Our Humanity, Naturally
A club for humanists.
by Dave Niose
When morality is absolute, it doesn’t change easily
When President Obama announced his support for same-sex marriage last week, he revealed a stance that had “evolved.” Those who oppose his position – usually on religious grounds – often insist that same-sex marriage is immoral, an affront to absolute, unchanging principles that simply don’t “evolve.” Marriage is between man and woman, period.
Thus, once again we find a culture-war issue with social conservatives postured as defending moral absolutes, while liberals wander the treacherous landscape of relativism with a seemingly fluid sense of right and wrong. In a political environment – where “traditional values” have currency and complex ideas don’t – the notion of moral absolutism often resonates, and “moral relativism” can be easily demonized by fear-mongering opportunists. If liberals have a problem with political posturing, few issues illustrate it better than the absolutism vs. relativism debate.
As modernity moves forward, there are constant tensions over challenges to traditional morality. The most obvious area is sex, where the advance of science and technology (especially birth control) has prompted reconsideration of many longstanding norms and taboos, revolutionizing society and transforming life in numerous ways. Not surprisingly, despite much progress, we see frequent hesitation and even fierce resistance to change, especially from pockets of deep religious conservatism.
To read the rest of the Psychology Today article by AHA President David Niose, click here.