Monday, January 14, 2013

Relativism is an idol

I took part in a discussion tonight in which a very earnest young person spoke against relativism, speaking with more emotion than logic.

And then she was asked what "relativism" means and she began her answer by saying, "To me, it means ...."

If you put that into a movie or a novel you'd be accused of being heavy-handed and obvious.

On the way home the Lemon Girl said it was a sign of how pervasive relativism has become. People live it, even the people who think they are most fervently against it. But it's all just a giant time waster. It's the thing people do instead of thinking when they are asked moral questions; "Well, to me it means that ...".

Nowadays, mostly because of the power of Hollywood, the word idol has come to mean things that have power over us. In horror movies, for example, the mask, the statue, or the ancient curse is real and has real power. This notion would have struck the psalmist or Saint Paul as bizarre. For them, the problem with idols was that they were nothing at all.

The danger that went with idolatry then was that you'd waste your entire life on a nothing. And that is the real danger with relativism. The fear is not that you're going to accidentally convince yourself or others that rape, murder or cannibalism are okay. The chances of that are almost non-existent.

No, the danger of relativism is that you will spend your entire moral life doing nothing at all while under the impression that you are doing something.

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