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By Dr. Frederick Liewehr

10/9/2013 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (

How did we get to this point?

Ultimately then, in order to be a progressive one must be an atheist. Without a belief in a moral code that is of divine origin, the progressive cannot logically justify his belief in "fairness", "human rights", or any of the other ideals he claims to espouse. Morality becomes simply a matter of opinion, and all opinions are equally valid. However, that position is untenable because he might get his nose punched, so he must substitute coercion, enforcement of his arbitrary new code, in order that people with varying opinions obey his precepts and become subordinate to his will.  He must be in favor of hate speech laws, censorship of writing and the Internet, the "fairness" doctrine, marginalization of those who do not share progressive views, mandatory "sensitivity training", and so forth. Does this sound familiar?


By Dr. Frederick Liewehr

Catholic Online (

10/9/2013 (2 years ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: transactional analysis, progressivism, relativism, morality, culture war, Dr. Frederick Liewehr

RICHMOND,VA (Catholic Online) - During the past fifty or so years we have seen an increasing secularization of our society, and that of the entire West, which has dramatically escalated during the Obama administration. We are seeing basic tenets of not just Christian faith, but of reality itself, being questioned, such as how many "genders" are there, and whether they may be altered.  The idea of the institution of marriage between a man and a woman being the optimum arrangement for a healthy society built on the nuclear family is being actively condemned and indeed voicing that opinion now comes under the 1984ish label of "hate speech" which is punishable by law.

How did we get to this point? The answer in part is in the 1967 book by Thomas Harris, MD entitled, "I'm OK, You're OK." The book is a pop psychological explanation of Transactional Analysis, and posits that there are three mental states between which a person can switch - child, parent, and adult. The child is mostly an emotional state, with memories of reactions to events not well understood when one was young, which can affect later thinking, such as an irrational fear of dogs, or a constructive fear of putting one's hand on a red hot stove burner. The parent state is thinking dominated by bits of "tape recordings" of admonitions and rules that the child learned. The adult, and supposedly desirable state, results from testing of the parental rules and childhood emotions to form your own opinions and code of conduct.

The problem with this thinking is that it considers the parental state as oppressive and arbitrary. Adults are urged to go beyond what are considered "simplistic" mores and find their own solutions. Instead of the child thinking, "I'm not OK, but you are OK" and modeling his behavior accordingly, he is encouraged to think, "I'm OK, and you're OK", and substitute his own ideas for those of his parents, society, or the Church. This of course is only possible if one believes in moral relativism, where what I believe and what you believe are equally valid.

The concept of relativism has at least two problems. First, one group of "progressives" thinks that two men should be "married" and allowed to adopt children, and the result will be normal, well-adjusted children. Traditional Christians on the other hand think that marriage between two men is absurd and would lack the complementarity of a husband-wife relationship along with the maternal instincts of the mother, the role modeling that heterosexual parents provide, etc., the result of which would be children who are terribly confused and who have a much higher likelihood of having future problems such as emotional illness, with greater incidence of substance abuse and suicide, among other issues. For relativism to be valid, one would have to contend that the entire matter makes no difference one way or the other. From the passion exhibited on both sides of the argument that is obviously not the case.

The other problem is that the contention itself is not logically valid.  Progressives and traditional Christians cannot hold opposing views and both be right, anymore that Christians and Muslims or Buddhists can have different ideas of God and both be correct. It is a logical impossibility.

The contention of the relativists is that there is no absolute standard of right and wrong, and that the standard society uses is "evolving". The Christian contention is that there is in fact an absolute standard and it is written by God on our hearts. The relativists often point to the horrible torture and murders that have occurred and continue to occur and say that clearly there is no moral standard by which all societies operate. Upon closer examination, however, this is easily shown not to be true.

Even in societies that subscribed to cannibalism, the act was committed against enemies, and after lengthy rituals. They did not simply roast one of their children for dinner. Similarly when we see the horrific YouTube videos of some Muslim "rebel" eating the heart of some poor victim, it is someone who he has dehumanized through his Islamic beliefs, not his best friend. Murder is always considered wrong, when it is understood to be murder. What societies do is to delude themselves that what they are doing is not murder, which is what we in our abortion-centric society have done. We are not killing babies; we are promoting "women's health".

