I hear that the constitution should not be changed again, because in a country as young as ours, the young need to take the lead. But says who? Others say it should be, to allow able leaders to provide their experienced leadership to the nation. But says who?
Some say homosexuality is a human right, others say it is a human vice. Some say abortion is a woman’s choice concerning her body, others say it is the baby’s body for which they have right to choose whether to live or not.
Some say we should distribute condoms and contraceptives to our primary schools to curb the HIV pandemic, while others say to provide bullet proofs to thieves under the name of protection doesn’t curb robbery. But says who?
I am speaking about the age-old struggle between relativism and absolute truth and moral claims. Who says what is right, and who arbitrates the struggle between conservatives and liberals? Says who? And when I speak of relativism, I don’t speak of having a wonderful time with your relatives. I don’t speak of Einstein’s general theory of relativity, although it has something to do with it.
Relativism is the doctrine that knowledge, truth, and morality exist in relation to culture, society, or historical context, and are not absolute. Relativism is not satisfied with the answer to the question, ‘but says who’, for no matter who says, relativism says ‘that’s your opinion’.
Relativism and Language
Words speak. They communicate. For words to have meaning, they must have a fixed reference point. At the tower of Babel, the confusion arose out of the fact that words did not communicate as intended, because there was no longer a coherent language. If you have ever ventured into a different culture completely, you will see how unlivable relativism is. When you ask for food from someone who doesn’t understand your language, you better pray for the gift of tongues, or else you will starve.
You can only benefit from me only if you understand what I say. And you understand what I say, because the words I use refer to reality independent of the words. In other words, words have meaning only as far as there is independent, objective and ultimate reality as points of reference. If I say ‘praise the Lord’, there must be a Lord to praise, a Lord worthy of praise. Praise must refer to something clear, which you can do. Praise the Lord must be different from ‘go home now’, or else when I said ‘praise the Lord, each one of you would have walked out of the door.
Language is meaningless without concrete reality. It is this concrete reality relativism seeks to deny. Relativism denies objective morality. It suggests that whatever I do is not your business, and the same goes for your actions. The only absolute relativism seems to believe in, is personal freedom to do whatever I want. In this, relativism shows itself as an incoherent worldview. I remember some anti-theist saying there is no absolutes. I asked him if he is absolutely sure. He looked very disturbed by my question, eventually telling me, ‘I know that what I said sounds weird’, but let me say that there are no absolutes, except the absolute that there are no absolutes, to which I responded, ‘it doesn’t just sound weird, it is weird.’
The Origin of Relativism
Sin and Satan are the reasons relativism exists. Genesis 3:1 is basically, ‘you are forbidden from eating that fruit+ But says who?’. When Satan asked Eve, ‘did God really say?’, Satan was suggesting that what God said was just His opinion. And Eve shouldn’t be bothered by God’s opinion. She is free to do whatever she wants, there will be no consequences. In fact, there are benefits. According to Satan, if Eve rejects God’s opinion and eats the fruit, she will be like God.
Relativism begins with the rejection of God and His Law. When a nation moves away from the Judeo-Christian worldview, whether intentionally or otherwise, it will slide into a sludge of relativism. Even and Adam plunged us into a lawless society when they rejected God’s law. An example.
Over 40 nations in the world are on the verge of extinction, unless otherwise. it’s a matter of time. These nations have a negative population growth, which means they are dying more than they are being fruitful and multiplying. God’s instruction to Adam and Eve might sound simplistic, but humanity’s future is as good as the children born. No children, no future.
China is facing a problem with its birth control method, and so is France Japan, Sweden, etc. Europe will shortly become an Islamic continent, and the whites know it. The reason is because Muslims have no problem producing children, while Europeans see reproduction as a burden, an infringement on their freedom to enjoy life.
But that’s just one area. I could continue with many other areas. My point is that without God and His laws, both individuals and nations perish. That is why the gospel is the only hope for humanity.
Relativism in our children is birthed when parents don’t ground their children’s worldview. If you don’t give a logical reason to your child why something is wrong and the other is right, when they grow up they will depart from your laws. Many students waste their lives at University, because they think they are now set free from their Parent’s rules. They have been seeing your laws as a burden rather than a hedge of protection. Satan tells them, ‘did your parents really say?’, and that moment, without a proper moral conviction, they ‘eat life’ and die, as God promised Adam and Eve.
The Relativism of Relativism
I had mentioned of a friend of mine who thought his statement ‘there are no absolutes except the absolute that there are no absolutes’ was weird. Another one, who I met two weeks ago at the American Embassy during the ‘pre-departure orientation’ looked at me puzzled. She had mentioned to me that she doesn’t think there are any absolutes. I told her, ‘but that is an absolute statement’. She said, and I quote; ‘simbawo akati awo!’, to be continued.
Relativism is very relative. The statement ‘all truth is relative’ is an absolute statement. In other words, you are absolutely sure that there are no absolutes, which is categorical nonsense.
But those who say so don’t know it. This is because our generation is syncretic. We pick statements here and there, and use them without thinking about them. We say things like ‘God helps those who help themselves’, statements like ‘Omuzadde katonda wawano kunsi’, etc. We have not intentionally tried to know what we believe and why we believe it. For that reason, we are not grounded.
Why should Relativism Concern us?
Ideas have consequences. We are rightly frustrated by the President who doesn’t honor his/her pledge, and yet we just shrug it off as merely politics. We forget that Politics lie in the realm of morality. He is not just a politician, he is a liar. If he lied to the citizens on camera, he will lie to his wife, his children, and God.
Unless there is an absolute standard to which we are all accountable, including politicians and human rights activists, we will be in the battle of ‘says who’ forever. Absolutes do not originate from the constitution. That’s why it is changed at the reception of some shillings. America’s declaration of independence did not make all men equal. Absolutes cannot be grounded in a paper penned by those in power. Remember the order of things: Language exists after reality.
Relativism reflects our moral decay. When you tell your children to stay sexually pure and you are cheating on your wife or husband, they will ask, ‘but says who?’. When you tell them to be hardworking but you are lazy, they will ask, ‘but says who?’.
It’s not just about the change of the constitution, or not. It’s not mainly a problem of homosexual activity. The problem is that the church has failed to proclaim the unchanging word of God as absolute. The church has been as wicked as the world, and thus lost the moral ability to rebuke the nations. When we say abortion is wrong, the world asks, ‘but says who?’.
The church must rise again to her prophetic place. God is the ultimate reality from which everything else derives its existence and meaning. God is the genesis of language, and that is why, in the beginning was the Word. We must tell the world that in Him all things consist, and that without Him nothing was made that was made. In Christ we live, move and have our being. He is the absolute that not even relativism can dodge. And because of this truth, when Satan asks, ‘has God really said’, we must stop him with, ‘Yes, He has, and I will obey’. The answer to the question ‘but says who’ must be ‘and God said’. Genesis 1 and 2 is the answer to Satan’s question in Gen 3:1, and it is a sufficient answer.