Christians and secular leftists disagree about a lot of things. Religious faith, or the lack thereof, is a strong predictor of how someone will feel about issues like sexuality, gender, marriage, assisted suicide, and abortion.
Have you ever thought about why we disagree about so much?
In order to understand our disagreements, I think it’s helpful to first acknowledge where we agree. We all want people to be happy. Really. There might be individuals we don’t like and grudges we carry personally, but in general, we want other people to be happy and we want to be happy ourselves.
That’s a great start.
Our differences, however, lie in the fact that we have very different ideas about what will make people happy and we disagree about what makes people happy because we have different views about the nature of our existence.
Secularists believe the human existence is random and purposeless. We were not created by anyone so we are not accountable to anyone; we appeared out of nothing and will return to nothing. Because there is no creator, there is no moral law and as a result, the best we can hope for out of life is to simply be happy, which we achieve by doing the things we believe will make us happy.
Changing your gender will make you happy? Great. Want an abortion to fulfill your life plan and find happiness? Outstanding. Want to marry someone or many people of the same gender, multiple genders, or no gender at all? Who am I to judge?
Christians share the hope that individuals will find happiness, but believe happiness comes in a very different way.
Christians believe the key to joy, which is better than happiness, is not found by acting on our desires but by fulfilling the purpose for which we were created. Christians also believe that each person has been infected by sin which causes us to desire things that will not only fail to bring happiness but actually lead to misery. For Christians, happiness is not the goal but a byproduct of fulfilling our created purpose which often requires us to surrender our desires for our own good.
If there is no moral law, family structure and sexual behavior is merely a matter of preference. If we have not been created with a specific purpose, changing your gender is no more significant than changing your shirt. Do what makes you happy.
But if there is a creator and if our creator has created us so that our mind, soul, and body are all distinct yet connected and flourish only to the extent they fulfill the purpose for which they were created, then good intentions are not enough to find happiness.
A car may wish to run on water in order to save the planet but will find mobility frustrating because that was not how it was made.
But who is right about the nature of our existence?
If the secularist is right, you would expect those who indulge their desires and impulses most to be the most fulfilled.
If the Christians are correct, the key to happiness is found, in part, in our ability to deny ourselves and live for someone greater. As Jesus said, “whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, but whoever will lose his life for my sake will find it.”
If we want, we can continue arguing about who is smarter or who has better intentions. But it may be more helpful to recognize the things we actually agree on and then have a long conversation about what actually makes people happy. After all, there’s where many of our political quarrels are coming from anyway.