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David Hegg: When world views collide

SCV Voices

Posted: August 14, 2010 6:10 p.m.
Updated: August 15, 2010 4:55 a.m.
 

Since the announcement of Judge Vaughn Walker’s ruling on Proposition 8, the media has been blanketed with commentary and insightful responses written by better men and women than me. The central thrust of the ruling, its legal and philosophical shortcomings and its possible consequences for our society don’t need to be rehashed here.

And despite my concern that the ruling is the fruit of a poisonous philosophical tree, I am even more interested in baring the roots of the tree and showing that, at the most basic level, we are experiencing a fundamental clash of world views.

The simplest way to define a world view is to answer the question, “What is the ultimate authority in my life?” Like the third-grader on the playground, when told by a peer that he has to stop throwing rocks, we all feel the pressure to ask, “Who says?”

Whenever two groups with opposing views passionately believe not only that they are right, but that they are clearly and unarguably right, it is no longer a conversation debating evidence or argument. It all boils down to a radically different conviction on where the ultimate basis for authoritative truth is to be found.

Our founding fathers believed democracy could only succeed if there were a moral foundation. They believed religion provided that foundation since, even in its pluralistic forms, religion taught that man was accountable to God, the ultimate lawgiver. In this theistic world view, political debate could proceed constructively even through the deep waters of disagreement since all parties had a common starting place. Their shared presupposition was that God made the rules, and His rules defined mankind’s rights.

Thomas Jefferson summed it up in the Declaration of Independence when he wrote that all are “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.” The rights of all are defined by their Creator.

This basic theistic world view, though found in many different religious models that themselves are often in great opposition, caused society to function under the shared belief that mankind was accountable to God in all things. This accountability acted as a constraint against the desire of some to take unfair and violent advantage of others. Judgment, found ultimately in God, was also a present deterrent as it flowed down through a series of laws based on the concept that the ultimate lawgiver was God Himself.

God’s rules defined mankind’s rights, and community laws fashioned from God’s laws kept those rights free from the tyranny of those who were driven to put personal desire above the best interests of the community. Accountability to God allowed for ordered society and the shared knowledge of right and wrong.

When Charles Darwin, through his theory of evolution, declared that he could explain all reality apart from the existence of God, the accountability model began to crumble. If God was no longer necessary as Creator, then He need no longer be feared as Judge, nor obeyed as Lawgiver. This gave rise to the humanistic worldview in which God was replaced as the ultimate authority. But the humanists have always had trouble finding something that could take His place.

What has ultimately happened is that the “rights” of the individual have become the ultimate authority. No longer do God’s rules define mankind’s rights. Now, mankind’s rights get to define the rules.

The argument over marriage pits those who believe our rights are defined by God’s rules against those who believe our rights ought to define the rules. Those who would define marriage to allow for something other than the union of one man and one woman have long ago cast aside any sense that we are accountable to an ultimate authority, a divine lawgiver.

Those in my field who argue from a supposedly biblical viewpoint in favor of homosexual marriage have so radically corrupted accepted laws of interpretation and scholarship that the Bible they espouse and the God they declare are sadly a corrupt and unrecognizable shadow of the originals.

And so, world views are colliding. I doubt that the framers of the Constitution ever considered that one day their writing would be construed to include homosexual marriage. But we should not be surprised that, in a pluralistic society, eventually world views will clash at their most basic and unalterable level.

How do we decide which world view is better for society? I propose that the answer will no longer be found in individual evidence and argument. It will be found in results. A study of history’s regimes will clearly show that where the theistic worldview has held sway, the evil that lies dormant in mankind has largely been held in check, allowing for an ordered and civilized society.

The same is not true for those countries where accountability to God has been cast aside.

When individual rights and power replace divine accountability, the most powerful will define the rights of the rest and tyranny will be the result.

    David Hegg is senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church and a Santa Clarita resident. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.

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