Desires in a Relativist’s World
Have you ever had a crazy desire? What would you do if you woke one morning and wanted to be a married-bachelor.
We all have desires, some admirable and some silly like being a married bachelor. We filter through our desires moment by moment and we prioritize them. Some we put at the top of our list and others we discard as a nuisance, dangerous, or impossible. It is impossible to be a married-bachelor. You knew that didn’t you. I don’t have to tell you that. I don’t have to convince you that the two states of being are incompatible. Some things are intuitively obvious. They require no proof, in fact no proof exists. They are simply necessarily so. Two plus two is four we state with no proof, there is none. Yes we can manipulate set theory to support our conclusion, but that manipulation rests on the necessary properties of numbers and the necessary rules we use to count. There is no proof of necessary things, they simply exist and are universally true.
When a desire comes along that defies what is necessarily true, and when you give in to that desire, problems ensue. We don’t go around thinking of a world in which every desire we have is a good one. We test those desires against what is objectively and necessarily true. We often learn what is necessarily true by experiencing the harmful effects of our bad desires when we act them out. My desires do not change what is real. What is objectively true and necessary modifies my desires. If that doesn’t happen in a person’s life, we declare that person mentally ill, or we label them criminals.
When something is intuitively true in all times and all places, we have discovered something outside ourselves. I would guess that there are very few people groups that cannot count. There are few people in the world who would not know intuitively that if his neighbor had two cows and he had one, his neighbor would be tangibly richer than he was. We live in a sea of objective, necessary things. It makes life possible. The basic things of life work according to intuitively understood principles. Our grandson is learning to walk and at the same time learning something about gravity. He can’t name gravity yet, but it is a reality to him.
How often have you heard the name Jesus used by politicians to support their "moral" position. They are looking for cover, something outside themselves to support their personal moral view. They know intuitively that their moral opinion is nothing more than opinion. It has no standing greater than any other person’s opinion, so they borrow the moral standing of Jesus to boost their position. In doing so they put words in the mouth of our Lord in ways that He would never approve. On moral issues we look outside ourselves for lasting and meaningful answers.
We live today in a world filled with moral outrage."I want my safe place." "Can’t we all get along?" "That is not who we are as a people." "You must be tolerant." "Who are you to judge?" "Marriage must extend to partners of the same sex." "You can’t criticize those who have gone through a sex change." "I have a right…" When our desires are allowed to form our moral code we step into a world where there is no right and wrong. We create a world where no person can make a judgment about the actions, or opinions of another. All judgments are relative and the only standard is personal opinion. It is often stated that everyone has the right to their own opinion. Notice in saying, "everyone is entitled to their own opinion," one is eliciting a moral imperative. Everyone can have an opinion, but not every opinion is true, or valuable.
Interfere with a person’s position of moral outrage and you will suffer responses ranging from invective to battery or worse. This personal moral outrage based on personal desires has become entrenched in our society. It can’t end well.
Relativism leads to ethical nihilism the worst of all worlds where there is no good and evil, right or wrong, judgment or shame. There is only personal opinion, rights, and moral imperialism. It is a world in which might makes right. (They wonder why people cling to their guns.) We see groups joining together that share the same desires. They rage in the streets with moral fervor. They dictate on campuses and in classrooms. They enforce jihad in the most profane ways. They pass laws to enforce their personal point of view. In the name of a personal moral code they encourage anarchy, the ultimate end to rejecting what is necessarily and objectively real.
When we rely on our personal desires to form our moral code we reject the source of objective moral values. It is the ultimate sin. It says, "I can be like God." That is saying that I am my own arbiter of what is good or bad, right or wrong, beautiful or ugly. I am sufficient in myself to judge.
Necessary, objective reality is not hard to understand. We come by it intuitively. The math might be hard but the fundamental concepts are easy to grasp. "She got more than I did," is an easy response that reflects both the grasp of the fundamental nature of counting and a sense of what is right or wrong. These things are meant to be known.
Getting our moral actions entirely correct is a learning process, it is like learning math. The reality is that the fundamentals are there for us to use and grow into. Yes, slavery was wrong. So is abortion. If you are going to place value on life then let’s do so consistently. Of course, to preserve your personal moral code, you redefine what life is. In the womb a baby is not a human being, you say and in so doing deny the obvious. We have heard this before. The Jews were not human beings to the Nazis. Blacks were not viewed as human beings by their slave owners. We are moving toward holding the aged and others as no longer being human beings. In our demand for personal morality we destroy our own humanity.
We all face desires many of which should never be acted upon. Some desires are bad for us. Desiring to be a married-bachelor is an impossible state of being. Others wake up desiring to be of another sex, or to be "married" to the same sex. Equally impossible states of being. We all wrestle with our crazy desires, but we do not give into them no matter how powerful they might become. That would be lunacy, but just that kind of lunacy is what we see in the world today.
The more we exclude God from our lives, the worse things will be. That is a simple fact, as simple as two plus two equals four. That is a necessary, and objective reality, no proof needed. How do I know. I know by intuition. I know because God wants me to know.