The Problem With Culturally Defined Truth

A few things that were once considered culturally acceptable by various groups:

  • Slavery
  • The Crusades
  • Killing infants by exposure (leaving them to die)
  • Murdering Jews
  • Segregation

The list could go a lot further than that but the point is, at some point in time there were large groups of people found these things socially and morally acceptable. If you are going to take moral relativism to its ultimate end you would have to contend that all these things, even though they are detestable behaviors to us, were perfectly morally acceptable to them because what is true for us may not have been true for them. At the end of the day subjective truth fails. It is possible to be fully convinced of something and be wrong. That is easier to see in others from past decades and centuries than it is to see in ourselves.

We have our own list of things today that are viewed as socially acceptable, “our truth”, that hopefully one day people will look back on and see as barbaric practices. Abortion is #1 on that list. Can you imagine some kid 200 years from now asking his dad if Americans really did kill 45 million of their own babies (dwarfing the 11-17 million killed in the holocaust). Not just murderous, hate-filled people…but every day folks just like you and I giving permission for their babies to be killed before they were born. But if moral relativism prevails we just continue to delude ourselves into thinking bad is good and good is bad.

Culturally defined, subjective truth, just doesn’t work out in the real world. I understand why people find it so appealing but the reality is in the end it will fail to do a better job than the objective truth it set out to replace.


UnChristian – Two Disturbing Trends Among Young Adults in the Church

There is a chart in Kinnaman’s book, unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity… and Why It Matters, that just about took my breath away. The chart is a comparison of those age 23-41 and those over 42 regarding morally acceptable behavior. Here is some of the data from the chart on page 53. The percentages below reflect the percent of people saying something is morally acceptable:

  • Cohabitation: Ages 23-41 = 59%; Ages 42+ = 33%
  • Gambling: Ages 23-41 = 58%; Ages 42+ = 38%
  • Sexual thoughts/fantasies about someone: Ages 23-41 = 57%; Ages 42+ = 35%
  • Sex outside marriage: Ages 23-41 = 44%; Ages 42+ = 23%
  • Pornography: Ages 23-41 = 33%; Ages 42+ = 19%

These are just a few numbers from a larger chart. There are a couple of disturbing trends that we might be able to surmise from this information. The first is obvious, Christian young adults are significantly more open to several forms of immorality (also including homosexuality, drug use, and profanity), than older Christians.

Second, notice the progression in order of Most acceptable to Least acceptable: Cohabitation — Sexual fantasies about someone — Sex outside of marriage — Pornography

  • What would account for such a large discrepancy between cohabitation and sex outside of marriage when those are basically the same thing?
  • What would account for thinking pornography is less acceptable than actually having sex with someone you aren’t married to?
  • What would make sense of being more okay with sexual fantasies about someone than viewing pornography?

In each of these instances relationship might be the difference maker. Saying you are willing to live with someone is perceived as expressing more about a relationship than just sleeping with someone. Fantasizing about someone you know is seen as more acceptable than viewing images of people you don’t. The more relational immorality becomes the more acceptable it becomes. People seek connection. Connection and relationship can be the building blocks of a strong faith or they can be the very thing that leads someone to compromise the core beliefs of their faith. That’s my gut feeling on these numbers. What are your thoughts?