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Cost of Relativism

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David Brooks recently wrote in the New York Times about “The Cost of Relativism.” Although he didn’t intend it, his op-ed makes a convincing case for why we need Christian values in society.

He was talking about a new book by Robert Putnam that describes the growing chasm between those who live in college-educated America and those who live in high-school educated America. He then tells some sad stories of children in broken homes and people living in violent neighborhoods. He concludes that it is “not only money and better policy that are missing in these circles: its norms.”

He says we need to reintroduce norms, but that will require a moral vocabulary. These norms weren’t destroyed, he says, by people with bad values but by the “plague of nonjugmentalism.” That is certainly true in our world today. Most people in our secular society reject the idea of moral absolutes. They certainly reject biblical absolutes. Thus, they cannot say that something is right or wrong. It all becomes a matter of personal preferences.

David Brooks goes on to say that introducing norms will also require holding people responsible. Good luck with that in our current society. Here’s a test. Find a group of people and say something like “abortion is wrong” or “same-sex marriage is wrong.” You will most likely hear a question like, “who are you to say that?” Or you might hear a statement like, “that’s very intolerant of you.”

This is the legacy of a world that has embraced moral relativism and has rejected moral and biblical absolutes. This is the legacy of a society that accepts nonjudgementalism and refuses to condemn bad behavior.

David Brooks has hope that we will have a moral revival that will reinstitute moral norms in society. He cites a few examples of this happening in the past. I could add many more to his list and mention that nearly all of them came from a Christian revival, reformation or awakening. Yes, we need moral norms in society, and Christianity is where we will find them.

Viewpoints by Kerby Anderson

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