Monday, February 8, 2016

Wading in the Muck of Moral Relativism‏

Let me tell you about an experience I had this week. We found an old investigator that other missionaries had been teaching and go to talking with her, trying to figure out why she'd never gotten baptized. We started asking questions. More or less happened the following:
"Have you ever prayed about the Book of Mormon?" I asked.
"No," she said. "I believe that it's true."
A little confused, I followed the line of questioning to find a weak point. "You believe it's true?"
"Yes, everything that comes from God is true."
"So, do you believe Joseph Smith was a prophet?"
There was probably something wrong here, because that usually implies baptism, right? " you believe this is the only true church on the earth?"
She paused for a second and thought this one out. "I think they all have...their significance."
She hadn't said neither yes nor no. The plot was thickening. I took a guess. "Do you believe that if we join any church we will be saved?"
She had to think harder this time before responding. "I think we should do it because it comes from the heart. If someone goes to a church because they're obligated, that's not good."
She hadn't answered the question, so I restated it. "Do you believe that if we join any church we will be saved?"
"I think...we need to keep the commandments," she said after a moment. "We need to follow what's in the Book of Mormon."
I couldn't believe it. Could she not see the gaping flaws in her own logic? Not feeling mean enough to actually point them out, we kept on with the questions and answers until we finally somehow tied it back to an invitation to read and pray about the Book of Mormon. It reminded me of a very similar incident that had happened earlier in the week, and the way my companion answered in the instance was really instructive. "You don't understand the plan of salvation," he had said.
It's true! God wants us to progress and learn to become like him. That means that we need agency, and the ability to choose between the good and the bad. Now, this obviously implies the existence of eternal truth, of an actual good and actual bad. Lehi explains in 2 Nephi 2:
 13 And if ye shall say there is no law, ye shall also say there is no sin. If ye shall say there is no sin, ye shall also say there is no righteousness. And if there be no righteousness there be no happiness. And if there be no righteousness nor happiness there be no punishment nor misery. And if these things are not there is no God. And if there is no God we are not, neither the earth; for there could have been no creation of things, neither to act nor to be acted upon; wherefore, all things must have vanished away.
And so if there is no good or evil, God doesn't exist. Elder Christofferson explained this really well a few years ago:
God who makes no demands is the functional equivalent of God who does not exist. world without God, the livingGod who establishes moral laws to govern and perfect His children, is also world without ultimate truth or justice. It isworld where moral relativism reigns supreme. Relativism means each person is his or her own highest authority. 

Of course, it is not just those who deny God that subscribe to this philosophy. Some who believe in God still believe that they themselves, individually, decide what is right and wrong. One young adult expressed it this way: “I don’t think I could say that Hinduism is wrong or Catholicism is wrong or being Episcopalian is wrong—I think it just depends on what you believe. … I don’t think that there’s a right and wrong.” Another, asked about the basis for his religious beliefs, replied, “Myself—it really comes down to that. I mean, how could there be authority to what you believe?”

To those who believe anything or everything could be true, the declaration of objective, fixed, and universal truth feels like coercion—“I shouldn’t be forced to believe something is true that I don’t like.” But that does not change reality. Resenting the law of gravity won’t keep a person from falling if he steps off a cliff. The same is true for eternal law and justice. Freedom comes not from resisting it but from applying it. That is fundamental to God’s own power. If it were not for the reality of fixed and immutable truths, the gift of agency would be meaningless since we would never be able to foresee and intend the consequences of our actions.
So, I guess if you don't believe God exists, I can't blame you if you think that way. But I know He lives! And the very right, very just thing about the way He works is that you, too, can know if He lives. Just ask Him in prayer. It requires faith, I know. But there is one truth, and you can know what it is.
Love you lots!

1. I didn't end up taking any pics this week, but here's a pic that they sent me of when Blanca and Jhon, two people I was teaching in my old sector, got baptized with the elders that followed me in the sector. Not sure who the girl is though.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.