Like, I suspect, a lot of people, I've was astounded by Senator McCain's selection of Sarah Palin, a wildly unqualified running mate, and even more so, by the Religious Right's lionizing of Palin's unwed daughter's teenage pregnancy as a moral virtue, a heroic "pro-life" act.
It was not too long ago that the Religious Right treated unwed teenage pregnancy as a personal moral failing on a personal level, and as sign of rampant moral decay on the national level. The turnaround is stunning.
The Religious Right has made, in recent years, a similar turnaround on divorce and remarriage.
A decade ago, the Religious Right was lamenting the destruction of marriage by remarkably high and unprecedented levels of living together outside of wedlock, children born outside of wedlock, divorce and remarriage after divorce.
No longer. You hardly hear a peep out of the leaders of the Religious Right on the destruction of marriage in our culture any more.
Instead, what we hear these days is that children need a "mommy and a daddy", and the devil be damned who the "mommy and daddy" might be. At times, the rhetoric of the Religious Right on the virtues of "mommy and daddy" parenting rises to the point where it seems like living and raising children outside of wedlock is a moral virtue, and remarriage after divorce, once denounced as adultery, is a moral victory.
How, I wonder, did the Religious Right fall to such a low point? How is it that the moral compass of self-described guardians of traditional Christian values go so far off kilter?
As I think about it, I do not think that the Religious Right fell prey to the moral relativism which they denounce as Satan's tool. Instead, I think that the Religious Right fell prey to moral absolutism, that the moral downfall of the Religious Right is a direct and inevitable consequence of the morally extreme absolutism of their opposition to abortion in all cases and to same-sex relationships and same-sex parenting.
In doing so -- by putting all their eggs in one basket, so to speak -- the Religious right lost sight of a valuable insights: that intact, two-parent families are best for children and for the foundation of a healthy society.
The evidence that this insight is correct is strong, almost to the point of being irrefutable. Children with two parents in an intact, long-term relationship, whether of the same sex or the opposite sex, are vastly better off than children with a single parent or multiple parents in so-called "blended" families.
Let me say that again. By every measure social scientists have devised to date, children raised by two parents in an intact, long-term relationship, whether of the same sex or the opposite sex, grow up physically healthier, psychologically healthier, and better adjusted to school and life, on average, than children raised by a single parent, by divorced parents living apart, or a parent and a stepparent in a "blended" family.
The Religious Right has reached the point where, trapped in their own moral absolutism on two issues, has become a willing partner in the destruction of the moral compass that religious institutions in our country used to provide in our culture, and has descended into a form of moral relativism that makes it almost impossible for them to provide any moral compass at all.
It is, I reflect on my sixty-first birthday, a shame.