Summary: In the story of Satan in the Garden we see the beginning of Relativistic Morality and the absurdity it now has reaped upon our society
OPEN: A famous preacher once joked from the pulpit: “In English they teach us that 2 negatives make a positive statement (i.e = "there’s no way I’m not going to go"). So the way I figure it, if I know I’m lying, and God knows I’m lying – I gotta be telling the truth.”
APPLY: That strikes us as funny because we don’t think of truth as being flexible. Truth can’t be altered or amended. Truth - by its very nature - is consistent, reliable, bedrock – you don’t change “truth.”
Responding to a reporter who was badgering her, Margaret Thatcher once remarked: “Of course it’s the same old story. Truth usually is the same old story."
I. As simple as this idea may seem, there are people who literally work at undermining the belief in “absolute truth.”
ILLUS: When I went to Purdue University, I was introduced to the concept of “Moral Relativism.” Moral Relativism (for those of you not familiar with this idea) is the belief that truth is changeable… that it is “relative.” In other words, “What is true depends on your point of view. It is “relative” to your circumstances or your point of view.
A high school textbook “Inquiries in Sociology” declared "There are exceptions to almost all moral laws, depending on the situation. What is wrong in one instance may be right in another."
Illus: Supposedly, radio personality George V. Denny, Jr. had a ball he liked to display when the question of tolerance came up. Grasping the ball tightly in his hand, he would ask, "What color is it?"
The person questioned would take a quick look and answer, "Black."
Denny would then shake his head. "The part I see is white." He would give the ball a twirl to show the other half - white.
"We could never agree on the color of this ball," Denny would point out, "unless you knew my point of view and unless I realized you were looking at it from another point of view."
Now, that sounds reasonable when dealing with attitudes like tolerance and personal opinions. But if we use that standard when examining morality, we end up with no moral absolutes – no yardstick about what is right and wrong. All we’re left with is a flexible standard regarding what is morally acceptable. And with that new found flexibility, we can become adrift in a society whose principles are based upon what the most people agree to. That society becomes dominated by a “poll driven” morality.
II. Moral Relativism rejects the idea that there is “absolute truth”
In fact, those who reject absolute truth are ABSOLUTELY SURE there is no absolute truth. Some of the principles of “relativism” are:
“There are two sides to every question”
“There are exceptions to almost all moral laws,”
AND “No one has the right to say someone else’s activities are morally wrong”
You might say, Jeff, that’s well and good, but why tell us this?
Because we live in an age that is dominated by this philosophy: Back in July 94, Newsweek declared “Despite the call for virtue, we live in an age of moral relativism”
Over the past decade, several surveys have found that fully 3 out of every 4 Americans believe there are not moral absolutes. When they surveyed teenagers, it was the same ratio… (3 out of 4 teenagers) but then they also found that 4 out of 5 also claim that nobody can know for certain whether or not… they actually know what truth is.
This may help to explain why a majority of teenagers in that survey (57 %) said that lying was sometimes necessary - not merely convenient, common, understandable or acceptable, but necessary.
ILLUS: John Leo in U.S. News (7/21/97) quoted a professor Robert Simon of Hamilton College in Clinton, N.Y. as reporting that "10 to 20% of his students... acknowledged the Holocaust but couldn’t bring themselves to say that killing millions of people was wrong.... one student told Simon, ’Of course I dislike the Nazis, but who is to say they are morally wrong?’"
Leo went on to note "2 disturbing articles in the Chronicle of Higher Education say that some students are unwilling to oppose large moral horrors, including human sacrifice, ethnic cleansing, and slavery, because they think no one has the right to criticize the moral views of another group or culture."
III. How does this happen? How do people get to point where they reject absolute truth and embrace such absurdity…
* Partly because of rebellion. Daniel 8:12 states: “Because of rebellion… truth was thrown to the ground.”
* Partly because absolute truth gets in the way of what many people want to do with their lives. Jeremiah 7:28 declared “This is the nation that has not obeyed the LORD its God or responded to correction. Truth has perished; it has vanished from their lips.”