The dangers of moral relativism

Lately I have been hearing a lot about the dangerous idea of relativism. It hurts my heart when I realize how many people have so easily been deceived by this dangerous teaching. Even good people, with good intentions, have bought the lie of relativism. In order to discuss this subject, I would first like to look at a definition of the word relativism.

any theory holding that criteria of judgment are relative, varying with individuals and their environments.

The idea is that there is no absolute truth. You have your truth and I can have mine. They may contradict each other yet they are both viewed as being valid. Based on this understanding, we cannot say a person’s actions are good or bad because we do not know the circumstances in which they were performed. The outcome (calling the action good or bad) is relative depending on each individual situation. In other words, we accept everything that others do and close our eyes to discernment. If you say that there is no absolute truth, then my question to you is, “are you absolutely sure about that statement?” By saying that there is no absolute truth then you have just declared an absolute truth. In other words, you have just contradicted yourself. Of course there is absolute truth. Not to acknowledge it is absolutely ridiculous (no pun intended, okay maybe a little). Since there is absolute truth, we cannot just simply accept everything without discernment (or making judgments based on the actions done). For example, relativism would say that I have no right to interfere and tell my brother who is a drug addict, that drugs are bad and that he is not only destroying his life but the lives of the people around him. Relativism would say, “but you do not know his situation, why he is using drugs. Maybe he has a good reason. Who are you to judge what is right or wrong?” Something that is destroying lives at a phenomenal rate (no matter what the motive of use is) is clearly wrong and needs to be said. With this article, I would like to present 2 reasons why the idea of moral relativism is bad and needs to be halted. If you adhere to the dangerous idea of moral relativism then you need to rethink why.

I. Relativism promotes chaos. Just recently in our city there were several murders that took place at the same time. There was a city council meeting and during this meeting, a man appeared with the purpose of taking human life. He brought a weapon with him and with his firearm, he murdered 6 innocent people. Six parents were murdered (three of them being grandparents as well). They were not the only victims. Children were also left without a parent or a grandparent. Some parents lost their children. Sisters lost their brothers and brothers lost their sisters during this disaster. Why? For no reason at all. The murderer did not have a good reason for his actions. The next day, the murderer’s brother spoke on the news and gave a statement and when one of the journalists made a comment saying, “what your brother did was evil and he is a murderer.” The murderer’s brother’s response was, “well, that is your opinion. I do not think it was evil and I do not think that he is a murderer”. He had just murdered 6 people in broad daylight the previous day.  The murderer’s brother appealed to the absurd teaching of moral relativism. Multiple murders may be bad in your eyes, and that is your opinion, but it is not in my eyes and that is my opinion. In other words, we are both correct because we both have our own versions of the truth. The journalist just stated the facts and then got accused of judging the murderer. That is moral relativism for you. Do you see what happens when you begin to walk down the slippery slope of moral relativism? You cannot make a judgment on anything. Chaos begins to reign. Everyone does what is right in his own eyes and no one can say that is bad or wrong. Would you like to live in a society where chaos reigns? In the book of Judges, that is exactly what life was like for the people of Israel. It was miserable. If it were miserable then why should we expect anything less today?

II. Relativism promotes evil. There is another situation that I would like to share which demonstrates the dangers of moral relativism. It is from the sports world. There was a coach who is accused of selling illegal drugs to his athletes. When he was called to testify on the stand his response to the players accusations that he is a drug dealer (he sold narcotics to his players) he said, “that is your opinion (that I am a drug dealer) I do not consider myself a drug dealer”. Once again, we see a person’s actions being called out for what they are, evil, is turned around as “your opinion” in the world of relativism. Evil is allowed to prosper in the world of moral relativism because who decides what is and is not evil? The judge did make a judgment. He called the man a drug dealer because of his actions and sent him to prison, like he deserved. You see, there is absolute truth that is applied in every circumstance.

The worst part of all. when it comes to moral relativism, is that people who are deceived by it do not realize that they are deceived. They believe that they are correct, even though they believe a lie. I would like to ask you my friend, have you been influenced by the evil teaching of moral relativism? Do you believe that there is a right and that there is a wrong, no matter the circumstances? If you want to know what is right and what is wrong, then you need to open the Bible, the Word of God.

9 And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve (discern/accept) the things that are excellent (as opposed to the things that are bad), in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ ; (Philippians 1)

May the Lord help us keep from being deceived.

7 comments on “The dangers of moral relativism

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  3. Hi,

    I was directed to your above blog by a friend when inquired about the topic of “Danger – Relativism.”

    The fact that people use moral relativism to hide from the real truth and morally condone their actions is very sad and can be very painful, as you have cited.

    But I still believe in relativism as a concept helps to understanding different people and their perspectives (but not for judging and/or condoning other people or their actions – for that the discernment of universal truths, or God’s laws/love should suffice).

    And on absolute truth, again I agree with you on its existence. But as in the scripture quoted, we need “real knowledge and all discernment” to understand that. So a misguided understanding of the absolute truth can also lead to the same outcomes as listed for moral relativism.
    For example, a person convinced on some misguided religious belief of “absolute truth” might be persuaded to carry out a terrorist activity causing harm to many (chaos).
    Another example being the Church in the medieval times being dogmatic about its “absolute truths” (or what it considered to be absolute) and persecuted those who stood against it.

    In short, and knowledge given to man by himself may be incomplete and can be a cause for destruction or careful construction, depending on how we use it. But “real knowledge and all discernment” of God’s love helps to overcome our shortcomings and moral pitfalls.

    I agree moral relativism is harmful for society as a whole, but we also need to exercise care when we are led to judge others in the name of absolute truth (are we really doing His will or our interpretation of it, like the people who were zealous enough to stone the woman caught in adultery, but for Jesus who takes a different stand.)

    Thanks for your article and my to friend, Jinto.

    God bless…

    • Thank you Jinto for your well reasoned response. I hope to have future dialogue with you. I have a few comments on what you have written.

      Do you feel that telling people about universal truths is the same as judging people, even when their beliefs do not match up with the universal truths? If I tell you that cocaine use is wrong and then demonstrate why, am I being judgmental?

      If you separate the Bible from your search for absolute truth then you will be misguided (see radical Islam as one example). The Bible is the measuring stick because it is absolute Truth. It is not absolute truth because I believe it, I believe it because it is absolute truth. There is a huge difference in those 2 statements and I hope that you understand the difference.

      You use the “church” during medieval times as an example of misguided dogma but my question is, what provoked the Crusades and my other question is, were they leaders who lead the inquisition and Crusades being directed by the absolute truth of the Bible?

      I want to emphasize the difference between “judging” and making discernment because they are two totally different things. Many people try to use the Bible, “do not judge others” to say that you cannot say that anything is wrong. That is not the case. Jesus, the One who said, “judge not” went on to call some people swine and others dogs because of their actions. He was not judging them, He called them out on their actions. When I tell a person that sexual immorality is dangerous because it is destructive in so many ways, I am not judging that person, I am sharing reality with him or her (like saying that heroine abuse is wrong because of the dangers).

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