In short, we are going to have to challenge the current Christian culture with a more traditionalist one.
So what is the problem with Christianity today? One problem has to do with a preeminent Christian virtue, that of caritas. In the Bible we read quotes like the following:
Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.And this:
38 This is the first and great commandment.
39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
as you would that men should do to you, do you also to them in like manner
Such quotes have led to a belief amongst many Christians that the highest virtue, and the path to salvation, is a selfless love of the other that transcends any particular distinctions. This can then lead to the idea that the best Christian is the one who goes furthest in sacrificing himself for the "other".
You can see how this fits in with liberalism. The liberal script is similar: the liberal elite considers itself morally superior insofar as it practises non-discrimination toward the other, unlike the non-liberal mainstream.
The current, popular understanding of caritas within Christian culture has major problems. It dissolves the particular loves and loyalties on which communities are founded in favour of a "perfected love" which is proved by "selflessly" transcending the particular. The Christian subject effectively becomes an abstracted individual, just as the liberal subject is abstracted.
Once again, we traditionalists are up against what has become established as an orthodoxy. So how do we challenge this orthodoxy?
Not by rejecting caritas as a virtue. If we love God, and if we hold that men are made in the image of God, then our loving concern for other men does not stop at those to whom we are more particularly related.
However, that doesn't mean that our particular loves and duties are rendered null and void. The Catholic Church has recognised this by formulating an "ordo caritas":
The exercise of charity would soon become injudicious and inoperative unless there be in this, as in all the moral virtues, a well-defined order...
The precedence is plain enough...Regarding the persons alone, the order is somewhat as follows: self, wife, children, parents, brothers and sisters, friends, domestics, neighbours, fellow-countrymen, and all others.
It's important, too, that Christians don't talk themselves into an abstracted sense of self that isn't enjoined on them by the Bible. As I pointed out in a previous discussion of this issue:
If I love my neighbour as I love myself I will wish for him the objective goods in life. That will include that he enjoy membership in a traditional community of his own. I will want his life to be rightly ordered.
But remember - I am loving him as I love myself - so to the extent that I wish upon him this objective good so too would I wish it upon myself and to those closest to me.
And my first responsibility in working for the achievement of these goods is to myself and those closest to me extending out in a circle to my family and friends, my neighbours, my countrymen and then all others.
Nor is caritas to be understood as a forced emotionalism. The Catholic doctrine is that the seat of caritas is to be found in the will rather than the emotions:
Its seat, in the human will. Although charity is at times intensely emotional, and frequently reacts on our sensory faculties, still it properly resides in the rational will a fact not to be forgotten by those who would make it an impossible virtue.
Finally, it's also important to remember the context in which Jesus was teaching. Judaism at the time of Jesus was divided into a number of currents: the Pharisees, the Sadducees and the Zealots. Jesus appears to criticise the leading faults of each of these currents. The Zealots, for instance, were focused on violence; the Sadducees were elitist; and the Pharisees were concerned with the letter of the law:
An important binary in the New Testament is the opposition between law and love. Accordingly, the New Testament, presents the Pharisees as obsessed with man-made rules (especially concerning purity) whereas Jesus is more concerned with God’s love; the Pharisees scorn sinners whereas Jesus seeks them out. Because of the New Testament's frequent depictions of Pharisees as self-righteous rule-followers, the word "pharisee" has come into semi-common usage in English to describe a hypocritical and arrogant person who places the letter of the law above its spirit.
The story of the Good Samaritan can be read in the light of this. An "expert in the law stood up to test Jesus" and asked Jesus who exactly was his neighbour that he should love as himself. Jesus then told the story of the man who was robbed and who wasn't helped by passers-by until a stranger, a Samaritan, came by.
A reader, Gerry T. Neal, commented on this in a previous discussion as follows:
Jesus was not interested in answering the man's question but in addressing the spirit that lay behind it. By asking "who is my neighbor", the lawyer was hoping to get a definition of "neighbor" that would enable him to say "okay, these are the people I have to love, I don't have to love these other people". This reflects the legalistic attitude of "I will do what is required of me - but only the very minimum".
The parable Jesus tells, in which a robbed person, left to die on a highway, is ignored by the people who should be most concerned with helping him, and is helped by a member of a despised rival ethnic group, speaks to that attitude. The people who walked by the man in need found reasons to justify their not stopping to help. That is the kind of justification the lawyer was looking for. Jesus was not willing to give it.
This parable then, does not mean that our specific duties to love specific people, have been abrogated by Jesus and replaced with a universal command to love everybody equally. It means that our requirement to love our family and kin, our friends and neighbors, and our countryman, does not translate into an excuse for a lack of compassion and charity towards others to whom we do not have those specific bonds of attachment.
We are not to have a "closed off" attitude of doing the minimum required by the letter of the law. That's not supposed to be the motivating spirit. Jesus emphasised this because his interrogator was a Pharisee. If we were walking along and saw someone of another ethnic group in trouble would we help out? Or would we turn our backs because we thought, in a legalistic sense, we weren't obliged to assist?
Surely it is possible to think that we would stop and help a fellow human being, as an act of loving concern (caritas), without then dissolving all particular human relationships into an abstracted "serve the other". The former is clearly enjoined on us by the Bible. The latter is not.