We have arrived at the dawn of a new era. Many loud voices declare this is an age of equality and justice and enlightenment. "Out with the old ways and in with the new!", they say. But if you listen closely, you will hear a few faint voices under the roar. Those few are the voice of reason trying to drown out the roar of madness. That madness has a name: moral relativism.
Per the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy:
Moral relativism is the view that moral judgments are true or false only relative to some particular standpoint (for instance, that of a culture or a historical period) and that no standpoint is uniquely privileged over all others.
Now I imagine many of you nodded in agreement with what you just read. It's the song we're all used to singing along with these days like the Seven Dwarves whistling off to work. We're so accustomed to singing it we realize neither what we're saying nor its implications.
Let's take a stroll through history, shall we? After all, the best way to understand the present state of things is to take a look at how they got that way in the first place.
Moral relativism is not a new concept by any means, but its widespread acceptance is, if you'll pardon the term, relatively new. It has reared its ugly head before, but has typically been thwarted by a world that understood morality must be clearly defined and has a source greater than man. Behold:
"Everything that I have said and done in these last years is relativism, by intuition. From the fact that all ideologies are of equal value, that all ideologies are mere fictions, the modern relativist infers that everybody has the right to create for himself his own ideology, and to attempt to enforce it with all the energy of which he is capable. If relativism signifies contempt for fixed categories, and men who claim to be the bearers of an objective immortal truth, then there is nothing more relativistic than fascism."
Care to venture a guess who in history said that? Time's up. That quote is from none other than Benito Mussolini. Now if you're a little rusty on your world history you can read up on this swell guy here, but if you're short on time let's point out the two words in that quote which should give you pause: 'enforce' and 'fascism.' Here he is below; you might recognize the man on the right as well.
|"Hitlermusso2 edit". Via Wikipedia|
Thankfully today we still live in a world where (most) people find the actions of Mussolini and friends to be deplorable. Yet what he said then is so in tune with the logic we use to justify innumerable behaviors in our society today, behaviors which were considered immoral and unacceptable not so very long ago. In fact, if you adhere to moral relativism as your standard for judging whether an action is right or wrong, you actually do not have a logical leg to stand on in order to condemn such events as the Holocaust. We'll get to that in just a minute. First let's figure out how we went from defenders of all that is good in the world to a society of apathetic self-worshipers.
Enter the sexual revolution. Everything I've read, watched, listened to, or pondered since returning to the Church has led me to believe that many of the evils we face today have their roots here. Now you don't have to be a math genius to figure out that I didn't live through the sexual revolution, so if any of you reading this did, feel free to add your two cents in the comments. I certainly grew up in the aftermath of it, though, and any decent study of contemporary American history shows us that something definitely went horribly wrong.
Indeed, how could it not? When you take such a profoundly meaningful and, dare I say, spiritual experience which makes the people involved tremendously vulnerable and turn it into nothing more than the satisfaction of a physical urge you turn people into things, a means to an end. I can think of another concept in history that did that : slavery. Now I can debate the evils that resulted from the sexual revolution every day of the week and twice on Sundays, but for the purposes of this discussion, the point I want to make is this: at this point in history we decided to set aside traditional objective morality for the idea that what is right is whatever feels good. Let me leave you with this before we move on:
"Obviously, the strongest and most attractive of the passions is sexual passion. It is therefore also the most addictive and the most blinding. So, there could hardly be a more powerful undermining of our moral knowledge and our moral life than the sexual revolution. Already, the demand for sexual freedom has overridden one of nature's strongest instincts: motherhood. A million mothers a year in America alone pay hired killers, who are called healers or physicians, to kill their own unborn daughters and sons. How could this happen? Only because abortion is driven by sexual motives. For abortion is backup birth control, and birth control is the demand to have sex without having babies. If the stork brought babies, there'd be no Planned Parenthood." Peter Kreeft: "A Refutation of Moral Relativism"
The Logical End of Relativism
What happens when we follow relativism to its logical end? Someone once told me that my faith gives me all the purpose and meaning and black and white lines I need. In a way, he's right except for the fact that he means I believe in it for the purpose of obtaining these things. I believe in my faith because it's true. I know it in my heart as well as my mind and many writers far greater than I'll ever be have proven a thousand times over the logical arguments for the faith. That all goes far beyond the scope of this post, but the irony of my friend's statement is this: we all need purpose and meaning and these things can never be found in the realm of relativism.
