic University of America schools, because "clashes with church authorities finally culminated in a decision by the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, headed by then-Cardinal Josef Ratzinger [now Pope Benedict XVI], that Curran was neither suitable nor eligible to be a professor of Catholic theology."[2] The areas of dispute included publishing articles that debated theological and ethical views regarding divorce, "artificial contraception", "masturbation, pre-marital intercourse and homosexual acts."[3]

The theologians were in dissent when they signed the letter in protest of Humanae Vitae. It was promulgated and contained language which may be taken as quasi-extraordinary, as Mike explained, above. It says:

14. Therefore We base Our words on the first principles of a human and Christian doctrine of marriage when We are obliged once more to declare that the direct interruption of the generative process already begun and, above all, all direct abortion, even for therapeutic reasons, are to be absolutely excluded as lawful means of regulating the number of children. (14) Equally to be condemned, as the magisterium of the Church has affirmed on many occasions, is direct sterilization, whether of the man or of the woman, whether permanent or temporary. (15)

Similarly excluded is any action which either before, at the moment of, or after sexual intercourse, is specifically intended to prevent procreation—whether as an end or as a means. (16)

Neither is it valid to argue, as a justification for sexual intercourse which is deliberately contraceptive, that a lesser evil is to be preferred to a greater one, or that such intercourse would merge with procreative acts of past and future to form a single entity, and so be qualified by exactly the same moral goodness as these. Though it is true that sometimes it is lawful to tolerate a lesser moral evil in order to avoid a greater evil or in order to promote a greater good," it is never lawful, even for the gravest reasons, to do evil that good may come of it (18)—in other words, to intend directly something which of its very nature contradicts the moral order, and which must therefore be judged unworthy of man, even though the intention is to protect or promote the welfare of an individual, of a family or of society in general. Consequently, it is a serious error to think that a whole married life of otherwise normal relations can justify sexual intercourse which is deliberately contraceptive and so intrinsically wrong. [My bolding]

This is about as close as one can come to an infallible statement without a formal act. If this does not count as an infallible act of the Ordinary Magisterium, then nothing does. The Pope declares a specific statement and cites Scripture and the constant teaching of the Church to back him up.

Those 600 theologians were in dissent at the time. The very orthodox Thomist scholar, late Dr. Ralph McInernny (may he rest in peace), was at Notre Dame at the time this was happening, wrote a book which I highly recommend called, What Went Wrong with Vatican II, There is an except available, online. He discussed the liberal theologians of the day. My guess is that you were too young to be around, then. The book puts certain things in perspective.

As for Fr. McBrien, I don't know what to say without becoming uncharitable. He is, in my opinion, the leading Catholic dissident in the country. In my opinion, one should be using other texts (including looking at the primary source material, yourself) instead of his text. My guess is that you are young. You should begin to get into the habit of going back to the original source material when possible, rather than trusting the opinions of others. You may find that things are not what they seem.

I have many other things to say about chastity, but we seem to have high-jacked the post into a discussion of the theology of homosexuality rather than about the licitness of Ward and Keeton's problems. I will leave the discussion to return to the topic of the post.

The Chicken

Nevertheless, I think it is not too difficult to distinguish core from peripheral beliefs. Isn't that capacity what is meant by the sense of the faithful?

No.

The Chicken

What is freely asserted can be freely denied.

One final thing: in case John H., don't click on the link in my post and read the article by Ralph McInerny, his discussion is so important to the issue of dissent that I will quote from it (assuming the forbearance of the blog-owners):

[Quote]
The spirit of Vatican II urges us to balance what the Magisterium says with other points of view throughout the Church. Magisterial teaching is referred to as the "official" teaching of the Church, as if there were another, rival teaching that could trump the Pope.