A better way to see the universality of absolute standards, which are collectively called "Natural Law", is not to look at someone's actions, but rather to look at their reactions. As a simple experiment, when a relativist tells you that there is no absolute standard of morality, and such things are simply "potato - potahto" issues, punch him in the nose. When he recovers, he will ask why you did that to him, and tell you that it was wrong and unfair. Why would that be so, if there is no absolute standard? What does "unfair" mean? Or, to use the favorite word of the pro-aborts, punching him in the nose was simply your "choice". What's the big deal?

Obviously this hyperbolic example is not something to be tried at home, as the TV ads say, but the point is obvious. We all know that to punch someone in the nose for no reason is wrong. Again, there is no culture where you can walk up to someone and punch him in the nose and not expect a strong protest at minimum, and probably worse. Therefore, there is a moral law. So where did it come from?

Laws do not magically appear on the books. Even in the only one case that I can think of where that occurred, the tablets given to Moses on Mt. Sinai, those Commandments had a law Prescriber - God. The moral law is God's standard that is written on our hearts, because we are made in His image. As St. Paul says in Romans 2: 14ff, "For when the Gentiles who do not have the law by nature observe the prescriptions of the law, they are a law for themselves even though they do not have the law. They show that the demands of the law are written in their hearts."

Relativism, however, is a weak man's position. Progressives always use "tolerance" to introduce their wrong thinking. Initially, they claim that there is no absolute morality, and that their ideas are as valid as those that have been held for millennia and that are God-given. Eventually, however, as acceptance increases (and more rapidly if they are able to secure the coercive power of the government) they move on to substituting their own supposed "moral code", and enforcing it. At this point "right", such as a woman's "right" to an abortion and homosexuals' "right" to marry suddenly spring forth from nowhere. These newly-discovered rights are based on some notion of "fairness". If you do not agree with their new "moral code", then you are a "hater". Thus in some perverse logical twist Christians who follow the precepts of a loving God who gave us rules in order that we might flourish as His people are suddenly transformed into demons, at least in the eyes of the Left.

Relativists clearly have a notion of right and wrong. Ask them about the racism and genocide of a Hitler or other criminal despot, and they will rail against it. They believe firmly that this sort of behavior should not be allowed, and their promotion of hate speech legislation and their constant overreaction to innocent statements shows that they believe strongly in some standards. The problem is that they have no basis for their standards. They, like all of us, have the natural law written on their hearts, but they can choose to ignore it and substitute their own "morality". So, how does one decide which laws are part of the Natural Law and which are not? Ultimately, one has two sources of information as to which position to believe.

The first source is history and culture. The idea of homosexual marriage, for example, has never existed anywhere, and didn't exist contemporaneously prior to this new "revelation" of the progressives. Marriage has always been understood as being between a man and a woman, and for the purpose of having a family and raising children. Homosexuality has always existed, but the idea of a homosexual couple being "married" is a new aberration.

The other source, of course, is the Bible. We understand the Bible as the inspired Word of God, and it is clear that marriage is a sacred covenant between and man and a woman. A question to ask those who would say that they are atheists and do not believe in God or the Bible is, "OK, you want to replace religious and cultural norms that have existed for thousands of years. What do you want to replace them with? Your opinion? Why would that be more valid?"

Ultimately then, in order to be a progressive one must be an atheist. Without a belief in a moral code that is of divine origin, the progressive cannot logically justify his belief in "fairness", "human rights", or any of the other ideals he claims to espouse. Morality becomes simply a matter of opinion, and all opinions are equally valid. However, that position is untenable because he might get his nose punched, so he must substitute coercion, enforcement of his arbitrary new code, in order that people with varying opinions obey his precepts and become subordinate to his will.  He must be in favor of hate speech laws, censorship of writing and the Internet, the "fairness" doctrine, marginalization of those who do not share progressive views, mandatory "sensitivity training", and so forth. Does this sound familiar?


Dr. Frederick Liewehr is an endodontist who teaches and works in private practice. He converted from Protestantism to Catholicism in 1983, having been drawn ineluctably to Christ's Church by the light of Truth. He is a member of St. Benedict parish in Richmond, a Fourth Degree Knight of Columbus and a Cooperator of Opus Dei. 


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