The advocates of the new morality mistakenly think modern man has outgrown moral injunctions
Between the old and the new morality the most striking difference is the novel teaching that no act, whether murder, incest, adultery, denial of the faith, or any other, is always wrong. In his Christian Morals Today, Bishop John A. T. Robinson says, “There is not a whole list of things which are ‘sins’ per se” (p. 16). Any action can be an expression of agape (love) in the right situation.
Bishop Robinson admits, however, that he cannot conceive of situations in which rape and cruelty to children would be expressions of love. This is clearly a serious defect in a morality built on the principle that no act is always wrong. Yet Robinson clings to his new morality and papers over the defect by saying that Christians are persistently unable to conceive of situations in which rape and cruelty to children would be right and that “they [rape and cruelty] are so persistently wrong for that reason” (p. 16; italics his). If Christians could conceive of situations in which such acts would be right, then—and there—they would be right. This is the novel and distinguishing characteristic of the new morality: any conceivable act is morally right if the situation is “right.” It is also the most shocking and, as we shall see, the most deceptive characteristic of the new morality.
This is the version of Christian ethics currently caught by Bishop Robinson, Douglas Rhymes, Joseph Fletcher, and others. In a recent youth conference at Elmhurst College, Professor Fletcher told a group of young people, most of high school age, that neither rape, nor incest, nor any other sexual act, nor indeed the denial of one’s Lord or the violation of the First Commandment ...1
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