Moral relativism is one of the most dangerous ethical theories invented by man, yet it is the dominant ethical theory in modern America among progressives.
According to moral relativism, what is “right” or “wrong” depends upon an individual’s preference.
Moral relativism is far from a modern, progressive moral theory. Rather, it is described in the Bible:
“In those days . . . everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” -Judges 21:25
One of the first discussions I have in my ethics classes involves whether students wish for others to tell them what is right or wrong. Inevitably, the initial answer is a unanimous “No!” We don’t like to be told we’re wrong; we don’t like for people to judge us.
Then I move to a series of questions, somewhat like the method Plato uses in his dialogues featuring Socrates. Many of you know this as the Socratic method, and I use it to help students discover why moral relativism theory is but a leaky rowboat in an ocean of moral ideas.
Here are a few questions I typically ask:
Is it wrong for a 40-year old man to marry an 8-year old girl? Is having a child bride always wrong? Are honor killings wrong?
Is female genital mutilation always wrong?
Is having sex with animals always wrong?
Often, someone inevitably defends such actions in the name of “cultural relativism.” The typical justification is that it is acceptable for societies to practices such things if they wish.
“But what about those social customs immigrating to America,” I counter. Would these actions be “right” here?
Deep down, we all know these acts are wrong. Even those of us who say we shouldn’t interfere with the norms of other societies know these types of acts are wrong. Moral relativism is doomed to fail, but we need to know why it will fail.
Here are 3 Ways Moral Relativism is a Biblical Failure:
1. Moral Relativism Denies Moral Standards
Morality is a reflection of moral standards. When we say something is “good” or “evil,” we are making a judgment based upon some sort of standard.
However, moral relativists deny that anything is “just wrong.” Morality must not be based upon any universal, absolute, set standard. Rather, rights and wrongs are said to be based on social or even individual preferences.
Essentially, moral relativism insists that morality should be based upon generally accepted norms in a given society.
The idea of a God that gives absolute moral standards is anathema to moral relativists.
Not surprisingly, moral relativists have no genuine regard for the Ten Commandments.
2. Moral Relativism Denies the Original Moral World Order
Moral relativism represents a departure from ancient understandings of a rational order which governs all aspects of the universe. The ancient Egyptians called this “ma’at”; the Hindus called it “rita,” and the Greeks called it “Logos,” which in English is translated as “Word.”
Each of these words captures the concept of living a life of wisdom in balance, truth, and harmony with the created world.
The gospel of John identifies the Logos as Jesus, who became one of us in order to show us how to live in this rational world and to enable us to live according to the original moral order He created:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.” -John 1:1-3 (NKJV)
3. By Denying the Original Moral World Order, Moral Relativism Promotes Sin.
Failing to live according to this absolute, unchanging moral standard is called sin:
“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.” – 1 John 1:8-10 (NKJV)
Sin in this context is a concept which means “missing the mark.” Sin is a moral failing to adhere to moral standards that do not change.
How do we keep from missing the mark? We have to know the mark:
“This book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” – Joshua 1:8 (NKJV)