Why Things Aren’t Black and White Anymore

When the story broke that Rachel Dolezal, a woman whose ancestry was white, wanted to “identify” as black and for the world to join her in that belief, I just shook my head and thought, “What in the world are we going to come up with next?” But as I pondered the matter, I realized that my response might have been wrong.

It might have been wrong if I understood and accepted (which I don’t) the way we think these days. If that were the case, my response should have been, “Why, of course. It makes perfect sense.”

A New Way of Thinking

In his aptly titled book Escape from Reason, the late Francis Schaeffer said that a “new way of thinking” about things had taken hold of our culture since German philosopher Georg Hegel first articulated it. Regarding our acceptance of this new way of thinking Hegel said:

“The mass of people have received the new way of thinking through the mass media without analyzing it. It is worse for them because they have been smashed in the face by it, because the cinema, television, the books they read, the press, magazines have been infiltrated by the new thought-forms in an unanalyzed way.”

Then Schaeffer said something else we must understand:

“[T]he reason why Christians are not understanding their own children is because the children are being educated into the other way of thinking. It is not merely that they think different things. They think differently.

In other words, those my age—later 50s and older—were raised with a worldview different from those in Ms. Dolezal’s generation. And we can forget that Ms. Dolezal’s generation is steeped in this worldview. I shake my head and think people have lost their minds only because I haven’t critically thought through the new worldview.

The Old and New Ways of Thinking

At the risk of oversimplifying things, the old way of thinking was called “antithesis,” meaning that if a certain thing was true, its opposite was not true. In morals and ethics, this meant that if something was right, then its opposite was wrong.

But with the death of right or wrong and the embrace of relativism, Hegel proposed the idea of synthesis. Generally speaking, this meant that there was one position and another position and rather than one being right or wrong, those two positions were used to arrive at a new, third position.

With this new way of thinking, there is no real truth anymore, just a thing we call truth and it, like nature itself, is always evolving. This was the transfer of the evolutionary worldview in the field of biology to the field of sociology, the way we live our lives together. When we understand this, we can now understand what is happening.

Applying the New Thinking to the Issues

With this new way of thinking, sex outside of marriage isn’t right or wrong; it is just a biological activity. That paved the way for sex to be removed as a part of the concept of marriage. A new concept of marriage now emerges that is based on love, respect, and mutual support. (And now we can see why arguments today about the relationship between marriage and procreation are incomprehensible to the younger generation.)

This position regarding marriage now leaves us unsure about why marriage must be rooted in the biology of male and female, so we “synthesize” to another new position, namely, same-sex “marriage.” And, in time, that “position” will give way to other new positions, probably polygamy and then polyandry, in that order.

But having jettisoned the idea of male and female being an antithesis—opposites, if you will— then another new position evolves about biology, namely, transgenderism and what we’re now calling “gender fluidity.”

However, if something as different as male and female can be disconnected from biology, why can’t just about anything else a person can think of be “disconnected” from reality, like the color of one’s skin? Isn’t age just a state of mind— “you’re as young as you feel” —not a matter of chronology?

Hopefully, things are now starting to make sense. When we reject any absolutes, we have no reason not to embrace just about anything. We have, as Schaeffer said, “escaped from reason.”

It’s More Than the Issue

But we also need to understand something else: When we embrace the modern view of sex or the modern view of marriage, we are not just embracing a particular thing. We really are embracing a worldview. And we can’t really complain when the worldview we’ve embraced produces something we don’t understand or don’t like.

With today’s worldview, we can no longer say something is right or wrong, just different. Or as Ms. Dolezal might say, things just aren’t as black and white as they used to be.


David Fowler served in the Tennessee state Senate for 12 years before joining FACT as President in 2006. Read David’s complete bio.

FACT-RSS-Blog-Icon-small Get David Fowler’s Blog as a feed.

Invite David Fowler to speak at your event