A Perfect Example of Relativism

by Richard Mansel

This would be hilarious if it weren't so disturbing. The idea that this is the way far too many think today scares me.

A conservative radio talk show out of Atlanta caught my ear one day as a discussion developed about the moral and ethical standards of youth today. Callers, young and old, gave their wisdom or the lack thereof. At one particular time, the subject matter had narrowed down to how young adults and teenagers evaluate what makes a person good or bad.

The next caller was Natalie, a 17-year-old girl who lives in an upper-middle-class neighborhood and achieves a B+ average in school. As her comments continued, it became clear that Natalie judged her own life by what others around her were doing and saying. Her moral and ethical standards did not come from the Bible or from standards taught to her by her parents. Her standards were based solely upon what was acceptable to her peers — those "wise" counselors who encourage individualism but all dress, act, and speak the same.

As Natalie vainly described her lifestyle, it was amazing to realize her total removal from reality and moral responsibility. She said she did not sleep around—she only has sex with her boyfriend (whoever that is that particular week). She does not drink alcohol — except at parties (which she attends several times a week). She defensively sighed, "I'm not bad, not like the others."

She claims she only smokes pot about two times during the school week and occasionally before school in the morning — but not as much as most kids. When she goes to school stoned, the teachers know it, but no one mentions it. According to Natalie, most kids in her high school smoke pot mixed with LSD "because they go together so well." She has tried it, but does not smoke it regularly (only a few times a month). Natalie admits, "Pot definitely affects my memory, definitely. There's a lot I can't remember. But everybody does it! I don't do it like the others. Not as often."

Natalie justified herself by saying, "I'm not bad, not like the others. I think I'm a pretty good person, I haven't killed anybody. I know it's wrong to do drugs, but it's the only thing I do wrong. I'm a pretty good person. I haven't killed anybody yet!"

The announcer was stunned, "Are you telling me, because you haven't killed anyone — yet — that makes you a good person?"

In a matter-of-fact way Natalie replied, "Well, yes!

For Further Study

Verses to Consider

  • Judges 21:25
  • Psalms 10:3
  • Psalms 12:8
  • Psalms 118:8
  • Psalms 119:97-104
  • Psalms 119:136-140
  • Proverbs 14:12
  • Proverbs 28:26
  • Jeremiah 10:23
  • Ezekiel 18:20
  • Matthew 7:13-14
  • Luke 6:39
  • Luke 6:46
  • John 3:27
  • Romans 14:7
  • I Peter 3:10-17

Questions to Ponder

  1. Why doesn’t Natalie see her life as sinful?
  2. Does she think some of her behaviors as bad? How does she excuse them?
  3. Would there be a problem if everyone used the same standard as Natalie? Why?
  4. What makes something right or wrong?