The media hates us
Ever since Jacob Rees-Mogg became a prominent figure in British politics, the media has done all they could to pander to the popular outrage against his views. Numerous articles and opinion pieces have sprung up, both from the Guardian and the Telegraph – both attacking him (always in the case of the Guardian, usually in the case of the Telegraph). Whilst left-wing atheist journalists tried to back up their arguments using quotes from the Bible without the most basic understanding of Christian theology, I never once saw an actual defence of the opinions held by Jacob Rees-Mogg; at best, journalists defending him resorted to saying he has a right to his own opinion, or that he is not planning to enforce them. However, what is actually wrong with JRM’s views? To me, they seem completely sensible.
I admit, this article is a bit late in writing; the media storm over JRM is mostly over. The reason writing this came into my mind is that recently while attending a local debate on whether Mrs May should resign, it was said that Mr Rees-Mogg is a worse alternative because he “opposes abortion and gay marriage”. I raised my hand, and asked what’s wrong with that – initially, hecklers responded to me by shouting to ignore me, but the gentleman debating eventually politely responded that in a democracy the leader should represent the views of the population, which is fair enough.
The objection I have is that there is a visible attitude to outright ignore and dismiss Jacob Rees-Mogg’s views as ridiculous, indefensible, or stuck in the past. That is simply not the case.
Religion and politics
The first, most fundamental objection raised against JRM is usually the fact his religion influences his politics. Unlike Trudeau, who claims to be Catholic and yet supports abortion (the public support of which the Catholic Church punishes with excommunication), JRM dares to deem inappropriate in politics that same which he deems inappropriate in his private life. I see no good reason to separate religion from politics; indeed, the only consistent way to do politics is in line with one’s religion. If one holds, for religious reasons, the opinion that abortion is murder, why should one retreat that opinion when it comes to politics? It is only consistent that one’s moral judgments carry onto their politics. It is only thanks to our personal moral judgments that we outlaw, for example, paedophilia, so why are personal moral judgments rejected as soon as they are grounded in religion?
The first justification for it may be that religion is not a reliable guide for moral judgments, however, majority of the Earth’s population, as well as the writings of some of the best philosophers who have ever lived would dispute that – unless one is willing to dismiss Aquinas, Avicenna, Duns Scotus, Descartes, and Locke as incapable of supporting their opinions, they cannot be willing to dismiss religion as a basis for ethics.
Another justification may be that, since there exists a disparity of opinion concerning religion, one should approach politics from a neutral ground, one of agnosticism. That, however, is inconsistent; why should one be neutral about the premise of religion alone if there also exists a disparity of opinion concerning other premises? A Labour and a Conservative MP would disagree as to whether privatised industry runs less or more efficiently than a nationalised one, therefore, should all politicians not let their opinion of privatisation influence their political judgment? No; it is their own, justified opinion, which bears consequences on their favoured economic policy. In much the same way, religion is one’s own, justified opinion, which bears consequences on one’s favoured social policy, such as abortion or gay marriage.
Indeed, often when atheists support abortion, they are letting their religion – atheism – get in the way of their politics, and as a consequence, their moral judgment. It is only because they reject the idea of a God who loves the baby within the womb as much as the baby born that they support abortion, and it is their religious opinion. They are hypocrites to call out JRM for letting religion into his politics – they do exactly the same.
Very well, even if we accept that religion has a place in politics as does every substantiated premise, some may say that it does not follow from any religion that abortion or gay marriage should be outlawed. Let me make a case against that.
Abortion, according to those who oppose it, is the murder of an innocent, defenceless human being. In saying it is murder, one should address what consists of murder from an ethical point of view – I say, the killing of a non-consenting human, and it is never justifiable.
What abortion advocates contest is the baby’s humanity. However, what determines an entity is its essence, and one will find that the baby shares its essence with the man; both have a God-given human soul given to us at conception since it is then that the essence of the baby becomes as that of a man. That is the Christian view.Some abortion advocates may say that the baby cannot reason, and so it is not human; they equate human essence with rationality, much like Aristotle. However, in saying that, one also advocates for the killing of the severely mentally ill, or brain-damaged, since they cannot reason either – does that make them any less human? Indeed, any justification for abortion results in allowing for the killing of either disabled or unconscious people.
Some abortion advocates may say that the baby cannot reason, and so it is not human; they equate human essence with rationality, much like Aristotle. However, in saying that, one also advocates for the killing of the severely mentally ill, or brain-damaged, since they cannot reason either – does that make them any less human? Indeed, any justification for abortion results in allowing for the killing of either disabled or unconscious people.
There exists also a paradox of the heap as to when rationality develops; we cannot know it exactly. A second one or the other way should not be able to determine whether someone can be legally murdered or not. A few months ago a baby was born at 23 weeks’ pregnancy at a London hospital; below the current time limit for abortion in the UK. The only objective point at which to stop abortion is at conception, or not at all, and as such legalise murder; indeed, the British Medical Journal recently called for the legalisation of after-birth abortion.
If that is not convincing, but merely morally ambiguous, one should ask themselves the question – if there exists a chance (even a small one) that abortion is murder, should we allow for 190 406 abortions in the United Kingdom alone, with there being a chance that each one of them is murder, or stop it until we have more conclusive ethical enquiry?
Concerning gay ‘marriage’, the first time we see the word ‘marriage’ appear is in the Old Testament. It is a tradition with Judeo-Christian roots, and in all of post-Roman European history has it been so – it is rooted in and formed by the Christian Sacrament of Marriage, a direct continuation of the Jewish marriage. At no point in history has a secular institution of marriage been created; yes, civil marriage exists, but that is merely a legal extension of the religious sacrament, not a completely new institution – its entire legitimacy derives from the sacrament.
The name ‘marriage’, denoting a Holy Sacrament, over 3000 years old, has always been used to mean and convey and use the authority of that – the Sacrament. By using it as a perversion of it, by allowing a union that is not in accordance with religious law to use this name, one is spitting in the face of this Sacrament, but also the institution which upholds the family. It is from marriage that families form, and families are the single most important institution in society; it is the degradation of marriage that’s causing increasing divorce rates, fewer children, and abusive families – people do not treat their marriage with sanctity, but as something that can be embraced and thrown away at one’s fancy.
For the sake of the sanctity of marriage, and its religious roots, it should not be tampered with by the state; indeed, ideally, state marriage would be abolished altogether, and only legitimate religious temples would be allowed to marry people.
I do not mind (and nor does JRM, I believe) gay people having the liberty to live together and do whatever they like with each other. We do not oppose them getting involved in civil partnerships, or secular unions – all we do not want is for the sanctity of a Sacrament that we believe in to be spat at.
To conclude, there’s nothing wrong with what Jacob Rees-Mogg believes in. It is perfectly justifiable, as are many other political opinions, and unless one wishes to live in a left-wing echo chamber, one should learn to tolerate the views of the conservative parts of one’s society, as opposed to heckling at them.