Much of our modern world espouses the viewpoint that right and wrong is subjective, cultural and personal, so how should believers approach this ideology?
In her book Irreversible Damage, Abigail Shrier describes how her work for the Wall Street Journal started her investigation of the transgender trend gripping our nation.
She wrote, “You’re not supposed to pick favorites among the amendments, because it’s silly, but I have one, and it’s the First. My commitment to free speech led me into the world of transgender politics, through a back door.
“In October 2017, my own state, California, enacted a law that threatened jail time for healthcare workers who refuse to use patients’ requested gender pronouns. New York had adopted a similar law, which applied to employers, landlords, and business owners. Both laws are facially and thoroughly unconstitutional. The First Amendment has long protected the right to say unpopular things without government interference. It also guarantees our right to refuse to say things the government wants said.
“This isn’t a matter of constitutional nuance; it’s remarkably straightforward. In West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette (1943), the Supreme Court upheld students’ right not to salute an American flag. Writing for the majority, Justice Robert H. Jackson declared, ‘If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.’
“If the government can’t force students to salute a flag, the government can’t force a healthcare worker to utter a particular pronoun. In America, the government can’t make people say things — not even for the sake of politeness. Not for any reason at all.”
The World’s Three Ultimate ‘Truths’
Abigail Shrier is one of the few, but growing, number of liberals voicing increasing concern over progressive, politically correct, cancel culture. When everyone’s truth is an equally valid truth, then inevitably, these truths will clash, often violently and with heavy relational casualties.
Mental health and very necessary human relationships seem more and more undermined in this current era of relative truth. The story of how we all ended up here is a much longer tale — starting with the Enlightenment movement, Romanticism and Humanism — but what we have been left with is three fundamental areas where truth must be found if God is out of the picture.
Science – Logic and empirical evidence are all that defines reality if there is no divine creator or supernatural realm (or one that only has minimal effect on the ‘real world.’)
Experience – Emotions and personal history become the Bible which guides individuals through difficult life choices and helps protect them from the pain of criticism or personal attack.
Culture – Whenever our enlightened society collectively decides something is right or wrong, then that’s the truth…for the moment.
Each one of these is trumped by the next in terms of authority. Science, in its dry and unaesthetic way, is forced to bow to personal experience, which in turn must give way to popular culture’s dictates.
If it were not already patently obvious how precarious this system of values is, Douglas Murray, journalist and author of The Madness of Crowds, explains, “For while racial equality, minority rights and women’s rights are among the best products of liberalism, they make the most destabilizing foundations. Attempting to make the foundation is like turning a bar stool upside down and then trying to balance on top of it. The products of the system cannot reproduce the stability of the system that produced them.
“If for no other reason than that each of these issues is a deeply unstable component in itself. We present each as agreed upon and settled. Yet while the endless contradictions, fabrications and fantasies within each are visible to all, identifying them is not just discouraged but literally policed. And so we are asked to agree to things which we cannot believe….
“Worse is that we have begun trying to reorder our societies not in line with facts we know from science but based on political falsehoods pushed by activists in the social sciences.”
Thus we find ourselves faced with paradoxes, such as biology behind gender being discarded in favor of emotional experience, but only so long as that experience is in line with popular progressive culture.
The emperor has no clothes, and yet the crowd continues to cheer.
Is Jesus as the Truth Enough?
Over 2,000 years ago, a man stepped out into the world and issued a radical statement, saying, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6, ESV). He was either a gibbering madman or exactly who he claimed to be: God. There are no alternatives. The red pill or the blue pill, Neo.
Jesus didn’t leave us to choose based on blind hope, either.
Michael Ramsden, president of Ravi Zacharias International Ministry, wrote, “The idea that faith is belief in something in the absence of evidence (or contrary to evidence) is a definition that goes against 2000 years of Christian thought….
“Fantasy (or believing in a ‘fantasm’) is something that can only be seen with the imagination’s eye. It is like if I talk about a unicorn. You can visualise one in your head, but you can’t see it with the physical eye. But faith is not fantasy. The word faith, as used in the Bible, is always in response to something that is true and real.
“In other words, we use it in the same manner as if I were to say, ‘I have faith in you as a group’. I am saying: (1) that you exist (even if I don’t want you to); and (2) that you are trustworthy (I can rely on you – you are dependable and you keep your promises).
“This is the sense in which the Bible talks about God, knowing he is (not hoping, wishing or thinking it), and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him (Hebrews 11:6). That is a statement about his truthfulness. A few verses earlier it says, ‘faith is being certain [fully persuaded] as to things that are not seen’, it is talking about a total assurance in something that is real.”
If God is real, perfect and the truth, then a standard of right and wrong exists. We may follow it or run afoul of it, but it is present and demands our attention.
Perhaps even more importantly, these rules were issued from God in accordance to his own guidelines, and we were not consulted in the matter. We don’t get to suggest amendments or demand exceptions, and that can be a tough pill to swallow because it implicitly states that we’re not capable of making good or healthy rules for how the world should be run.
Claiming such an untouchable and exclusive truth in this post-modern world is quickly becoming the best way to be pilloried by the general public, yet it is what gives believers ballast in the middle of the world’s chaotic clamor and upheaval.
Truth Demanding to Be Heard
Despite the Bible’s ironclad truth, many believers functionally operate by the post-modern system of relative truths. Science trumps the Bible (rather than being informed by it), and personal experience overshadows both godly truths and scientific research, and social climate lords its authority over all.
This mentality inevitably leads to editing God’s Word, whether we’re conscious of doing so or not.
David Wilkerson wrote and preached with great apprehension over this very topic. “What concerns me the most is that this generation of strange children refuse all correction. They do not tremble at God's Word. They simply whitewash the name of Jesus over all their sins.
“Reproof is totally rejected — they are becoming hardened in their own ways — and they are drawn to a pastor or teacher who glosses over their compromise. ‘An appalling and horrible thing has happened in the land: The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule on their own authority; and my people love it so! But what will you do at the end of it?’ (Jeremiah 5:30,31).”
He concludes, “Truth, when sought and embraced, sets one free. Totally free! But when the demands of truth are ignored, the heart finally becomes hard as flint and God must ‘turn them over’ to their lusts…. There is no greater judgment on earth!”
Security is absent from ‘progressive’ truth, be it ever so appealing and approved by the loudest cultural voices. In fact, great danger lies out on those tumultuous seas where we lose sight of God and what is right or wrong.