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The Dangers of Relativism

Lead me in Your truth and teach me.
—Psalm 25:5

In our culture, the greatest sin is the claim to be right about anything. What difference does relativism make in your life? Let me point out three ways that relativism–the rejection of absolute truth–impacts your life.

First, relativism encourages immorality. After all, if there are no absolute truths, then why shouldn’t all sexual activity be permitted? Who is to say that raping a child is wrong? You might respond that a society constructs its beliefs about truth, and our society has determined that forcing a child to have sex is wrong. Well, that may be true right now, but if there are no absolute truths, why couldn’t society change its opinion about pedophilia? It was only about 40 years ago that the American Psychological Association labeled homosexuality as a psychological aberration. What if 40 years from now we change our attitude about sex with children? What if people say, “We have discovered that pedophiles don’t choose to be pedophiles; they are born that way. Why should pedophiles live in shame and hide their sexuality? Why shouldn’t pedophiles be free to express themselves and enjoy happiness like everyone else?” You might think that is preposterous. But in a world where there are no absolutes, anything is permissible.

Second, relativism discourages evangelism. I was watching a popular talk show and the topic was, “Is there only one way to heaven?” The crowd insisted that it was narrow-minded and bigoted to say there is only one way to heaven. Then one lady raised her hand and said, “My Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, says that He is the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Him. He is the only way to heaven.” And the talk show host, in a condescending tone, said, “If you believe that, that’s fine. But you have no right to coerce me to believe like you believe.” The implication was that when you voice an absolute statement, you are coercing other people. In other words, it is hate speech to imply that truth is narrow and there is only one application.

This leads to the third danger of relativism, which is this: relativism promotes persecution. In a society that rejects absolute truth, the only vice that cannot be tolerated is intolerance. The greatest virtue today is tolerance—being open to every belief. That’s why when you claim that Jesus is the only way to be saved, or homosexuality is a perversion, you are met with such opposition. The relativist says you are implying that a Hindu or a homosexual is inferior and that is hate speech; therefore, your speech must be silenced. Yet as Christians, we must not be silent when it comes to sharing God’s truth.

Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Wimp-Free Christianity” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2008.

Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.


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