In other words, we make up our own morality without any reference to an outside, objective authority, i.e., God.
Subjectivism has become rampant in most of what used to be called Christian civilization. Moreover, those who, as a recent president infamously remarked, “cling to their religion,” are pressured, by law, to violate their consciences and accept the new ideas of morality. At this time, we await a Supreme Court decision on whether a Christian bakery must be forced to make and decorate a same-sex-marriage-affirming cake.
This type of subjectivism is a poison that will lead to the destruction of traditional Christian morality in a society, thus destroying that society eventually.
“The Poison of Subjectivism” is an essay by C. S. Lewis that addresses this danger. Strong statements such as this one against the subjective mindset would be roundly condemned in our day:
This whole attempt to jettison traditional values as something subjective and to substitute a new scheme of values for them is wrong. It is like trying to lift yourself by your own coat collar.
Then he gives two propositions that should, he advises, be “written into our minds with indelible ink.” They are the following:
(2) Every attempt to do so consists in arbitrarily selecting some one maxim of traditional morality, isolating it from the rest, and erecting it into an unam necessarium.
In the case of same-sex marriage, there remains the vague concept of marriage and an even more vague definition of love. Both come from traditional morality, but they are lifted from their Biblical basis and given a new twist. The arbitrary selection of “love” as the highest good, isolated from all the boundaries in which we are to understand that word, provides a new morality that rests solely on subjective belief.
“All idea of ‘new’ or ‘scientific’ or ‘modern’ moralities,” Lewis counters, “must therefore be dismissed as mere confusion of thought.” It comes down to only two alternatives:
Either the maxims of traditional morality must be accepted as axioms of practical reason which neither admit nor require argument to support them . . . or else there are no values at all, what we mistook for values being ‘projections’ of irrational emotions.
Irrational emotions abound in the actions of those pushing the latest new morality. Objections to their newfound right and wrong must be shouted down, and if that doesn’t work, the strong arm of the government must be brought to bear against any who oppose this new understanding.
What makes this even worse is that many, under the banner of Christian love, try to give the new morality a Christian affirmation. Lewis will have none of that:
A theology which goes about to represent our practical reason as radically unsound is heading for disaster. If we once admit that what God means by “goodness” is sheerly different from what we judge to be good, there is no difference left between pure religion and devil worship.
Government and pseudo-science come together in an unholy alliance to advance the “new” morality and ensure that everyone accepts it:
He believes that “good” means whatever men are conditioned to approve. He believes that it is the function of him and his kind to condition men; to create consciences by eugenics, psychological manipulation of infants, state education and mass propaganda.
Politicians team with the social scientists to “create” a new “conscience.” Propaganda wins the day as the unthinking masses (you pick the percentage of the population that fits that description) are led along this destructive path.
The planners, Lewis believes, may not yet fully realize what they have done, but once they grasp the power they have in their hands, they will use it fully.
He must awake to the logic of his position sooner or later; and when he does, what barrier remains between us and the final division of the race into a few conditioners who stand themselves outside morality and the many conditioned in whom such morality as the experts choose is produced at the experts’ pleasure?
If “good” means only the local ideology, how can those who invent the local ideology be guided by any idea of good themselves?
Lewis then summarizes where the society ends up:
The very idea of freedom presupposes some objective moral law which overarches rulers and ruled alike. Subjectivism about values is eternally incompatible with democracy. We and our rulers are of one kind only so long as we are subject to one law.
But if there is no Law of Nature, the ethos of any society is the creation of its rulers, educators, and conditioners; and every creator stands above and outside his own creation.
We have a choice between creators: the one holy God who gives us His objective standard of morality or the people who seek to overturn that objective morality and substitute their own whims (that allow them to do as they please) as the new morality.
The first unites us with Eternal Love; the second leads to eternal misery and remorse.