One of the most cherished beliefs of conservatives is that morals are absolute. If an act such as abortion is wrong, they believe, it is wrong for all time; there are no exceptions. Usually, this absolutism arises from the belief that the law of God cannot be broken under any circumstances.
Yet, not even the Bible considers an act to be wrong in and of itself -- the scriptures are loaded with exceptions and qualifications to the law. To those who believe that the only exceptions to the law should be those that the Judeo-Christian God gives us, then there are three places to find those exceptions: the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the writings of Christian leaders in the 2,000 years since.…show more content… Conservatives may object that the power actually belongs to God, and the church leadership is simply transmitting the information. But history clearly refutes this idea. African slavery in America received the full blessing of four centuries of popes. Considering the social and scientific disasters that the Church hierarchy (of all denominations) have been guilty of promoting, from the burning of witches to the enslavement of innocents, no thinking person could ever place blind faith in the fallible leadership of men.
That's just a practical observation; let's turn to a more theoretical treatment of moral absolutism. The problem with this theory is that not even the Bible considers an act to be wrong in and of itself. God gave Israel the Ten Commandments forbidding certain acts, but then he also ordered Israel to carry out those very acts against her enemies. This sort of moral relativism is apparent in Christian history as well. Slavery and war were not condemned as evil in and of themselves; Christian scholars and popes wrote entire libraries on what constituted "just and unjust slavery" and "just and unjust war." They drew all the exceptions permissible under God for these atrocities, which they viewed as correct in certain circumstances. They also did this with more positive behaviors, such as the only correct occasions to have sex, which the Church