But what does Vatican II itself say about this? After speaking of the college of bishops and the collegiality that characterizes the episcopal office, Vatican 11 declares that not even bishops, acting apart from the Pope, have any authority in the Church:

The college or body of bishops has for all that no authority unless united with the Roman Pontiff, Peter's successor, as its head, whose primatial authority, let it be added, over all, whether pastors or faithful, remains in its integrity. For the Roman Pontiff, by reason of his office as the Vicar of Christ, namely, and as pastor of the entire Church) has full, supreme, and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered.23

Obviously, if even bishops, singly or collectively, have no authority apart from the Pope, no other group in the Church has such authority. No other group has the role of accepting or rejecting papal teaching and advising the faithful that they may rightly reject papal teaching.

In a word, according to, Vatican II, the Pope is "the supreme pastor and teacher of all the faithful,"24 the successor of St. Peter, the Vicar of Christ on earth. He is head of the college of bishops. He can himself, independent of the bishops, exercise the supreme Magisterium.

In light of this, there seems simply to be no way to read the teachings of Vatican II and find in them any basis for the postconciliar view promoted by some theologians that papal teaching can be legitimately rejected by Catholics.

Yet some theologians continue trying. They suggest that Catholics are bound only by Church teaching that is infallible by dint of being formally and solemnly defined. According to them, such instruments of the Magisterium as encyclicals should be treated with respect, but Catholics have the option of setting their teaching aside.

Catholics Must Submit to the Pope

Is there any support in Vatican II for such a conception? Is acceptance on the part of the faithful limited to solemnly defined teachings, clearly infallible for that reason? The Second Vatican Council also answers this question clearly and forcefully:

This loyal submission of the will and intellect must be given in a special way to the authentic teaching authority of the Roman Pontiff, even when he does not speak ex cathedra, in such wise, indeed, that his supreme teaching authority be acknowledged with respect, and that one sincerely adhere to the decisions made by him, conformably with his manifest mind and intention, which is made known principally either by the character of the documents in question, or by the frequency with which. a certain doctrine is proposed, or by the manner in which the doctrine is formulated.25

Unfortunately, some theologians, particularly moral theologians, for reasons we will examine in subsequent chapters, have simply rejected this clear teaching of Vatican II. They have come to see their role as one of criticizing, passing judgment on, and even dismissing magisterial teaching.

There is no surer protection against this attempted usurpation than the documents of Vatican II themselves and particularly the passages just quoted from the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium.26

There is, of course, something odd in the effort to quarrel with what are obviously teachings of the Church and therefore require religious assent from Catholics. It is almost as if the aim were to discover how little one need believe. But surely, as Vatican II urges, it should be the mark of Catholics that they take on the mind and heart of the Church and show gratitude for God's great gift of the Magisterium.

The calibration of Church teachings that is suggested by distinguishing between the ordinary and extraordinary Magisterium is an important one, but it does not justify any distinction between magisterial, papal teachings that need to be accepted by Catholics and those that do not.

Indeed, to advise Catholics to ignore clear magisterial teachings is to advise them to reject the clear teaching of Vatican II. How ironic that the council should be invoked as warrant for dissenting from the Magisterium when it is precisely the council that rules this out.

To accept Vatican II is to accept what the council says about the Magisterium and the Catholic's obligation to obey it.

As we will soon see, public and sustained rejection of the Magisterium and of this clear teaching of Vatican II - largely by dissenting theologians - has caused and sustained the crisis in the Church.
[End Quote]

The Chicken

John H:

Of course it does. So do many teachings of the Church which have changed. Teachings on usury, slavery, and religious liberty come to mind, as well as subtler points about sexuality (if I recall, it was once held that sex acts must be performed with the intention of procreating). The Vatican sternly opposed democracy from its beginning.

First, and with the exception of sex and procreation, that is precisely the set of issues I discussed with some other people in this thread. The position I took there is consistent with the position I'm taking here. If you want to go ahead and dispute that claim, your time is yours to waste. Since I didn't discuss sex and procreation, I'll do so here.

