Are We Even Sure What Truth Is?

People who try to be Christ-like in a world that despises Christ face a never-ending challenge. The first challenge is that secular thinkers reject the idea of anything spiritual. They only believe in things science can probe – weigh, measure, count, and so forth. This attitude means that the idea of a spirit, holy or otherwise, is anathema to them. They make fun of Christians for having imaginary friends. They believe that prayer is talking to one’s self. They think that Christians hear voices in their heads.

The second challenge is that secular thinkers want people who believe in any religion to keep their religion inside their houses of worship. Secularists do not want to see anything in the public forum if it is even vaguely related to a spiritual idea. They believe it is abusive for Christians to live their faith or speak of their faith in public. This attitude leads them to object to displays of things like the Ten Commandments or a manger scene in public. This is why they don’t want Christians praying at public events such as football games or graduation exercises.

The third problem is probably the most difficult to face with a Christ-like spirit. It is the scorn. It is one thing to need to put into words an explanation of your reasons for faith in God. It is quite another to be told that you are irrelevant, deluded and silly because of your faith.

Despite all these issues, Christians in the USA have always believed that the norm in public discourse is for all participants to speak with respectful courtesy to one another, and even about one another. This is the attitude at the heart of debate societies. Young people are educated to recognize that there are many points of view and all are welcome to the table. In discussions of public policy, Muslims may explain why they believe sharia is valid for domestic disagreements in Muslim families, atheists may explain why the law must be completely neutral with no preference for any religious view, and Christians may advocate for the culture to accept the moral value of life even if it rejects Christian definition.

However, public discourse is increasingly taking on a new flavor.  Polite respect for all viewpoints is processed through a flattening lens, the lens that says that truth is always relative. There is a mounting cultural unwillingness to allow anyone to believe that any truth might be absolute. Truth is only what seems like truth to any given individual, and people who want to engage in the conversation must not assert anything as absolute truth.

For example, Christians who believe the Bible is God’s revealed guide for faith and life, believe that the Bible teaches non-negotiable truth. The truth that life is sacred is not a negotiable truth. The truth that homosexuality is sin is not negotiable.

Secular thinkers who hold the view that all truth is relative believe that life has value relative to certain other values; a fetus may be technically “alive” but the life of the fetus has a lesser value than the life of the adult woman who is, relatively speaking, the “host” to the fetus. When weighing the relative values, things such as the “host” woman’s preferences and convenience are all part of the value of her life, and if the fetus has negative value in that context, the fetus may be discarded with no compunctions. Pure relativists and pure absolutists cannot easily discuss any issue.

Secular thinkers who say that truth is what makes a person happy, and that “happy” means whatever that person says it means, readily advocate for homosexual couples to marry and acquire children by adoptions, while Christians living by the absolute truth that homosexuality is sin cannot even imagine placing children in a household headed by a homosexual couple.

The change of tone in public discourse has already manifested itself in an internal DOJ document titled: “LGBT Inclusion at Work: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Managers.” It was emailed to DOJ managers in advance of “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month.” It contained the guidelines for showing respect to the LGBT community during their “pride” month. Among other directives, employees were told, “Don’t judge or remain silent. Silence will be interpreted as disapproval.” This statement is the voice of a demand that everyone acknowledge that truth is relative to the individual. If it is true for you, then I am obligated to accept it as your truth. I have no right to my opinion or even to my religious convictions, if my convictions reject your truth.

The problem with this way of talking about truth is that unless everybody agrees to a definition for “truth” along with all the other definitions needed for any discussion of differences, no disagreement can ever be concluded. A discussion which excludes revealed truth by definition cannot invite Christians (or Muslims, either) to the table. If they don’t come to the table, no “resolution” of cultural differences can ever be achieved.

This is a new sort of truth. This is a new definition for “tolerance,” a definition that is as unlike most people’s understanding of the word as “gay marriage” is unlike most people’s understanding of marriage. Christians must be aware of this new development in the public forum. If people do not push back against this way of thinking, then people who advocate this view will be able to appropriate the language of tolerance and use it to completely suppress Christian views or any other religious view based on absolute revealed truth. That would be the end of religious liberty in the USA.