Self-truth: When Anything Goes.
Sure, there are lots of churches in America. But is American still a “Christian” nation?
Look around, and it’s clear to see that most people have adopted the mindset of “I will decide for myself what’s right and wrong.” And as we’re seeing, when God’s moral truth becomes a matter of personal preference, practically anything goes.
Sadly, our “anything goes” culture is significantly influencing our perception of God. It’s affecting our view of the authority of the Bible, our concept of what’s virtuous, our ideas of honor and courage, even our understanding of justice.
If we want America to continue to experience God’s grace and mercy, we must turn our hearts toward him. And we must train our youth to seek after God.
How Authoritative is the Bible?
As history proves, humans have a tendency to choose self-serving ways. The core problem is our broken human nature. So when we put that nature first, rather than seeking to live lives that please God, we suffer. Our society suffers. And, ultimately implodes. We’re already seeing its unraveling.
Oh, that we would experience revival! And see our youth experience the power of God in their lives! I also pray that all Christians would seek out God’s word. That the Bible would again be esteemed be our culture as the true source of moral truth.
Sadly, many people consider the Bible to be only one source among many sources. Too, many Christians cherry-pick its contents. They decide which parts they will accept and apply to their lives—and which parts they will ignore.
Some who read the Bible interpret meaning through their limited personal filter. They don’t spend enough time gaining a sound biblical foundation that puts scripture into proper context. This leads to confusion and even pain, for themselves and others. Many of our Christian youth view the bible as just a set of inspirational stories, not God’s holy word.
Some Christian educators have publicly endorsed the notion that as an antiquated book, the Bible doesn’t apply to all areas of modern life. The warnings against homosexuality, for example, is one issue they say the Bible got wrong. The church, they argue, must reject these outdated teachings to “stay relevant.”
Says one popular educator who used to pastor a mega church, “…the church will continue to be even more irrelevant when it quotes letters from 2,000 years ago as their best defense.”
Perhaps this fellow has forgotten that God never loses his relevance. Or that scripture, inspired by God, reveals that God is fully in control. Through the Bible, we learn that God wishes to restore us to right relationship with him. That he has a plan for each of us, that our lives matter. When we hold a Bible in our hands, we are cradling his holy promises to us.
We each, of course, must choose whether to believe that Bible really is God speaking to us. Will we view it as the authoritative moral source for how we are to live?
How Virtuous are Virtues?
Our culture believes that it is honorable to defend our nation against those who threaten our freedom. As a nation that upholds the rule of law, we are to honor and promote the good, defend the rights of freedom of speech and religion, and seek to protect the citizenry against lawlessness and corruption.
What many may not realize, however, is how the doctrine of cultural tolerance is undermining the virtues we claim to uphold.
That’s because under the philosophy of cultural tolerance, evil and good can only be relative ideals. Without an objective truth—God’s truth—good and evil are defined by the individual, community, or society. So “truth” is always changing.
This is why some view abortion as no big deal; it’s simply a choice of convenience. But others view it as murder. It’s why some of us view sex as a recreational activity, and others view it as a sacred joining of a married couple. It’s why some people have no compassion for the homeless, and others work hard to meet their basic needs. It’s why some feel no remorse for bilking others out of their life savings, and why others consider stealing as morally wrong.
Even though Christians have been imperfect in their practice of tolerance, Christianity itself provides the only suitable basis for tolerance and human rights.
As Christian author Frank Turek observes, “To have an unchanging objective standard of justice, you don’t need molecules—you need an objective, unchanging judge who has supreme authority. Humans can’t provide that. Human beings are changeable and do not hold absolute authority even over other human beings. You need God for that.”
How Just is Justice?
If moral truth is merely subjective and relative, then justice is in danger. Because it, too, becomes subjective. Unless justice is rooted in a moral authority beyond those with the most power or even the most votes, there cannot be true justice for all.
History provides countless examples of injustice when a powerful minority decided to take undue advantage of the weak, or the majority in a society failed to protect the rights of a minority. Hitler’s atrocities upon the Jews is just one example. Human slavery—which continues as human trafficking today—is another.
Ironically, many blame Christianity for society’s woes. The late Christopher Hitchens, an outspoken atheist, said, “Religion poisons everything.” It breaks my heart when people, in the name of religion, act so unlike Jesus that they cause others to turn from God. God is not to blame here; we are.
To counter Hitchens’ point, if we were to highlight just a few of the positive influences that biblical morality has had on justice and caring for others, we’d have to include the following:
- the high value of human life
- care for the sick in creating hospitals
- literacy and education for the masses
- the elevation of women
- high standards of justice and civil liberties
- benevolence and charity work
Cultural tolerance undermines the authority of scripture, provides no foundation for what is truly virtuous, and offers no real basis for justice. What it does, in a word, is give people the excuse to be all about self.
Thought to Ponder
The misguided notion that all concepts of truth are equal and lead to equality is a myth. Real justice is found in God and our adherence to his word. This week, talk to your youth about God’s truth vs. man’s truth. Use the examples of slavery, human trafficking, racism, and other forms of human oppression. Let us lead our young people to the conclusion that moral values come from a God who is perfectly just and righteous, even when we he asks us to live to a standard higher than society chooses. To die to self, we need the example of Jesus.
This blog post has been adapted from the book The Beauty of Intolerance, by Josh and Sean McDowell. To purchase a copy of this helpful parental resource, please visit our Store page.