Saturday, November 21, 2009
I want to express agreement with Steve Shiffrin about one thing, while disagreeing about another. First the disagreement. Steve expresses doubt that it can be Christian to oppose the Democrats' health care bill. I don't agree with that. Reasonable people of goodwill can, consistently with Christian moral principles, support or oppose the Democrats' bill. The application of Christian principles by themselves will not resolve the question whether the Democrats' approach to health care is, all things considered, the wisest and best. Many factors bear on that question. A position one way or another will hinge on considerations going beyond the straightforward application of Christian moral principles. (This shouldn't be surprising, since it is usually the case when the issue is one of fulfilling a positive obligation, as opposed to honoring a strict negative norm.) Where I agree with Steve is in his willingness to say (or at least suggest) that an action or position is unChristian when he judges it so to be. Often, politeness, sentimentality, or a fear of coming across as uncharitable and even self-righteous prevents people from speaking with Steve's candor. Even bishops--who have a special obligation to make clear what is and isn't authentic Christian belief and teaching--often shrink from declaring acts and positions to be unChristian. Now, I am not saying that such declarations should be made rashly or wantonly. The contrary is true. The charge that an act or position is unChristian is a serious one (from a Christian perspective, at least), and should be made only where one has considered the question carefully, from all angles, and judged soberly that the act or position is indeed incompatible with Christian principles or Christian doctrine.