Truth; Relative or Absolute?

Contemporary thinking suggests, “What is right depends on the situation.” Many believe “there is no body of eternal, unchanging truth;” that “truth is relative and may vary from group to group or from time to time, having no objective standard.”

Is this right?

There are two standards of morality: man’s and God’s. History demonstrates that man’s morality is governed by a changing mode of relative values. This is because every code of human law falls short of absolute justice and equity. Whatever human intelligence designs or regulates must fall into the class of relative values. No human authority can tell us how to act so that the greatest good will come to the race.

God’s laws are absolutely perfect. As Creator of all, He knows what is best for the whole of mankind. Being all wise, He knows without experimentation what will work for the best. He sees the end from the beginning. His laws are not relative. They are timeless. They need no revising.

God has two kinds of laws, natural laws and spiritual, moral laws. The laws of nature are absolute and unchanging. The law of gravity is as true now as in the beginning, in America as in China. God’s spiritual, moral laws are as absolute and unchanging as the laws of nature. “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away” (Matthew 24:35). “The word of the Lord abides forever” (1 Peter 1:25). His word is final and complete and men are warned, “Do not add to His words, or He will rebuke you and prove you a liar” (Proverbs 30:6).

Today, decisions about attitudes and behaviors are considered to be a matter of personal inclinations, of likes and dislikes, based on the mood and the convenience of the moment. There is also less inclination to accept responsibility. “Others” or “the circumstances” are blamed for what happens. Personal responses to what others do and to what happens in the environment are considered to be outside of one’s control. Admittedly, there are often happenings over which there is little personal control and there are detrimental circumstances which come to us unbidden, yet how we act [or react] is within our grasp. We can be held accountable for our responses. And will be. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive compensation for his deeds done through the body, in accordance with what he has done, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10).

The fact that “old ways of life corrupted by deceitful desires” can be “put off” and a “new self” can be “put on” (Ephesians 4:22,24) indicates that self-control and adhering to a standard of conduct can be practiced. The fact that it could be said of some who had indulged in immorality “that is what some of you WERE” (1 Corinthians 6:11), indicates it is humanly possible to exercise control over one’s personal actions, reactions, and choices. It is possible for men and women to adhere to God’s spiritual, moral law.

While whatever human intelligence devises falls into the class of relative values, whatever divine intelligence designs falls into the category of absolute value. Whereas “men suppress the truth by their wickedness” (Romans 1:18), God’s truth remains the same. It does not change to suit the whims of men. Thus, the decision for which every person is responsible is this: to follow the way of moral relativity or to adhere to the way of moral maturity and sensibility.

  • Frank J Daniels, pulpit minister & teacher