Some fathers and doctors of the Church, most notably Augustine, held that sexual intercourse between people married to each other is only permissible when they are positively seeking to procreate. But not all of them held that, and it hasn't been generally held by theologians since the late Middle Ages. It cannot be inferred from the Bible or from other sources extant from the pre-Nicene Church. Ergo, it cannot be said to be "founded on the written word of God" and "constantly preserved and applied in the teaching of the Church." Ergo, there is no reason to believe it ever was infallibly taught by the OUM.

Second, the really puzzling thing about the statement of yours I started by quoting, which occurs in your first paragraph, is that it appears to contradict your last paragraph. Thus if, as you appear to affirm in your first paragraph, the category: "infallibly taught by the OUM" is effectively empty, then it's unclear how, with a straight face, you can go on to say in your last that

Evangelium Vitae, I think, might fit the O&U, because the Pope consulted with the bishops prior to its issuance. Nevertheless, I think it is not too difficult to distinguish core from peripheral beliefs. Isn't that capacity what is meant by the sense of the faithful?

Didn't you read either what I said or what you yourself had said? I had said that, if the question what counts as satisfying the criteria set forth by LG §25 is a matter of opinion, then the category is effectively empty. In your first paragraph, you agree with that. But here you say that "Evangelium Vitae"--an encyclical, and thus of a genre you had previously said was fallible--might be infallible because "the bishops were consulted." But the suggestion that consultation with the bishops prior to issuance suffices to show an encyclical's teaching to be OUM-infallible is a mere opinion. And leaving such a matter to opinion is just what I said renders the category empty. So if that's what you think, of what use is offering opinions about what belongs in that category?

The same goes for the distinction between "core" and "peripheral" beliefs. Assuming such a distinction obtains, by what authority is it to be applied? The sense of the faithful? Which faithful? The majority in a Gallup poll? That's just another opinion. As we know, opinions are like something else that everybody's got.

You really don't believe there is such a thing as the infallibility of the OUM. Or if you do believe it, you don't think it has any epistemic force. So much for Vatican II, which exercised the OUM without defining a single dogma. But then you'd better be ready to pay the bill I presented.


Best,
Mike

There is a lot to be said here. I'll try to address what I can.

First, and with the exception of sex and procreation, that is precisely the set of issues I discussed with some other people in this thread. The position I took there is consistent with the position I'm taking here. If you want to go ahead and dispute that claim, your time is yours to waste. Since I didn't discuss sex and procreation, I'll do so here.

As far as I can tell,
(1) You agree with me that fallible doctrine has changed;
(2) You think that Catholics should presume the truth of fallible doctrine;
(3) You think that lay Catholics cannot discriminate between reformable and irreformable doctrine.

I disagree with (2) and (3). (2) implies that a lay medieval Catholic should presume burning heretics is righteous; that strikes me as a reductio ad absurdum. I think that fallible doctrine is prima facie warranted, but that warrant can be overridden when one is aware of reasons to disbelieve the doctrine. (3) implies that a lay medieval Catholic couldn't perceive that the burning of heretics is contrary to the Gospel; that also strikes me as a reductio ad absurdum.

Now, I don't think that there is a a strict methodology by which a layperson could make such discriminations, nor do I think he cannot err in this judgment. But the same is true of most things - skilled businessmen with insider knowledge don't follow an exact procedure, though they have rules of thumb, and can still make a bad decision from time to time. That doesn't mean they lack competence.

Some fathers and doctors of the Church, most notably Augustine, held that sexual intercourse between people married to each other is only permissible when they are positively seeking to procreate. But not all of them held that, and it hasn't been generally held by theologians since the late Middle Ages. It cannot be inferred from the Bible or from other sources extant from the pre-Nicene Church. Ergo, it cannot be said to be "founded on the written word of God" and "constantly preserved and applied in the teaching of the Church." Ergo, there is no reason to believe it ever was infallibly taught by the OUM.

Maybe so, but then why assume that openness to procreation in every sex act is any more part of the deposit of the faith? I don't even think that the Church maintains that it is part of the deposit, unless you have a source that says otherwise.

