What is moral relativity?
Moral relativity, or the belief that there is no absolute truth that can be applied to morals and ethics, continues to be a popular mindset in our society. It is also one of the many philosophical tools that makes things worse in the world since it tends to lead to embracing and promoting evil. “What’s true for you may not be true for me,” or “There’s no such thing as truth or absolute truth,” seem to be some of the more popular phrases of the day. But if one really takes the time to think about those statements, it is easy to see that the statements contradict themselves. If no one can determine what the truth really is when it comes to right and wrong, then how can one know that “what’s true for you may not be true for me” or “there’s no such thing as absolute truth” are themselves true statements? If there’s no truth, then the assumption that those phrases are true is a false assumption. So the arguments collapse on themselves like a house of cards.
But, of course, there are several clichés that are twisted to try to support moral relativism like “Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder,” or “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” when these sayings had nothing to do with morals and ethics when they were first coined. Then there is the argument that making moral choices in life is like choosing between apples and oranges as if those choices are nothing more than innocent personal preferences. It’s the mentality behind embezzlement (a fancy word for stealing), adultery, abortion, false religion, and a whole host of other sins in our society.
There’s nothing new under the sun
Mankind’s mentality of doing what’s right in our own eyes is not something new. It has been around since Adam and Eve made the choice to disregard God’s command about eating fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God has been battling that way of thinking since that time and will continue to fight against it until it’s time for him to create the new heavens and new earth. Since God is merciful, patient, and longsuffering, he has always sent messengers to warn people if they are straying far away from his truth–his truth being the standards all of mankind (past, present, and future) will be judged by when judgment day gets here.
Ancient Israel’s moral relativism
One example of God battling moral relativism was during the ministry of the prophet Isaiah, who God sent to warn ancient Israel that if they didn’t get their act together, they would be punished for their wickedness–
“Who is among you that feareth the LORD, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? let him trust in the name of the LORD, and stay upon his God. Behold, all ye that kindle a fire, that compass yourselves about with sparks: walk in the light of your fire, and in the sparks that ye have kindled. This shall ye have of mine hand; ye shall lie down in sorrow.” Isaiah 50:10-11
God, through Isaiah, gives encouragement to everyone in their society, whether sinner or saint, to trust and rely on him. He cries out to those who fear and obey his messengers (saints) and to those who are walking in darkness without the spiritual light of his truth (sinners). He desires that they all put their trust in the name of the LORD and anchor (stay) themselves in him. What name should they put their trust in? None other than the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. For it is at the name of Jesus that every knee should bow–whether in heaven, on earth, or under the earth–and every tongue shall confess that Jesus is Lord to the glory of God the Father. The name of Jesus is not the same as the name of Buddha, or Vishnu, or Allah, or Krishna, or the god of Latter-Day Saints, or the god of Ba’hai, or B’nai B’rith, or the Jehovah of the Watchtower Society, or the god and goddess of Wicca. Jesus’ name is above all of those names, regardless of what moral relativism says.
After he encourages them to trust in him, the Lord warns them through Isaiah–like he warns all of mankind–of the consequences that will result for those who push his welcoming, loving arms away. Those who refuse to accept his truth are guilty of lighting their own fires to walk in the light of their own moral and ethical truth. They surround themselves with their own light, which is to say that every decision they make in their lives is based on their own set of rules and standards, not God’s. The ancient Israelites were moral relativists, just like many people today.
Does God promise a happy, content future for the moral relativists? Based on what Isaiah 50:11 says, they will lie down in sorrow. What does that mean? Even if the moral relativists make it through this life without suffering the consequences for their actions, there is a judgment to be expected from God in eternity when they will face the sorrow of having nothing to look forward to. Their sorrow will come from the hand of God to deliver them over to the outer darkness of hell, where there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth because of extreme torment.
It is clear that, like the Israelites, God is showing mankind that we have two choices. We can either repent and live by God’s beneficial standards in this life and be blessed with spiritual riches in heaven or we can choose to live our own way and face spiritual bankruptcy during eternity. The ultimate choice is in our hands, but there are results for either choice we make.
Why do people choose moral relativity over God?
The simple answer is that people enjoy sin–we enjoy evil. So we come up with excuses why it’s not in our best interest to surrender to Jesus Christ. One argument is “Well, how do I know the Bible is really true?” and they come up with theories and falsified evidence to try to convince themselves that the Bible is a lie, when in their mind they may be thinking “If I become a Christian, I won’t be able to do fun stuff like curse, or have sex outside of marriage, or get drunk, or get my revenge on people who do me wrong. Then what will happen at the end of my life when I die and there’s no after-life like the Bible says? I’ll have given up my fun for nothing!”
Then there is the ever-popular “Christians are hypocrites! They don’t practice what they preach and they act like they’re better than me when they’re not!” But whether or not they know a Christian who is a hypocrite does not diminish in any way the truth in the Bible. When Jesus after he resurrected told Peter to follow him, Peter responded with “What about him. What’s he going to do?” referring to John, Jesus’ response (to paraphrase) was “Don’t worry about him. If he is still alive when I return to earth, that’s none of your business. You just focus on what I tell you to do.” So if God is telling someone to follow him, they can’t use the excuse about hypocritical Christians to avoid getting saved. In reality they are not concerned about hypocritical Christians. They’re probably thinking “Well, if I become a Christian and you expect me to give up my fun sins, why doesn’t so-and-so give up hers when she’s already a Christian? I think I’ll go ahead and continue my sin, thank you very much! I needed a good excuse not to give up my sin, so I’ll use so-and-so as my excuse.”
Jesus was so correct when he said, “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.” (John 3:19-20) Or, as it says in Proverbs, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes.”
–posted by Harry A. Gaylord–