I brought up last week the significance of truth and its importance. Seems that in our generation, truth has been trampled and replaced with relativism. That is when you hear people talk about “your truth” and “my truth.” Somewhere along the way we neglected to remember that truth is an absolute!
TRUTH (n) conformity to fact or reality, true state of facts or things, purity from falsehood. Webster’s Dictionary (1828).
There’s no subjectivity to truth. It is what it is.
When I was in seminary, I remember touching on this idea about postmodernism and relative truth. I remember marveling at how ironic and paradoxical it was to have a term like “relative truth!” The two words are mutually exclusive. Relativism means there’s no objective standard by which to measure something, you just compare something to something else. The moment you change what you compare it to, the whole measurement changes. It’s impossible to have something called “relative truth.”
However, what happened next astounded me.
I began to see posts on social media and stories shared by others which told me that beauty was in the eye of the beholder, the standard known as truth was eroding. Once you lose your solid foundation, and anything goes, things start a steady slide downhill. And look where we are now! Anything goes. Standards are held for some, but not for others. In other words, “some are more equal than others” (Animal Farm). Can you look around and see that? Are there areas in your life where you can see that? Where are they? What tells you that there is a double standard?
Any time there is a double standard, there’s probably a problem with truth. These topics are going to bleed into each other. When there’s a double standard, there’s confusion on what we’re working with. We think things are one way, to find that they’re the other way. That shifty footing is tough! What is acceptable? What is right? What’s your standard? What’s mine? What happens when we interact, and our standards are different? What happens when we interact, and our understanding of reality is different?
We see that danger play out in our society! We’ve seen people get canceled, we’ve seen families and marriages break up, we’ve seen friendships end, all because one “truth” is right for one individual, and another “truth” is right for another.
You know what verse I just thought of, though?
“In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” Judges 21:25
This phrase occurs twice in the Book of Judges in the Old Testament. In these days, the Israelites had made it under Moses’s and then Joshua’s leadership. They had had several judges in place over them, and several times in this recorded history there is “no king in Israel.” What could kings be good for? Issuing edicts, ensuring laws are administered equally. However, there was NO king, and everyone had their own standard. Their own truth if you will. And things were dicey. In Judges 21:25, the VERY next verse is the first verse of the book of Ruth, in which we see that there was a famine in the land. If we took away endings of books, the famine would follow everyone doing what was right in their own eyes. It's unclear without a little study how close these timeframes are to each other. However, poetically, it’s interesting how the result of “everyone doing right in his own eyes” is famine and exile! We also see in Ruth 1 that Elimelech and his family are exiled out of Bethlehem (the future place of Christ’s birth) to Moab, the location of horrific practices, the antithesis of Christ and everything He is about. See Ruth 1:2 for reference!
So, now we can see how relativism really undoes the fabric of a society. That’s where we go next. If we have no plumb line, anything goes. When we have devolved to a society that doesn’t notice the effects on others, it’s easy to have tunnel vision and miss the larger effects of relativism.
However, as we see from Scripture, we can infer that “everyone doing right in his (or her) own eyes” leads to demise and unraveling of a society at large. So, relativism, or the absence of truth, contributes to the demise of large swaths of people. This demise contributes to catastrophic loss of life and damage.
We NEED a plumb line! We NEED truth. We need a standard. We need good versus bad, right versus wrong, left versus right, up versus down. You can’t leave them to be inverted. I’m thinking of another Bible verse; Isaiah 5:20, “They say that what is right is wrong and what is wrong is right; that black is white and white is black; bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter.” Sometime we’ll talk about sources, worldview, and the other inputs that lead to defining morality and truth, so we have a standard. I just did a quick search and the article that stood out to me said, “why right and wrong don’t exist.” Funnily, I see those absolute arguments against relativism all the time!!! Isn’t that hysterical? “There’s absolutely no such thing as ‘right’ and ‘wrong!’”