Didn't you read either what I said or what you yourself had said? I had said that, if the question what counts as satisfying the criteria set forth by LG §25 is a matter of opinion, then the category is effectively empty. In your first paragraph, you agree with that. But here you say that "Evangelium Vitae"--an encyclical, and thus of a genre you had previously said was fallible--might be infallible because "the bishops were consulted." But the suggestion that consultation with the bishops prior to issuance suffices to show an encyclical's teaching to be OUM-infallible is a mere opinion. And leaving such a matter to opinion is just what I said renders the category empty. So if that's what you think, of what use is offering opinions about what belongs in that category?

Suppose we had a record of every bishop casting a vote on doctrine X. There was were boxes listed "definitive" and "not definitive"; every bishop marked "definitive". In this instance we would have evidence that the contents of an encyclical affirming X were infallible by the OUM. Any theological opinion on the criteria would have to admit that. My understanding of Evangelium Vitae's genesis is not detailed, but it seems analogous to the above.

As for the duty of religious submission of intellect and will, I'll quote Cardinal Dulles (source: http://vatican2voice.org/8conscience/dulles.htm):

Most of the difficulty arises in the sphere of noninfallible teaching, which, as we have seen, is reformable. Such teaching is not proposed as the word of God, nor does the church ask its members to submit with the assent of faith. Rather, the church asks for what is called in official documents obsequium animi religiosum - a term which, depending on the context, can be suitably translated by "religious submission of the mind," "respectful readiness to accept," or some such phrase. This term actually includes a whole range of responses that vary according to the context of the teaching, its relationship to the gospel, the kind of biblical and traditional support behind it, the degree of assent given to it in the church at large, the person or office from which the teaching comes, the kind of document in which it appears, the constancy of the teaching, and the emphasis given to the teaching in the text or texts. Because the matter is so complex, one cannot make any general statement about what precisely amounts to "religious submission of the mind." (See on this subject Ladislas Orsy, S.J., "Reflections on the Text of a Canon," America, May 17, 1986, pp. 396-99.)
.........
A step beyond the council was taken by the German bishops in a pastoral letter of September 22, 1967, which has been quoted on several occasions by Karl Rahner. This letter recognized that in its effort to apply the gospel to the changing situations of life, the church is obliged to give instructions that have a certain provisionality about them. These instructions, though binding to a certain degree, are subject to error. According to the bishops, dissent may be legitimate provided that three conditions are observed. (1) One must have striven seriously to attach positive value to the teaching in question and to appropriate it personally. (2) One must seriously ponder whether one has the theological expertise to disagree responsibly with ecclesiastical authority. (3) One must examine one's conscience for possible conceit, presumptuousness, or selfishness. Similar principles for conscientious dissent had already been laid down by John Henry Newman in the splendid chapter on Conscience in his Letter to the Duke of Norfolk (1874).

And John was wondering why I didn't offer an argument - for fear of exactly what has happened.

Lydia's poor thread.

My apologies for getting caught up in the thread-jacking. On the original topic, a question: how can one fight relativism? It's like trying to strangle water.

The Chicken

Chicken, good question. I don't know. I tend to think maybe, in brutally practical terms, the only way is by starting a new counseling association (and similar moves in other contexts). Something like that has been done with college accreditation. Nor are the only alternative accreditation agencies religious/Christian ones.

I too apologize for hijacking the thread, Lydia. The whole, very Catholic business of distinguishing between reformable and irreformable doctrine is a personal specialty of mine. When I see people making hash of it, I kick right into gear.


Best,
Mike

I think the real crux of the issue is whether therapy - or, for that matter, medicine as a whole - should aim to prevent objective harms. It seems to me this isn't the case, or at least it shouldn't be the case: they (should) exist only to fulfill the goals of their clients. If a Jehovah's Witness refuses blood transfusion, it's an objective harm, but so be it. Similarly with a homosexual. If medical services were to focus on preventing objective harms, I fear it would be a destabilizing influence on a pluralistic society (that being said, it would also be destabilizing if medical professionals weren't allowed to refuse clients).

