In the mind of the relativist, the concepts of good and evil do not exist. The words good and evil may be used, but the concept behind each word is different to a relativist. There is an aspect to good that implies desirable, and an aspect to evil that implies undesirable. That desirability, or lack thereof, is all that is left when those words are used by a relativist. Good is nothing more than whatever someone desires, and evil is nothing more than whatever someone actively does not desire.
Good and evil to the relativist reside within the individual. If I desire something, that automatically makes it good. If I actively desire to avoid something, that automatically makes it evil. We see this all the time when people talk about books, movies, music, sports, etc. The things I like are good primarily because I like them, not necessarily because of any particular qualities they may possess independent of my opinion. The things I don’t like are bad primarily because I don’t like them, not necessarily because of any particular qualities they may possess independent of my opinion.
Anyone who agrees with our opinion gets to join in the goodness of our opinion. They are a wonderful person. They are wise and discerning. This judgment is made not on the basis of any particular quality they may possess, but solely on basis of their agreement with our opinion.
The opposite thing happens when someone disagrees with our opinion. They are left out of the goodness of our opinion. They are an awful person. They are foolish and blind and stupid.
Such is the mindset of the relativist.
This is one of the reasons our political discourse has gone so sour. People with different political leanings are no longer seen as people with whom, despite our disagreements, we may occasionally be able to compromise to some extent. Those others are not even really people any longer. They are evil, and must always be resisted with all of our strength. No one compromises with evil.
One of the biggest misunderstandings people in the modern world have about Christianity is the nature of good and evil. Poor instruction is one of the reasons, but that poor instruction typically comes about because of an acceptance of relativism. Good things are commonly thought to be good because God says so, and evil things evil because God says so. To the relativist, good and evil according to Christianity are nothing more than God’s opinions. Murder is wrong because God declared it to be so, not because of anything inherent to murder itself. Adultery is wrong because God declared it to be so, not because of anything inherent to adultery itself. And so on.
It’s a childish understanding of morality. Sadly, that’s all many Christians have been taught by those who instructed them in the faith.
If you get into a discussion of morality with a relativist, you will quickly come to realize that this is how they view all morality. God likes some things so declared them good, and doesn’t like some things so declared them evil. If he really wanted to, God could change what is good and what is evil. It’s just an arbitrary definition, a legalistic ruling.
Even if you don’t consider yourself a relativist, you may find that your own view of the world and morality is sometimes relativist. It IS a part of the culture in which we live, after all. It’s difficult to escape since we’re saturated with it.
To the relativist, Christianity must be resisted because its followers wish to impose a dictatorial opinion on everyone, both those who follow that religion and those who do not. A Christian who also believes in relativism will resist the teachings of their own faith whenever those teachings conflict with their own opinion. They will also be more likely to leave the Christian faith behind, as acceptance of relativism makes it difficult to keep faith in God. God is not a being worthy of worship, or even believable, if what he teaches us is just his changeable opinion rather than an objective truth.
The true horror of the relativist mindset was warned about by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI when he referred to relativism as a dictatorship. Relativists must convince those who disagree with them to accept their opinion. Not everyone will. When faced with dissent, how will relativists deal with those who will not accept their opinion on what is and is not moral? There is no objective truth to appeal to in support of their opinion, as an opinion is nothing more than a personal preference.
On multiple occasions we have seem what happens. The relativist will behave in the same manner they accuse the hardcore religious person of behaving. They will impose their opinion on others by force. Relativists will eventually end up becoming the very caricature of God that they have in their minds – a being who imposes his will upon others against their own will.
The only way to fight relativism is to constantly show again and again, in the face of a culture that imagines Christianity is brutally oppressing all things non-Christian, that Christianity is not a blind devotion to the opinions of God. We must fight back against the mischaracterization brought against us, but not with the weapons of this world. Christianity must be a witness to the example of Christ. Christianity must be the proclamation of the Good News in both word and deed. The lived example of the Christian must testify to the truth of the objective nature of good.
Christianity must, in short, embody love. Not the meaning the relativist has in mind when saying something like, “I love cake”, but the meaning Jesus had in mind in Matthew chapter 20 when he said that he had come not to be served but to serve by giving his life as a ransom for many.
In ever greater numbers, this lived example is being shown in places like Asia (most especially China) and across Africa. I pray that it begins to happen here in greater numbers as well. I pray for the conversion of hearts that is necessary to renew this country.