Let's start with what relativism rejects: absolute truth. Relativism rejects the idea that there is such a thing as objective morality-a definitive set of rules that we all should live by. The Church teaches us that the laws of God are written on our hearts. We recognize that morality and human rights do not come from man but from God. We also declare that human beings are all beloved children of God, made in His image and as such possess inherent dignity. From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
"Being in the image of God the human individual possesses the dignity of a person, who is not just something, but someone..." - CCC #356
"Because of its common origin the human race forms a unity, for 'from one ancestor [God] made all nations to inhabit the whole earth.'" - CCC #360
"This law of human solidarity and charity, without excluding the rich variety of persons, cultures, and peoples, assures us that all men are truly brethren." - CCC #361
"Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person-among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life." - CCC #2270
Say, that sounds something like:
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness." - Declaration of Independence
So on the one side of the morality coin we have absolute truth: morality and human rights come from God and man does not have authority to change it. On the flip side we have moral relativism which tells us that morality is determined by the individual and therefore changes from person to person, culture to culture, etc. This sounds great, it sounds like freedom, doesn't it?
Society: Nobody can force their morality on us, we make our own rules!
Reality: Wait, who makes the rules?
Society: Man does, we don't need a small and petty god to tell us how to be good!
Reality: Okay, who among you gets to decide what the rules are?
Society: We'll vote to choose our leaders and they'll decide the laws for us.
Reality: And how will they decide that?
Society: They can all say how they feel about stuff and then vote on it.
Reality: So, you want people to write laws based on their feelings? But feelings are fleeting, unstable, and unreliable. And doesn't this all mean you'll just be subject to the morality of your leaders?
Society: Well somebody has to write the rules you know!
Reality: And what will you do if you don't like the rules?
Society: We'll tell them to change it because we don't like it.
Reality: On what grounds, if everything is relative, how can you argue against how somebody else feels?
Society: That's not fair!
Reality: Fair is a relative term. You lose.
Here's the problem, folks. If our laws and rights and morality don't come from God, a higher authority than man, then we have no rights at all. If our human rights are granted by man there is no such thing as inalienable rights!
inalienable: Not capable of being given up or transferred - Webster's II New Riverside Dictionary
If our rights come from man they mean nothing. Anything granted by man can be taken away by man. But that which is granted by God almighty, man has no authority to take away. In the world of moral relativism, rights are determined by those in power and in the end, might makes right. Translated that means the one with the biggest gun wins. This is where monsters like Mussolini are born and it's only when we are holding fast to absolute truth that we have legs and spine to stand up against them. If you're adhering to relativism how can you possibly argue against anything? Sure you can say it's wrong to hurt people. What does it mean to hurt somebody? Hitler thought he was doing a great service to the world. He thought it was for the greater good and who are you to argue? Does it hurt your feelings that he decided to kill people he thought were inferior? Sorry, he and his ilk had different feelings and majority rules you know. This isn't working out like you hoped it would, is it?
If we will simply be honest with ourselves, if we can shake off the fog of our collective delusions we know deep inside that every single one of us has the same voice, the same moral code that comes from somewhere other than silly fleeting feelings. It's the voice that makes us stand up and scream, "This isn't FAIR!" If rape were legalized tomorrow would you throw up your hands and say, "Whelp, majority rules. Who am I to judge?" Of course not because everybody knows rape is wrong and it has nothing to do with a majority vote or what's legal and what's not. Our morality, our human rights are not determined by majority or votes. It's time to wake up, my friends. It's time to open our eyes to the reality of the destruction caused by moral relativism in our society. And that will be the focus of my next post. I leave you with the great G.K. Chesterton, and until next time, may God bless you.
|"The object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid." - G.K. Chesterton|