Summary: It all depends on what God's Word says.
All-American Idols Series
Title: It Depends! Relativism)
Text: Joshua 1:8
Thesis: It all depends on what God’s Word says.
I have included this message in the All-American Idols Series because my sense is, we as a culture and even as Christians have begun to listen to other voices that, unfiltered by God’s Word, are affecting our beliefs, our convictions, the way we look at things and our actions, i.e., behavior and lifestyles.
Her story first appeared on the Daily Beast in 2009 and her mutilated face appeared on the cover of Time Magazine in 2010. When she was 12 her father promised her to a Taliban fighter as compensation… blood money. She was married at 14 whereupon she was abused by her husband… even forced to sleep with the animals.
When she was 18 she attempted to run away but police caught her and returned her to her family who then returned her to her husband. Her father-in-law, her husband and his brother took her into the mountains where they cut off her nose and ears and left her to die. She was rescued by aid workers who took her to an American military hospital where she stayed for a couple of months before being flown to the United States where she was fitted with a prosthetic nose and was to eventually have restorative surgery on her nose.
A Canadian university professor in Ontario showed her photo to his senior philosophy class when there were studying a section on ethics. Attempting to force his students to form some sort of baseline for making ethical decisions, he showed her photo, told her story and asked, “Was what was done to Bibi right or wrong?”
He was shocked to discover that his students would not decide. They remained nonjudgmental. The prevailing response was, “We might not like it but maybe over there it’s okay.” And, “It’s just wrong to judge other cultures.”
In other words, “It depends!”
This morning I hope to identify an objective baseline or benchmark whereby we may be assured that we are believing and living by objective truth.
The issue is distinguishing between what is true and what is error and what is right and what is wrong. Truth and error. Right and wrong. Good and evil. Not sinful and sinful.
• Objective truth is always true… it exists outside of personal experiences, feelings, opinions or beliefs.
• Subjective truth is determined by a person’s personal experiences, feelings, beliefs and opinions.
• Relative truth depends… there are no absolutes. All points of view are equally valid… truth is relative to every individual, situation or culture, etc. It always depends.
The initial problem with determining objective truth is that people generally feel that morality is a personal (subjective) matter. We don’t like to judge. But if truth and morality are objective it is true for everyone everywhere. If “you shall not commit murder” is an objective moral truth it is universally so. Anyone anywhere who commits murder has broken the moral code of objective truth. You can’t just stone your daughter for embarrassing your family. You can’t go around shooting policemen because you are convinced the government is oppressive.
The question for the Christian becomes: How do I know what is true or not true? How do I know what is right and wrong? What truth is always true and can always be relied upon to inform my beliefs, convictions and my behavior?
This is a critical issue because, ”if we do not believe in any objective truth it is very difficult to make any value decisions on behaviors and actions. We simply accept whatever happens because there is no standard for truth or right or wrong, which then allows for whatever actions take place… we have no moral compass or set of values that root us.” (Mark Dowd, Are There Objective Truths in Life and the World? ABC News, March 6, 2014)
As people we believe there must be objective truth. There must be a clear understanding of right and wrong… otherwise we have anarchy.
In Deuteronomy the Israelites received instructions regarding the need to be careful to obey God’s decrees in the land they were promised because at present “every person was doing as he pleased or what was right in his own eyes.” (Deuteronomy 12:8) If the rule is, everyone does as it seems right in his own eyes, i.e., as he pleases – we are adrift without a moral compass to point the way for us all. If in any and every instance “It Depends” as to what is truth or error and right or wrong we are adrift.
If it is ok to cut off your wife’s nose in Afghanistan and it is okay to abandon newborn girl babies in China or to practice abortion, infanticide and euthanasia in the Netherlands or rape the women of lower castes in India, or consume Vodka until it seeps from your pores in Russia, or gamble away your savings, max out your credit cards, lose your home, your wife and kids gambling in America… then anything goes.