The following post is actually a short essay I wrote for my ethics class recently about why and how secular culture rejects any notion of God’s view of right and wrong.
Check it out:
Culture essentially rejects the way God views right and wrong by adamantly adhering to one predominant, overarching worldview: cultural relativism. Cultural relativism essentially states that moral norms are not objectively standardized, but are instead determined in flux based on the specific situational factors of the culture at a specific time. This secular view rejects any notions of objectivity, absolutism, metanarratives, and standards about reality and the world. Instead, it emphasizes subjectivity and elevates inherent human potential and progress as the existential solution and savior for life as we know it. Therefore, cultural relativism refutes the need for God in society, believing human knowledge and ability can sufficiently run an ideal social structure. In general, cultural relativism operates upon two significant presuppositions about authority and design that ultimately lead to a divergence from biblical ethics. The following essay will analyze these two presuppositions of cultural relativism and will reveal how it causes a culture to reject God’s view of right and wrong.
Firstly, because cultural relativism rejects external objectivity and emphasizes internal subjectivity, the human individual immediately gains authority to determine the difference between right and wrong. This means that at a larger level—like a civil gathering of many human individuals—the consensual agreement by a majority about their own subjective beliefs determines the difference between right and wrong. However, when different individuals or different cultures collide, each entity’s beliefs of right and wrong grate against the others’ beliefs. Of course, a problem with a relativistic moral compass is that anyone can justify his own ‘immorality’ in the viewpoint of another by claiming it was ‘morality’ in their own viewpoint. And unfortunately, the victim cannot argue for his own justice (if he is intellectually honest), because making the perpetrator honor his own subjective rules would be terribly arrogant. Nevertheless, placing moral authority in the subjective hands of any and all individuals creates an exploitative impulse to set morals that only accord with one’s own desires, which may inherently conflict with others’ desires and morals. Indeed, each person likes to be the authoritative arbiter of truth for himself because it justifies actions and alleviates guilt from outside morals that intrinsically conflict with one’s conscious, habits, or lifestyle.
While there are countless examples of this in society, the most extreme case could be Hitler and his pursuit of the Aryan race. Hitler had strong subjective, personal convictions that the Aryan race was the solution to an ideal society. In fact, a majority of the German people supported the cause for the Holocaust. And according to cultural relativism, this societal endeavor can only be defined as morally right. Now, of course, our relativistic culture would respond, but of course, we all know this was morally wrong! But as a culturally relativistic society ourselves, who are we to say that the German culture was objectively wrong? Our own cultural relativism claims there is no objective morality after all. If we are intellectually honest, America can only admit that Hitler’s Aryan cause was wrong for our American culture, but not objectively wrong or even subjectively wrong for their German culture. And the same principle applies in every dimension of morality where cultural relativism is present. No one can tell someone else that their actions are ‘wrong’; they can only state that their actions are wrong to them. Likewise, in a larger social structure, society can claim that someone’s actions are only wrong to society, but not wrong in an ultimate sense. Cultural relativism makes the individual the final arbiter of ethics and truth. Indeed, from a biblical standpoint, making a natural sinner the ultimate determiner of ethics can only mean moral friction amongst both individuals and groups at every level in society.
Secondly, cultural relativism rejects the biblical notion of human design and human nature. Because cultural relativism gives ultimate authority to the individual for determining his existence, he is therefore permitted to establish what is right and wrong for himself. Many ethical issues of culture—such as sexuality, gender, and abortion—all stem from the base presupposition of what we believe about human design. Cultural relativism maintains that humans are the definers of its existence, while Christianity, on the other hand, emphasizes that God is the definer and creator of its existence. Therefore, a relativistic culture can argue that homosexuality is not morally bad, especially if the homosexual finds love, purpose, and satisfaction through a homosexual relationship; additionally, if homosexuality does not violate anyone’s rights, then it should be allowed. In the end, an ultimate sense of love, satisfaction, and purpose is only determined by the individual. So anything goes, and who is government or anybody else for that matter to tell you otherwise? For cultural relativism, what people believe about human design causes a belief in what is right and wrong for human design. It argues that if human design is in flux, then so also is morality related to human design. Christianity rejects notions of fluidity in human design, claiming that all humans were made in the image of God and in complementary genders of male and female.
Overall, the strong tendency of the naturally sinful individual to prefer a relativistic moral framework—which maximally elevates his own authority for determining reality regarding ethics and design—is not at all surprising. Indeed, why wouldn’t a sinful individual who rebelled against God’s lordship not follow the natural impulse for his own lordship? Cultural relativism predominantly pervades American society because it is self-justifying, self-glorifying, and individualistically self-authorizing. Cultural relativism, I believe, principally remains at the heart of how cultural rejects God’s views of right and wrong.