"The essence of the human is not the body, but the soul. It is the soul alone that God made in his own image and the soul that he loves....For the sake of the soul...the Son of God came into the world...." (Incomplete Work on Matthew, Homily 25, Ancient Christian Devotional, Oden and Crosby, p. 153) In Biblical thought, the body is inert matter organized and vitalized by the soul. A human life is a soul which informs inert matter, thus a body without a soul is no more than a disorganized mass of cells that would quickly deconstruct, said Pastor Louis Pernot in a sermon delivered at the Temple de l'Etoile in Paris. ("Body, Mind, and Soul," Nov. 28, 2010)
The noblest part of the soul is spirit (the heart). The two essential properties of spirit that distinguish it from matter are intellect and willâ€”---the capacity for knowledge and moral choice.
Spirit can will and think and is freely responsible for what it thinks, wills, and does.
Spirit is immortal, self-aware and free, matter is not. In Christian thought, a person is a spirit and personality is the total individuality of the spirit. Without spirit there is no person.
Pastor Pernot notes that the key to individual liberty in the temporal sphere is man's spiritual liberty contrasted against a genetically programmed animal-like orientation. Animals do not have spirits, which are linked to intelligence, imagination, sensitivity, self-consciousness, reflection and the capacity for truth and moral goodness.
In Biblical thought, because spirit is free of matter it allows man to spiritually transcend the natural or material dimension in order to access the supernatural dimension, thereby allowing man to enter into a personal relationship with the Spirit of God. Through this relationship, the spirit is quickened and conscience is cleansed over time, thus enabling man to more perfectly orient the manner of his existence in this world in preparation for eternity.
A person is a spirit and spirit is uniquely free because only spirit can transcend matter to access the supernatural dimension as Paul affirms:
"Now the Lord is Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom" (2 Cor. 3:17)
To live in relationship with the Spirit of God is to live spiritually, and to live spiritually is to live morally, to have a heart for the ideals of truth and goodness.
When a majority of a civilization's people live spiritually, the result will be a good society properly oriented toward life, family, decency, and justice. A good society makes it easy to be good. Correlatively, a good society is one that makes it easy to be free. To be free, and to live freely, is to live spiritually, because only spirit is freeâ€”matter is not.
Though moral practice has always been difficult for fallen humanity, a good society keeps the lighthouse of moral principles brightly shining, so no matter how stormy the sea of individual moral practice became, the lighthouse was always there to show the way.
The most radical threat to living morally today is the loss of moral principles.
Thus when the majority of a society's people turn away from God they fall into spiritual darkness, hence the light is gone. Morality becomes nothing more than a fog of feelings, of disordered passions and sexual perversions, of self-centered desires and cold-blooded envy.
Concerning spiritually dark individuals, G.K. Chesterton said,
"Morality is always dreadfully complicated to a man who has lost all his principles."
Principles mean unchanging truth, moral absolutes, the "thou shall and shall nots" and "He made them male and female." These are the unchanging foundations beneath the fallen nature of man--the tumultuous winds of change---of feelings, passions, and desires.
A spiritually dark society, such as America is today, denies moral absolutes, unchanging truth and even "He made them male and female."
Philosophically, the denial of moral absolutes and unchanging truth is called moral relativism. In his "A Refutation of Moral Relativism," Peter Kreeft, Ph.D., professor of philosophy at Boston College and at the King's College (Empire State Building), warns us that:
"(the) issue of moral relativism is merely the single most important issue of our age, for no society in all of human history has ever survived without rejecting the philosophy that I am about to refute. There has never been a society of relativists. Therefore, our society will do one of three things: either disprove one of the most universally established laws of all history; or repent of its relativism and survive; or persist in its relativism and perish."
( http://www.peterkreeft.com )
C.S.Lewis defines moral relativism as subjectivism and in "The Poison of Subjectivism," warns that relativism,
"...will certainly end our species and damn our souls."
As a Christian, Lewis agrees with the fundamental teaching of his savior, Jesus Christ, as well as the Old Testament prophets that salvation presupposes,
"...repentance, and repentance presupposes an objectively real moral law. Moral relativism eliminates that law, thus trivializes repentance, thus imperils salvation." (Kreeft)
Lewis sees farther than most, thus he speaks of the end of our species rather than the end of Western civiliation. This is because Lewis saw that the entire human species is becoming increasingly Westernized, therefore relativized. The poison in other words, was concocted right in the heart of Christendom during the time of the Enlightenment and today, as Lewis said in his novel, "That Hideous Strength" it has been spewed over the entire planet. A great black wing covers all of Telus, said Lewis through his character Ransom.
The irony said Kreeft, is that America is both the primary source of relativism and by extension pornography, sexual perversions, sex-slavery, drugs, violence, and death (i.e., abortion, euthanasia) in the world today but at the same time is also the world's most religious nation.
If America is the world's most religious nation, and opposition to relativism is the duty of the Church, how do we make sense of the fact that America is the primary source of relativism? Kreeft writes:
"...according to the most recent polls, Catholics are as relativistic, both in behavior and in belief, as non-Catholics. Sixty-two percent of Evangelicals say they disbelieve in any absolute or unchanging truths, and American Jews are significantly more relativistic and more secular than Gentiles."
Only a remnant of Orthodox Jews, Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholics and Evangelicals seem to be resisting the culture,
"...but not by converting it, but by withdrawing from it." (ibid)
As a consequence, our age is an eerie time in which the things that everyone really knows to be true, good, decent, and right, are treated as unheard of, as intolerant, hateful, bigotted, racist, and homophobic.
In "What We Can't Not Know," a penetrating examination of the lost world of unchanging truths, moral absolutes and common truths that we all really know about right and wrong, author J. Budzisewski, professor of government and philosophy at the University of Texas, writes that the spiritual darkness of our society requires lots of lies:
"...the public relations of moral wrong require lies, and a lot of them...There are the lies about whether infidelity and promiscuity really hurt anyone. There are the lies about whether the living child is really alive, or really a child. Next come lies about the meaning of fairness, the nature of promises, and what the "committed gay relationship" is really like. Amid all of them is the lie about how hard it is to know what to do." (p. 195)
In other words, is a female always a female or is she also a she-male? If so, then isn't the word female redundant, passe? Conversely, is a male always a male or is he also a drag queen, she-male, or boi? And what is the meaning of "up"? Does it always mean above or does it sometimes mean below, sidewise, or aslant? And what about your property? You say it is yours, but that is just your own personal opinion. In my opinion what you call your property is really "our" property and I have the right to a fair share of it. And what about those children you have? In your opinion they should be raised as males and females. But that is just your own opinion, an unfair, bigotted, homophobic, hateful opinion at that. Those children are not yours. They belong to the State, and it is the opinion of the State that they have rights. The right to choose their own "gender" or "non-gender," the right to fornicate, the right to abortion, the right to their own opinions, and the right to call the police if parents look at them the wrong way.
And finally, what is a soul? Today it is the scientifically informed opinion of society at large that souls, spirits, and God no longer exist. Only the scientifically ignorant believe in them, but that is just their stupid opinion.
America is no longer a spiritually free nation because America is in bondage to sin, most particularly lies, said Budzisewski. There are seven degrees of descent on the downward staircase of honesty, said Budziseski:
1. Sin: The greater our trespasses, the more we have to lie about.
2. Self-Protection: Lies need bodyguards. Each new lie needs its own protecting ring. Pretty soon the liar is smothered in layers of mendacity, as numerous as onion shells, as thick as flannel blankets.
3. Habituation: We make habits of everything. After you have lied awhile for need, you begin to lie without need. It becomes second nature.
4. Rationalization: As your grasp on truth weakens, you come to blame its weakness on truth itself. Everything is shades of gray anyway, how silly to believe in absolutes. Truth is what we let each other get away with, that's all.
5. Technique: Lying becomes a craft. You discover that a Big Lie repeated over and over works even better than a small one. Since nobody can believe that you would tell such a whopper, you are motivated to make every lie a Big Lie.
6. Duty Turns Upside-Down: The moment lying is publicly accepted instead of condemned, it has to be required. If lying is just another way of winning, then refusing to lie for the cause, for your side, your political party, or the company means you are not doing your job. (pp. 195-197)
A regime of lies. This is what America is quickly becoming because it is what Americans themselves are becoming. The problem is not just Obama and our politicians, for they came from us. We elected them. It is not just liberals, gays, and abortionists. It is that the majority of us have succumbed to moral relativism, both personally and publicly. We are not a people who want to hear truth because we have become comfortable with lies of every size.
Spirit is immortal, self-aware and free, matter is not. A people who have fallen out of relationship with the Spirit of God are spiritually dead. Their souls are materialized. They are less than animals. Paul speaks of them as beasts. They are no longer free but in bondage to sin.
Lewis was right when he said moral relativism will certainly end our species and damn our souls. Yet at least for a while longer it still lies within our power to repent and turn back to our Creator. And so Budzisewski asks:
"Do we dare at last yield ourselves to Truth, to be scraped, scoured and made honest until we can give back His light?" (p. 197)