Dr. Robert George has written a book entitled, The Clash of Orthodoxies. His book is about the clash of two world views: the Secularist and the Judeo-Christian views. The clash is evident in so many areas, from education to the environment to how we define sexuality. Understanding the differences between these two views helps us understand why there is so much controversy over the subjects of abortion, euthanasia, marriage and many others. These world views are important because these different perspectives translate into different public policies, depending on who’s in power.
One very important difference between the two views is that the Judeo-Christian view believes the basis for its beliefs and moral judgments come from the Bible. This view holds that there are absolute, universal truths, such as life is sacred and therefore must be respected in all stages. The secularist does not see life as sacred, but rather as utilitarian, and therefore does not see the need for life to be protected or respected in all stages. This is why the secularist strongly believes in abortion and euthanasia. Secularists generally claim to not believe in absolute moral judgments, yet they absolutely believe in a woman’s right to abortion and the right to end your life.
Between these two views, the debate about life is not really about when it begins; any standard human-embryology textbook clearly defines life as beginning at conception. The debate is more accurately about when life has value and when it ceases to have value. From the Judeo-Christian view, we view all the stages of life as equally important. An embryo, a fetus, an infant, a toddler, an adolescent, a young adult, a middle-aged adult, an adult and an older, comatose adult all have something in common. Through all those stages it is the same person, from embryo to older adult. Even though the fetus at the beginning and the comatose person at the end of life are fully dependent on others, they are no less valuable, precisely because there is a person there.
Much of the same differences come into view when we talk about sexuality. Secularists believe that marriage is a social and legal convention that produces none other than an emotional and legal bond between two persons. Secularists define good, decent and acceptable sex as whether or not it is consensual and so long as there is no coercion or deception involved. This is the reason that secularists can freely distribute contraceptives to school-age children with no reservation.
From a Judeo-Christian view, sex is part of a bigger picture and should not be separated—and that larger picture is marriage. From this view, marriage is not only a legal and emotional bond but also as a biological and spiritual union. After all, a man and a woman can reproduce through the marriage act, which is a single act performed by two people. Thus, showing…“a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh” (Gen 2:24). This union is more than a metaphor of one flesh; it is a true union. The Judeo-Christian view believes that when sex is sought purely for pleasure or emotional closeness, what really happens is disintegration of the bond between the two participating persons.
Perhaps the disagreement about how both worldviews see the world can best be seen in their view of human choice. Secularists believe that humans have little choice in life. They see free choice as an illusion. So it is not hard to see how they view criminals and the problem of poverty for example. They see people as not responsible for their actions because of external or internal pressure. The Judeo-Christian view comes straight from the Bible and informs us that God has given to each of us a free will, and God will hold us responsible for our choices. [i]