I think you are confusing two separate things - the curing of objective harms, and a patients right to refuse to be cured. Medicine's goal shuld be to cure objective harms, and in the JW example, that is what medicine does. Medicine says "you need a transfusion". The JW can simply then say "I don't need medicine" and refuse the transfusion. The Dr. has not condoned or conceded the JW's course of conduct was right, the Dr. only recognizes that all he can do is propose treatment, and can't force it upon the JW (absent court order).

What this situation is saying is that the Dr. (or counselor in this case) has to put aside his objective determination of what's best for the patient and affirm the patient in what he believes to be destructive conduct. In other words, not just recognize he can't force the "transfusion" on you, but actually agree with the patient that the transfusion would not be good for him and support him in that determination.

I didn't read the entire Axson-Flynn case, but I did notice that the conflict emerged over the use of obscenities; it did not revolve around her stated objection to removing her clothes. Funny what the instructors feel is "pedagogically necessary" to learning to act: saying "f---" is necessary, but performing a nude scene isn't. Otherwise, why did they push on one and not the other?

Applying it to the Ward case, I assume this would mean that they could require her to write a paper or role play a counseling session that involved affirming a homosexual client?

Otherwise, why did they push on one and not the other?

Probably because forcing someone to use obscenities seems more innocuous than forcing them to take of their clothes, hence, a better chance of the obscenity requirement being enforced.

On the original topic, a question: how can one fight relativism? It's like trying to strangle water.

Yes it is. And at times, it's even hard to recognize.

I guess the best way to fight relativism is to not be a relativist, and to not be one loudly and clearly.

(voices like those here at WWWtW have done an immeasurable job in helping me along, for which I am eternally grateful... man, am I going to miss Zippy).

I don't think the article adresses the true issue if these secular counselors have beleifs that are fundemental it wouldn't matter if they were religiously based or not they shouldn't be the secular advisor at a college with people of all different creeds and beleifs they should be counseling for a more specific group of people
secondarily i think there is a fine line between impressing beleifs on a person and advising them and just as the advisors weren't able to accept the doctorine of relativism in this case due to fundemental beleifs the people they are advising have fundementally important aspects of themeselves as well and these fundemental aspects shouldn't be questioned the counseler in being the couselor unless behavior is illegal must understand and be able to appropriately respond to a person even when they directly contradict their own beleifs because if not couselors could be limited to only the most experienced people in a robust gallery of categories (which would make most of the qualified people over the retirement age)this notion is utterly rediculous but it is the reason why no matter how offended a counselor may get he/she can't impose fundemental beleifs on a person

So...having a code of ethics is either unethicalor, at the very least, unprofessional(?)

Worse still, when he told the pastors of the church this, to inform them that they needed to do some teaching, the pastors couldn't see what the problem was.

I believe this statement lies very close to the heart of the problem. There are thousands (perhaps millions) of churches who claim to be "Christian" whose doctrines clearly contradict the very principles of Christianity. In some cases, this can be seen at the surface. In others, one must dig deep into the doctrinal foundations of the church in question. Far too many churches claim be "christian" churches when, in fact, they are not. Instead, they are perversions of what the Bible teaches about true Christian doctrine. And a church which perverts what the Bible teaches about true Christian doctrine is, by definition, a cult. With so many doctrines professing to be "christian", it's no wonder that moral relativism has gained a foothold in our society. Millions of people who are sitting in churches throughout the world every Sunday are going to come to rude awakening some day. This throws a big monkey wrench into the evangelistic mission of true Christians. How do you help someone who doesn't think they need help? Obviously, faith is ultimately a matter of personal choice but how do you demonstrate to someone that the choice they have made is wrong? The moment you attempt to do this, you are labeled as intolerant. There is no such thing as _relative_ truth. Truth is absolute and unchangeable. If it ain't absolute, it ain't truth

Temizlik Makinaları ve Temizlik Makinası sektöründe dünyanın en iyileri arasında bulunan ve İngiltere Chard'da bulunan Numatic, bünyesinde 700'ün üzerinde personelle sizlere en iyi hizmeti vermektedir.


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