Angus Kennedy in Spiked:
At first sight, it might appear that society has taken a markedly positive moral turn over the past 20-or-so years. The example of the Conservative Party’s embrace of gay marriage alone shows how far we now are from the failure of Conservative prime minister John Major’s ‘back to basics’ campaign to restore traditional moral values in the early 1990s. Cultural and political trendsetters champion any number of apparently progressive moral campaigns: against female genital mutilation, child abuse, poverty, inequality, or any imaginable form of discrimination on the grounds of race, sex or disability. On the face of it, we seem to have the good fortune to be living in a new age of tolerance, born of a society confident and firm in its moral values. One of contemporary society’s most prominent features is the wide level of support for non-judgementalism; namely, the idea that we do not have the right as individuals to lay down the law as to how others should live their lives. This moral-sounding sentiment reaches right to the top of society. Earlier this year no less an eminence than UK Supreme Court judge Lord Wilson of Culworth declared that marriage was ‘an elastic concept’ (ie, as empty as a rubber band), that the nuclear family had been replaced by a ‘blended’ variety, and that the Christian teaching on the family has been ‘malign’. The one (ironic) judgement that today’s non-judgemental morality is happy to make is to judge the judgemental and castigate strict moral codes as malign and abusive.
This residuum of people who still cling to traditional ideas of morality and concepts like duty are routinely denigrated by the right-thinking as intolerant ‘bigots’ or dismissed as reactionary religious rednecks. Society’s apparent moral confidence is betrayed to a degree by its own level of intolerance towards the supposedly morally intolerant and overly judgemental. Would there be a need for today’s moral crusades against child abuse or FGM to be quite so shrill and knee-jerk were they reflective of a society genuinely confident and secure in what is right and what is wrong? A morally confident society might not need to be on such a high-state of moral alert against the dangers supposedly posed to the social fabric by cases such as the black Christian couple in Derby whom Derby Council denied the right to be foster carers because of their belief that homosexuality is a sin.