Love is Not a Feeling

We can look at the pathologies of the contemporary secular mind through a number of lenses.

False alternatives are standard fare in contemporary Christian approaches to political issues, where “love”—a code word for whatever the political piety du jour may be—is set in opposition to “dogma” or “doctrine”—code words for whatever piece of traditional Christian teaching is deemed to be inconsistent with said political piety. Therefore, the Georgetown Visitation incident is emblematic of a larger problem: The school’s policy change does not represent a more Christian approach, but actually expresses the secular mindset in a Christian idiom.

 

The recent open letter to Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School is a model for responding graciously yet firmly to wrong-headed attempts to address Christianity and the LGBTQ issue. After the school announced in an email that its alumnae magazine would in future carry notices of same-sex unions, a group of alums gently skewered the false alternative of love or Christian teaching, thereby demolishing the school’s argument for this policy change.

False alternatives are standard fare in contemporary Christian approaches to political issues, where “love”—a code word for whatever the political piety du jour may be—is set in opposition to “dogma” or “doctrine”—code words for whatever piece of traditional Christian teaching is deemed to be inconsistent with said political piety. Therefore, the Georgetown Visitation incident is emblematic of a larger problem: The school’s policy change does not represent a more Christian approach, but actually expresses the secular mindset in a Christian idiom.

We can look at the pathologies of the contemporary secular mind through a number of lenses. To approach the matter from Philip Rieff’s perspective, we might characterize modern men and women as psychological selves for whom the good and the true is identical with whatever happens to make them psychologically happy at any particular moment. Or we could use Charles Taylor’s notion of expressive individualism, that the modern self is the person who expresses outwardly that which they feel inwardly. In this view, social ethics are shaped by recognizing as legitimate the outward performance of inward convictions. Or we could adopt Alasdair MacIntyre’s notion of emotivism, and see modern ethics as manifestations of emotional preferences. Bringing all three to bear upon the sexual revolution, it becomes clear that the LGBTQ moment is not merely a revolution in what sex means; it is a revolution in what it means to be human. And when we look at the Georgetown Visitation incident, it becomes clear that the secular mind as delineated by Rieff, Taylor, and MacIntyre is alive and well among those who profess to be Christians.

For many, gay marriage is a dead issue, as it has not brought in its wake the chaos some predicted. And it has slowly but surely become normalized. How it will affect freedom of speech and religion has yet to become clear, but it is no longer the pressing issue of the day. And therein lies the danger: We need to remember that for a Christian to recognize gay marriage as Christian in the manner of Georgetown Visitation is not simply to recognize a shift or expansion in the definition of marriage. It is far more significant for the Faith in at least three deeper ways.

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