Don’t Miss the Worldview
Dorothy Sayers’ prophetic speech “Creed or Chaos” offers a timely reminder. Sayers gave her to talk to a group in England, warning them of Hitler’s campaign and how it might, and ultimately and tragically did, affect them all. Surprisingly, Sayers didn’t focus on the wrongness of what Hitler was doing, but the rightness of it all in Hitler’s own eyes. Hitler was doing what he believed was good and noble and true, she argued.
The issue at hand was not an agreed upon moral law Hitler decided to violate. Sayers explained Hitler was not being naughty. He was acting upon the way he believed the world should be. He believed in what he was doing. For him, his campaign was not a necessary evil, but a path of virtue. Here’s an excerpt:
“The people who say that this is a war of economics or of power-politics are only dabbling about on the surface of things. Even those who say it is a war to preserve freedom and justice and faith have gone only half-way to the truth. The real question is what economics and politics are to be used for; whether freedom and justice and faith have any right to be considered at all; at bottom it is a violent and irreconcilable quarrel about the nature of God and the nature of man and the ultimate nature of the universe; it is a war of dogma.”
In a time of heated political debate on important issues, we should take Sayers’ speech to heart. It may help us better understand what’s taking place. Our deeply held beliefs drive our values, our policy concerns, and our political alignment. It’s not always the case that the other person on the other side of the aisle and the other side of the issues believes they are acting immorally. They are not simply saying, “I know it’s wrong and I don’t care.” No, they believe their convictions are beautiful.
For example, on the issue of abortion, have you considered why some seem so deeply and morally offended by the recent Supreme Court decision? I watched a bit of a late-night talk show last night where the host began by describing how outraged and offended he was at the recent Supreme Court decision. It was clear he found their decision to be morally repugnant.
This is not an issue that an agreed upon wrong has been righted, and he just would prefer for it to be left wrong. He believes a woman’s autonomy to make decisions regarding her body and what is going in her body is a very high value. And he doesn’t believe the body of the growing baby is yet a human with rights. So, it follows, the right of the human involved, the mother, is of greater significance than the existence of what some might have described as merely a “clump of cells.”
I believe he is wrong. To paraphrase an article I read a few years back, I believe a momentary push by a mother, and a pull by a doctor, does not a constitute a miracle that turns a “clump of cells” magically into a human being in the open air of the operating room. The matter of geography (in or outside the womb) doesn’t determine human status any more than the matter of the days of the pregnancy. I believe the doctrine of humanity as created in God’s image has nothing to do with what a human has, or can do, but with what a human is.
These are worldview conflicts, make no doubt. But for many, perhaps most, this isn’t fundamentally a question of whether or not we should violate what is good, true, and right. It is a very profound disagreement about what those things are. For the Christian, this is determined by what God has revealed about the world and the people He has made to live in it. Sayers taught us to understand this is the difference between creed or chaos.
While this is certainly no time to retreat from our convictions, we should stop to recognize what is going on beneath the conversations and debates. It’s not an issue of people transgressing an agreed upon moral law. At bottom, it’s the difference between two different creeds, two different ways of seeing the world, and two different ways of answering the question, “What does it mean to be human?”.