— By REV. LOU TISCIONE
What happened to our culture? Why is reality ignored? Where are those who are able to think critically about issues without being offended?
The current situation with our government has caused me to think through the issue of our cultural decline. What are the reasons for our confusion and division within various institutions?
What is happening to our western culture?
Our current events seem more like a fictional story than reality. It seems we are being led by men and women who continue to deny reality. There are no principles by which decisions are being made. It’s like the end of the book of Judges where everyone did what was right in their own eyes. Our leaders feel proud to say that they are doing what they think is right.
I continue to look for government officials to promise to do what is right, not what they think is right. Judges 21:25b: “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” is contrasted by Micah 6:8: “… do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with your God.” One action reflects relativism while Micah called for submission to the ultimate absolute, God.
Our relativistic culture has taken decades to build. It will take a concerted and ongoing effort to reverse cultural relativism.
A symptom of our cultural decay into moral relativism is the impossibility of opposing parties to negotiate. People wonder why leaders can’t sit down together and come up with solutions to the problems we face in our country?
Since in a morally relative culture there are no absolutes, efforts to negotiate over any issue are ineffective. Each side is motivated by different principles. If there are any who hold to moral absolutes, they are marginalized and ignored. We are told that thinking there are moral absolutes is pejorative and mean-spirited. But in their absence negotiations and compromise fail.
Another symptom of cultural decline is the understanding of what is virtuous. Tolerance has become the primary virtue in society. Now tolerance is defined as accepting every position as equally valid. Compromise now includes setting aside principles. The reality is that every view of or position taken on the same issue is not equally valid.
Tolerance previously meant respecting those who have differing points of view. Previously one would never compromise on principles but would negotiate on non-essential details. Principles on which any position is based are never to be compromised because genuine principles are grounded in absolutes.
For example, we have been told that borrowing more money doesn’t mean increasing debt, and this logical inconsistency is believed. Some leaders tell us that man can define marriage any way he wants and a baby is not a baby until he or she is born. Some say that a child has no right to life as long as he or she is in the mother’s womb.
Mainline Christian denominations maintain that the Bible is man’s word about God when God has declared that He has spoken to man. Those same churches maintain that men are not accountable before God to be spiritual leaders; that men and women are not only equal but the same. These days no one seems to ask what the Protestant Reformers asked: “What saith the Scriptures?”
I’m sure you could continue this listing of the effects of moral relativism in our society. We continue to experience great frustration in this new relativistic culture. The answer to the question, “What happened?” is … we happened. We who know better have allowed a vocal minority to aggressively change our culture. We allowed prayer to be removed from our schools. We removed any discussion of God from our educational institutions. We continue to elect politicians who don’t know or refuse to do what is right. We elect men and women who make promises to give us something in return for our vote. Our culture has stopped doing justice, loving mercy and acknowledging a sovereign God.
Some have written on this subject and concluded that the trend is irreversible. I am more hopeful.
I believe that what has taken decades to accomplish will take a long time to reverse. But by God’s grace and mercy reversal is possible. We who believe in moral absolutes revealed by a sovereign God are called by Him to live our beliefs in all facets of life.
Lou Tiscione is pastor at Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA).