Anthony Esolen, always a good read, put it this way:
Disgust, literally the repugnance we experience when we taste something foul, is to fleshly sins what shame is to dishonor. We should not underestimate the protective power of either. We are not disembodied spirits, or calculating machines. We are souls embodied: we blush, or ought to. What keeps the soldier at his station, when he might run to save his skin while exposing his comrades to enemy fire? His training, no doubt, but training that has instilled in him a strong sense of honor, and of shame should he expose himself to dishonor. What keeps the unchurched man from signing a false income tax return? Not much, these days; fear, perhaps; but if he knows that he can get away with the false return but refuses to cheat anyway, you can depend upon it, he has a strong sense of honor. It would be low, base, beneath him, unworthy of him, to lie. His brand of honesty may not be the best, but honorable pagans are not the worst people in the world, either.What is most concerning about the direction of culture is not that evil is named good but nothing is named evil. There is no shame or embarrassment. There is no disgust. Absent a common value on what is wrong, shameful, and worthy of our contempt, the only thing left is to heap this upon those who have the nerve to disagree. So it is that we have so quickly gone from toleration and acceptance of GLBTQ folks to the point where question or opposition of the GLBTQ agenda is homophobia, racism, and injustice worse than every other wrong -- indeed, the only real evil!
What has been a gradual movement away from the categories of sin and virtue, evil and good, honor and shame/disgust seems like it has crept up on us overnight. In reality it has been coming for about three generations but the pace is become ever more rapid until for many folks (Christian and not) the world is spinning dangerously out of control. There is no common sense or a common sense of what is right and wrong, good and evil. Marriage was truly undone and the family in peril long before the SCOTUS condemned opposition to gay marriage. This is most certainly true. But the pace of the changes and the speed with which we have left behind the old values that once normed our lives has left us dangerously and vulnerably adrift upon the uncharted waters of trend and fad. Who can predict what will come next?
It is incumbent upon theologians and philosophers and statesmen to spell out the reasons why such behavior is wrong. But it is not incumbent upon the common person to do so. You do not say to someone who has brought himself to dine upon feces, so that it is to him an evil second nature, “You know, you should really check a dietician about that.” Nor do you say anything similar to your children. You rely upon their natural sense of disgust: you corroborate it and you direct it. Everything genuinely natural is your ally.
No apologies about this. Persons must be loved; that includes all manner of sinners, and it also includes the children we are raising, whom we wish to arm fully against the madness of our time. Sins must be rejected—and here all the armory of our psychological and physiological makeup should be polished and ready, for self-defense. Intellect without heart is a man with a sword, but no shield and no breastplate. Disgust is a good thick shield. It is not sufficient for the battle. It is necessary.As a Lutheran it my fear that we may have contributed to the pace of this change. We sound like naysayers who have nothing to contribute but "no" and the antiquated voices of a past long ago gone and many wish forgotten. We speak rightfully of sin and forgiveness, of unrighteousness and Christ's clothing of righteousness, but we do not speak for the cause of virtue. We have not voiced as urgently or as passionately the need to raise up the good and to herald the cause of virtue that we might seek what is good, right, true, holy, pure, and beautiful. We offer people a place for their shame to be cleansed but do we offer them a vision of a holier life? We call people to a repentance that admits and confesses sin but do we call people to the other part of repentance which involves a change of life?
Just as we must be involved in the sin, evil, shame, disgust side of the equation, so also must we be involved in speaking for virtue, what is right, what is good, and what ennobles us as the people of God born anew in our baptism to live as the new people God has declared us to be. It is my conviction that the world knows something is wrong when everything is good and nothing is evil, when there is no shame, disgust, or outrage left (except that which disagrees with naming evil as good). They long not only for a refuge for sinners (which the Church is) but also a vision of goodness, holiness, and righteousness to be cast before us all even though our striving will surely fall short. They long for those whose voices will not only condemn what is wrong but herald what is the eternal good. Christ came not only to die for sinners but to live in holiness and righteousness. He covers us with His righteousness so that we may strive to become what we surely are in Him. That is too often what is missing from Lutheran preaching and teaching (mea culpa). We cannot blame the most outrageous for that which has become normal if we have not held forth the cause of virtue and have only condemned the wrong.