An Epidemic of Intolerance
“I did not have sexual relations with that woman.”
President Bill Clinton struck a serious pose, pounded the podium, and delivered this decoration with the air of a powerful man who is being detained from serving the American people to deal with trivial details.
The trouble was, he was lying. Not only has he had repeated sexual relations with intern Monica Lewinsky, he lied about it under oath, denied it multiple times on camera, and reportedly encouraged others to lie about it under oath.
What was America’s reaction? Lots of people thought it was great that the President of the United States knew how to have a good time. The poor man worked hard and probably deserved a little action on the side, right?
Under intense pressure and facing impeachment hearings, Clinton finally admitted his lie: “Indeed, I did have a relationship with Ms. Lewinsky that was not appropriate. In fact, it was wrong.”
Okay, he said it was wrong. Yet he never seemed all that sorry. Now here’s the worst part of it for me. So many people don’t think he had anything to be sorry for.
Everything’s Relative — Or Is It?
Moral relativism. Know what that is? Moral relativism is a way of looking at the world that says what is right or wrong for you depends on what you think is morally right or wrong. In other words, I everything is relative.
You’ve heard something like this before, haven’t you? “Dude, I know you think that it’s wrong for me to cheat on my girlfriend. Hey, that’s cool. Whatever works for you. But I happen to think there’s nothing wrong with it, you know? So be my friend if you want to. Up to you.”
That’s the problem with moral relativism — everything’s up to you. Bill Clinton is the poster child for moral relativism. He’s charming and smart, and he always lands on his feet. He has enlightened opinions on feminism, the environment, war, and social programs. He’s accepting and tolerant, and he won’t look down on you if you want to break a few rules. Who cares if he lies to the American people and cheats on his wife?
Our former President is a great example of how moral relativism works in our country. If you have politically correct opinions, you can get away with just about anything.
A Tumor on the American Soul
I’m going to play oncologist now and give America an MRI exam. You’re going to see that a malignant mass has spread across our culture.
Where did this disease come from? I’ll explain it in one long, run-on sentence. In the beginning everything was great, but then Christianity came and introduced everybody to guilt, and then cane the Enlightenment (early eighteenth century), which told us that science and technology could solve everything, but that was even worse because it led wars and the exploitation of people and the environment, so a few postmodern philosophers decided we are all free to make our own truth and should quit trying to force everyone to believe what we believe and act like we act.
And so moral relativism was born.
What does this disease — this philosophy called moral relativism — look like? Like a TUMOR. Let me spell it out for you.
In our culture, tolerance is king. We don’t want anybody to feel bad about themselves. Everybody gets to do whatever they want, and we’re cool with it, so long as it doesn’t hurt anybody else. And we get to do whatever we want, too, and it’s nobody’s business but our own.
What I’m really talking about here are alternative lifestyles. Our generation loves alternative voices, alternative music, alternative medicine — anything, in fact, that flies in the face of “the way things have always been.”
It’s not just about offending Mom and Dad, though that’s a big part of it. I think it’s the young person’s attempt to show that he (or she) is not just a clone of his parents, but is a unique person who can think for himself. He’s throwing out all the old ways because somebody said it was cool and would make him feel powerful.
Our culture loves a victim. If you can show that you’ve been picked on, pushed around, inconvenienced, or even slightly embarrassed in gym one day, postmodern wisdom says that you have been pushed to the margins of society. You are a good person deserving of a break (especially if the perpetrator was caught on videotape).
Juvenile delinquents are portrayed as victims of a poor upbringing. The misdeeds of celebrities, athletes, and politicians are quickly forgotten because, after all, they were driven to their sordid behavior by the unreasonable demands of fame and fortune. Look again at Bill Clinton — even after the truth about the Lewinsky affair came out, his supporters never wavered, clamoring he was the victim of a right-wing conspiracy.
Hey, I love the great outdoors, but what we’re talking about here is radical environmentalism. Many of the same people who defend a woman’s right to kill her unborn child would hurl themselves in front of a bulldozer to rescue a near of spotted owl eggs.
This kind of relativistic thinking says that people are the problem. Radical environmentalists believe that humans are to leave the smallest possible footprint on Mother Earth. “Leave the world alone” they say. “If you can’t live in harmony with a fire, then you shouldn’t live here at all.”
Reprobate means “marked by immorality; deviating from what is considered right or proper or good.” Our culture has adopted an “anything goes” morality, a mind of moral whatever-ness. Anytime you run into a rule or a traditional moral standard that would keep you from having your fun, you can just say, “I don’t believe in a fixed right or wrong. I have the right to explore this path for myself. I believe it’s true for me. Try to stop me and I’ll scream that my rights are being violated.”
What a deal! Not only are you allowed to do whatever feels right, the culture will now come to your aid if someone tries to stand in your way. If you break into someone’s house and slip on their floor, you can sue them for thousands of dollars. Get paid for burglary — what a country!
Time for your MRI Exam
Now you know what I mean by TUMOR. But we’re not done with our MRI machine just yet. Let’s point this thing a little closer to home. How are you doing against the onslaught of moral relativism? Are you holding your ground? Or is the same disease taking hold in your life, too?
Again, let’s start with the issue of tolerance. Do you ever find yourself in uncomfortable situations where you keep quite because you don’t want to offend anyone? Are you or the company you’re with so set on being different or independent that you reject anything that confirms to traditional authority?
Now, our MRI should reveal a passion for the marginalized. Jesus Himself has a heart for the outcast and the oppressed. Our God is “father to the fatherless, a defender of widows” (Psalm 68:5). But when you or your church concentrates only on social programs and food for the binder, refusing to pass on the good new of the gospel, then your priorities are out of whack. The YMCA is a good example. The C in its acronym stands for Christian — but I doubt if many of the people who participate in its programs know it.
Then there is the great outdoors. Maybe you’re someone who celebrates “Earth Day.” Or maybe you’ve heard a cry among your friends to become “earth friendly.” Remember the “What Would Jesus Drive?” campaign? Don’t get me wrong: I think nature is fantastic. I’m out there every chance I get. But I also believe that God placed mankind over nature and told us to subdue it (see the first chapter of the first book of the Bible, verse 28). When we as Christians act like we’re not the stewards of nature but rather it’s servants, I start to get upset.
Do you see any sign of your Christian friends being reprobate — that is, living by the world’s anything-goes standards? How about yourself? I’m not asking if you make mistakes. Of course you do. But I turn on the tv and see Catholic priests being arrested on charges of pedophilia. I switch channels and see a televangelist living in luxury but crying for money for his ministry. Then there are pastors preaching on sexual immorality from behind the pulpit yet they are having affairs. We’re not just talking about mistakes here. We’re talking about a deliberate and very unbiblical lifestyle.
The TUMOR Has to Come Out
If an MRI clearly showed a massive growth in your chest sending out cancer cells to every concern of your body, you’d want the thing to come out right? But just like smokers who won’t quit the habitat even when they get lung cancer, our patient doesn’t want to deal with the problem.
I’m talking about America here. About today’s church. And yes, about you and the people you know. Like cancer, moral relativism is a life-threatening problem that won’t go away by itself. The TUMOR has to come out.
I didn’t write this post to fix America. I didn’t even write it to change the church. I wrote this post because moral relativism and Christianity don’t mesh. Have you noticed seeds of this worldly philosophy creeping into your heart? You need to decide if you want to the way of the world or the way of Jesus Christ.
It’s time to get off the fence, and you’ve got to come down on one side or the other.