27 February 2005

Relativism -vs- Moralism

We are now faced with deep lines drawn in the sand here (right-left / Christian-secular / conservative-liberal / moralist-relativist).

The modern tendency is to avoid firm and definitive statements of values. Now, that is a prime example of the type of statement that gets me into trouble regularly. This is typically when the conservative Christian will expound "You see? There exists a global decay of our value system, and we have been hijacked by evil" Interesting, considering the church (right, conservative, moralist) has probably done more than any to help usher in modern secularism. Just imagine a first-century Christian hearing an average "testimony" in a modern church. Here is someone who has been imprisoned for believing that Jesus Christ is the only Savior and King. He may also be fed to lions or turned into a lamp for Nero's garden. And this first-century believer is witnessing a zealous and well-meaning brother or sister say something along these lines: "Since Jesus came into my heart, it's been one blessing after another. I got a new job and I've claimed prosperity and healing in all areas of my life. It fixed my marriage and made me feel good about myself for the first time in my life. So what do you have to lose? Try God! Give Jesus a chance! He'll turn your scars into stars and your sorrows into stepping stones." How do you think your first-century Christian friend would react to such a display of uniquely American religious fervor?

Ok, I have gone on and on here. But my point, (and I do have one) is that there has not been some sort of American demise into relativism. The pragmatist or relativist will apply a same and sound moral structure to current conditions and circumstances then make a value judgment. While the moralist will apply the same moral judgment, regardless of the conditions or circumstances. Are there moral absolutes? And if there are, who is qualified to determine what they are? Are we handed our moral absolutes? (allowing the powers that be to legislate them) Or are they to be deeply personal decisions?

I practice relativism because it is my natural proclivity but also because although the moralist's rule book is clear, (however, not always user friendly) and the user does not have to worry about applying any of that bothersome independent thought, and the rule book is lovely and bound in gold....This relativist believes firmly that any theory of human values or principles must show its value in practice as well as having explanatory power in theory.


Anonymous said...

Although you probably couldn't care less, I wanted to say that I agree with you, for the most part, and that I wrote something somewhat related to your post at Absolute Truth is Neither.


Sapphoria / Megan said...

Oh I care a great deal. I am so grateful that you shared the piece you wrote on this subject. I visited the article and am now going thru your blog and find it fascinating. I plan on reading more of it this evening and visiting often. I think I would also like to add it to my "Must See Blog" links.

Thank you Bill


stillwaters said...

I came here through blogexplosion. I agree with you. Take a look at my philosophical musings at Christianity is Anarchism.

I'm not really into Christianity despite my Protestant roots, because I find the entire religious right to be secular, hypocritical, and blasphemous.

Ken Grandlund said...

nice post- however I would say that some moral elements have been adopted universally, and that although they have roots within the major theologies of the day, they still reflect universal moral dictates: no murder, no rape, no theft. Of course, their usefulness has been borne out by relativism too, so I guess that is where they make the transcendance.
thanks for the thoughts.

Sapphoria / Megan said...

stillwaters - first let me thank you for letting me know how you found me. Blogexplosion has been just great! Thanks also for the link to your article. It expands quite a bit on these thoughts and theories and is written exceptionally well.


Sapphoria / Megan said...

Hello Ken...

Odd that you commented here Sunday and I had just visited your site for the first time on Saturday: http://4commonsensenow.blogspot.com/ Reading thru your blog painted such a clear picture of how you approach a thought or idea. I like the way you think.

Thank you for your comments here. Yes there are those universally accepted moral dictates. I wonder though...are these our moral absolutes because they are so long accepted or because they have a theological foundation? There exists such a religious divergence today. And that religious plurality is being felt more and more. I believe that is why we now have such moral dilemmas. The Christians feel they hold the rulebook on morality in a society that runs the gamut on religious dictates. So...if morality is faith driven there are many, many rulebooks.

Ken Grandlund said...

thanks for the compliment. I try to approach "big ideas" without any bias other than that which makes sense. Forced ideology is really no ideology at all, in my opinion. Looking at things from a standpoint of what is best for an individual and balancing that with what is necessary for a smoothly functioning society is what I strive for.
I'll drop by again, and I hope that you do the same.

Anonymous said...

My question is this: why are gays and lezbos trying to force their ways onto the majority of the public who by a huge majority, considers it wrong and immoral if not outright sinful?

Is it against the law to be gay? NO. Marriage is between a man and a woman because that's the way it is supposed to be. The parts fit and reproduction is possible. It is NOT possible for 2 woman or 2 men to reproduce physically on their own. Meaning that is it wrong and immoral and goes against common sense.

Notice that the word "hate" is nowhere to be found. Most that are against the gay lifestyle are not haters of gays as people. What most people are against is the sinfulness of what is clearly wrong by a minority attempting to corrupt society and long held traditional values, all for their own selfish desires in an effort to feel normal.

And let's be honest, the gay life is not normal and that is why is has so many problems. Being Gay is just as much a choice as is what clothes you're going to wear, or not.

Rationalizing it away as "i was born this way" or because it "feels good" or whatever... only leads to misery, emptiness, and continual self-doubt because it is based on wickedness fighting the good that everyone was truly born with.

That is where prayer comes in. Jesus defeated evil by dying for us. He is the only way to keep us from it, but he must be found first, and to find him you must seek him.

Ask for guidance and it shall be freely given, not relatively!

Take care.

Beautiful Belgian Babe said...

Hi Megan,
I can't say I entirely agree with your conclusion, but your introductory paragraph really resonated with me. I'm troubled by this too, as a Christian. Sometime when I'm not so busy with trying to help Terri out, I might use that paragraph in a future essay. I'm looking forward to spending more time reading your blog. I know we won't agree on everything, but we'll be able to have some real honest conversation and truly exchange ideas--make each other think.

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