The Rhode Island health department recently reported an increase in the number of sexually transmitted diseases. What could be behind this trend? Officials cite the role of social media, explaining that it allows individuals to arrange casual and often anonymous sexual encounters.
Helen Fisher, a biological anthropologist and one of the world’s leading relationship researchers, says that approximately 40 percent of men have partners outside of marriage. Reports indicate that 40 percent of users on the popular dating app Tinder are not single (for more on Tinder, see Nick Pitts’s article To Tinder or Not to Tinder). However, a 2013 Gallup poll reported that 91 percent of Americans find marital infidelity wrong.
Clearly, our beliefs do not match our actions.
Today it is conventional wisdom that truth is personal and subjective. “There’s no such thing as absolute truth” is the mantra of our day. “You have no right to force your beliefs on me,” we’re told. Whether the subject is same-sex marriage, abortion, euthanasia, marijuana, or other ethical debates, the prevailing sentiment is that tolerance is our highest goal.
When people take an unpopular stand, however, the “tolerance police” quickly brand them “intolerant.” Consider Brendan Eich, who became CEO of Mozilla, last year. He pledged that his company “will remain a place that includes and supports everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, age, race, ethnicity, economic status, or religion.” Such tolerance was not extended to the new CEO, however. Reports surfaced that Eich had made a personal $1,000 donation six years earlier to “Yes on 8,” a campaign that sought to ban same-sex marriage in California. A week after his appointment, he was forced to step down.
Andrew Sullivan, a gay commentator and staunch defender of same-sex marriage, responded: “When people’s lives and careers are subject to litmus tests, and fired if they do not publicly renounce what may well be their sincere conviction, we have crossed a line. This is McCarthyism applied by civil actors. This is the definition of intolerance.”
Moral relativism is not the solution to the moral challenges of our day. Neither is its antonym, legalism. Businessman Donald Keough noted, “We can never pass enough laws to make men ethical. There were already some seventy-one thousand pages of federal regulations plus SEC and New York Stock Exchange rules on the books at the time the Enron scandal broke.”
The answer to our moral problems is not found in relativism or rules, but in relationship—a transforming personal engagement with the only One who can change human hearts. Wise King Solomon noted, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7). King David said to God, “With you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light” (Psalm 36:9).
Solomon also observed, “Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered” (Proverbs 28:26). Which choice will you make today?