NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–The national news media were genuinely perplexed by the number of people who really did care about moral values when they went to the polls on Nov. 2. The commentators noted that voters in those states “tended to vote red.”
One network, in describing the expanse of “red,” or Republican-voting states between the two coasts, called the area “the flyover” states. The implication is, of course, that if you work in the media centers of New York or Los Angeles you fly over those states because there is nothing in between worth stopping for.
Before you tune me out, know that this is not a column about George W. Bush or John Kerry, or liberal vs. conservative perspectives. I, like most of you, have had my fill of the election season. This column goes beyond such political qualifiers to discuss a deeper issue: absolute truths in a relative world.
The national media see those people who voted based on their values as emerging from their caves to retard the social progression of our culture by imposing their personal moral opinions on a nation. The commentators — and a large segment of our society — equate moral values with personal opinion. In fact, in response to the question, “What does ethical mean to you?” 50 percent of the business leaders surveyed for a Harvard Business Review study responded: “what my feelings tell me is right.” Twenty-five percent answered whatever was in accordance to their religious beliefs and another 18 percent said whatever conforms to the golden rule.
In a nationwide survey, another researcher recorded that 64 percent of all adults in America say truth is merely personal opinion; the number rises to 83 percent among teenagers. Interestingly, more than 80 percent of our population claims to be Christian. That means there is a percentage of Christians who also believe truth and morality are nothing more than what we as individuals believe them to be.
Karl Marx, Charles Darwin, Immanuel Kant, David Hume, John Locke and other humanist philosophers have duped our society into believing that “religion” is a personal matter and makes no valid contribution to our world beyond the individual. This contemporary issue burns white-hot because of how faith guides such public figures as President Bush, former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore and others. Moral values are ultimately at the foundation of why amendments prohibiting same-sex “marriage” were overwhelmingly passed in 11 states on Nov. 2.
These philosophers rejected theology — once considered the queen of the sciences — and elevated science as the discipline by which we determine truth. If it can’t be proven empirically through scientific testing, it can’t be known, they say. (Ironically, scientific testing is invalidating evolution with each passing year and pointing more concretely to a central Creator, but those perspectives are conveniently kept from the general public.) Since values and morals can’t be absolutely proven through testing, they say, values and morals are relative: Whatever you think is wrong governs you while my idea of right and wrong may be different. Humanity believes it has pushed God from His throne and taken its rightful place at the center of our existence.
It is delusional thinking. For instance, I may have so passionately supported John Kerry for president that I just as passionately refuse to believe or acknowledge that George Bush is actually the president. I may call John Kerry “President Kerry” and I may come to the point that I sincerely believe in my heart that he is president. But it is historically and factually inaccurate.
The same is true of God and moral absolutes. Individuals may passionately deny God’s prescribed absolutes but it doesn’t make God or the absolutes any less factual; it simply makes them unrecognized by the individual.
Now this is also not a column bashing contemporary Western culture. We cannot fault our culture for acting exactly as the Bible describes the fallen world as acting. It is really more indicting of Christians. We failed to adequately respond 300 years ago when first confronted with humanistic philosophy and we failed again at places like Dayton, Tenn., when creationism went on trial versus evolution.
You as a Christian may be asking, “What does all this have to do with me?” This election is shining the spotlight on us again, and we again have the opportunity to intellectually engage our culture. It is an opportunity to present information that allows people to explore the evidence for themselves. Those who do will find that the study leads to the historically documented resurrection of Jesus Christ. After all, He is the Way, Truth and Life. This is a chance to move ourselves and others from an emotional response to the Gospel to having “proof of what is not seen” (Hebrews 11:1, HCSB).
So, where do you start? Spend a little time on the Internet exploring such sites as LifeWay Christian Resources apologetics (www.lifeway.com/apologetics), the Ethics & Religious Liberties Commission (www.erlc.com), the C.S. Lewis Society’s Apologetics.org (www.apologetics.org) and “Stand to Reason” of the Christian Apologetics Organization (www.str.org). Each of these sites has a bank of solid articles related to the moral values issues being raised in our culture today.
Next, turn off the faux world created by Hollywood producers and engage your mind with something real. Yes, it takes some discipline but pick up books by Blaise Paschal, Adoniram Judson, John Wesley, C.S. Lewis, John Stott and others who will stretch your mind and help you more deeply understand why you believe in Jesus.
Finally, we must verbally engage the culture. Lifestyle evangelism is wholly ineffective. It doesn’t provide observers with the understanding they need to make an informed decision about faith. We have every reason to be confident that the claims God makes through the Bible can withstand the most rigorous of objective scrutiny by physics, archeology, history, biology — any discipline. (However, it is important to understand that these disciplines do not validate God’s existence; they simply help us discover Him, for it is because of His creation that these disciplines exist.)
The pundits say moral values are unwelcome political issues that have no place in today’s culture beyond being personal preferences, but God authored moral values and has never changed them. That’s why absolute truth is possible in a relative world and must be active in the arena of our cultural discussions.
James T. Draper Jr. is president of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.