I’m a nerd. I’m a nerd about a lot of subjects – a metanerd, perhaps. I’m a nerd about language, about science, and about moral theology, among other topics. And one of the things I especially love about these particular areas is how beautifully synthesized they are. Language helps us articulate scientific inquiry and discovery more accurately. Science supports authentic moral theology far more often than most people realize. And authentic moral theology crosses over into poetry when properly expressed in words.

Another thing these three subjects have in common is they each have an objective basis – a foundation from which to operate with clarity. Yes, language evolves and is often misused, but digging into the source of words is fascinating and enlightening and helps us root out linguistic abuses. Science operates in very much the same way. If the scientific method is properly followed, there follows a natural openness and curiosity for the truth – and the results often lead us in directions we don’t expect. That method helps us stay on track, and helps prevent false conclusions and misrepresentations. And then there’s moral theology. As human beings, it is imperative that we know who we are, and what our purpose is. God has made the answer to both of these items clear, and we have some 4,000 years of relationship with our Creator on which to base our understanding.

In light of all this, it is disturbing to see, hear and read how all three of these topics have become subject to majority opinion, rather than being based on objective reality. I’ll provide just a handful of examples, but the list is much longer. This mindset of voting on morality and science has become commonplace, and it’s a very recent trend – almost all taking place within the last 60 years or so.

 

Pregnancy

Did you know that before 1965, every medical textbook defined pregnancy as starting at fertilization? This takes place in the fallopian tube, and that new baby grows and travels through the tube for about 8-10 days before implanting into the endometrium – the lining of the mother’s uterus. But as “The Pill” was being developed in the late 50s and early 60s, Planned Parenthood and others began lobbying the ACOG (the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology) to change the definition of pregnancy. They knew the newly-developed birth control pill would be a financial gold mine, but they had a problem. The Pill’s secondary effect ends the baby’s life before implementation (by thinning the endometrium, making it impossible for the baby to implant itself). So, to make this situation more palatable (and to avoid having to call it an “abortion”), they needed to have the definition changed by a group whose opinion on the matter would be respected. They convinced the ACOG of how they would financially benefit, as well, and in 1965, the definition was changed. No valid scientific reasoning went into this, mind you  –  just a vote on what they wanted a word to mean.

 

Homosexuality

Before 1973, homosexuality was considered a psychological disorder, and was listed as such by the APA (the American Psychiatric Association). But largely due to internal political pressure, a slight majority (less than 60%) of the board of trustees that year voted to remove homosexuality from the DSM – the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. This was not based on scientific nor moral reasoning – just a political vote. In fact, one of the key players in that vote was Dr. Robert Spitzer. He later admitted that homosexuality could be altered through certain voluntary treatments, as ample data was available to show this. After acknowledging the data supporting this fact, he was mercilessly vilified by LGBT pressure groups until finally succumbing to them and apologizing for making such statements. It’s worth noting that his apology wasn’t based on any new scientific discoveries whatsoever. He simply regretted speaking up, but it’s easy to find dozens of articles on the subject that conveniently avoid this lack of science involved in his decision.

 

Marriage, Contraception, and Abortion

Since the dawn of civilization, marriage has been seen as the building block of our society and fundamentally healthy for well-functioning communities. Why? Because it provided a committed bond between the complementary gifts of man and woman. Marriage has a tendency to civilize men and acts as protection for women and assures that the human family will live on through procreation of children who receive the example of what it means to be a man and what it means to be a woman. While not always perfect, to be sure, the institution has been an integral part of how we see ourselves and appreciate the opposite sex. And since Jesus Christ raised marriage to the level of sacrament, the grace that comes from a Christian marriage is especially helpful in working through the less-than-ideal moments that couples experience.

The Catholic Church has staunchly stood by the indissolubility of marriage for centuries, but as the Protestant Reformation began in the 16th century, challenges to marriage became more prominent – most notably with King Henry VIII splitting with Rome over wanting a divorce. To many, “marriage” has not been the same since then. The word has been redefined. Within most Christian denominations, the idea of ‘til death do us part’ has become little more than a quaint nod to tradition, while the proliferation of prenuptial agreements and “serial monogamy” have indicated a serious lack of commitment.

This speaks to what marriage’s twofold purpose is: babies and bonding. (More formally – the aspects of fecundity and unity.) Since our society has largely done away with any acknowledgement of the unitive aspect, it’s no wonder that the procreational aspect has come under fire, as well.

Before the 1930 Lambeth Conference of the Anglicans, no Christian denomination accepted contraception. They all had always taught that this was immoral, including at the 1920 Lambeth Conference of those same Anglicans! However, by a vote at that 1930 conference, the Anglican bishops decided that contraception was okay within marriage. Since then, every Christian church and denomination except one – the Catholic Church – caved in to societal and political pressure to change their stance.

As one Methodist minister said at the early part of this century, “once we decided that sterile heterosexual sex within marriage was acceptable, we lost the moral authority to oppose gay marriage.” And it’s interesting this was acknowledged by a Methodist minister, in particular. Allen Hunt was the longtime pastor of the largest Methodist congregation in America. However, he became increasingly unsettled by the fact that the Methodists would gather every four years to vote on matters of morality, like marriage and abortion. He found that what made this process even more strange is that those voting were an even mixture of clergy and laypeople – many of the latter having received no formal training in moral theology whatsoever, and a fair number of them weren’t even regularly attending a Methodist church. The Methodists bishops who were at these meetings were the ones who would NOT vote. This lack of moral authority or clarity led Allen Hunt to eventually convert to Catholicism, as he noted how clearly the Catholic Church spoke out on virtually all issues of morality – including marriage, abortion and contraception.

 

Voting on Science and Morality Now and in the Future

Though it’s beyond the scope of this post, I don’t have to point out to you that even one’s sex is now being questioned and voted on. Climate and other environmental issues have brought into play the oxymoronic phrase, “scientific consensus.” The effects of certain foods, drugs, technology and other items are now tragically influenced by crony capitalism and by agenda-driven government and educational grant money. Science in this and other areas has become a caricature of itself, and our society is woefully and morally confused as a result.

Truth remains Truth, however, and is not subject to a vote. This can be a lonely premise to stand behind, but it’s still worth fighting for.