Something is either true or it isn’t. There is no third option.
This can get dicey and offend people very quickly, but that doesn’t change the truth. Subjective truth is a lie that people cling to, covering their eyes, declaring they are fine as they walk off a cliff.
How can I write something so bold? How can I tell you that any notion of “relative truth” is nonsense?
A simple thought experiment will help explain this. Let’s say that you are a believer in “subjective truth”, that something can be true for you, but not true for me. In essence, we make our truth. Truth can be this way one day, and change the next. What you believe is good for you, and what I believe is for me, and we should just let that be. These are your beliefs.
Let’s also say that I am not a believer in “subjective truth” and oppose you. I maintain that truth is consistent. That the truth is unchanging, regardless of time, space, cultural differences, and such things. What is true, is true.
To stir up trouble, a third individual enters and holds the same views as you. She is a believer in “subjective truth”. Then she says, “Killing children is okay.”
For me, hearing “killing children is okay” immediately strikes me as wrong. Jesus taught that all killing was wrong, even going so far as to say that hatred of a brother was sin (Matthew 5). The very idea that killing kids would ever be okay is such a bad, wrong, evil idea, that it is just a lie to suggest otherwise.
But now, you, as the believer in subjective truth, must decide. Is killing children okay?
Is that a truth that can exist alongside other truths like, killing children is always wrong?
Would you allow such an idea, something that churns and turns your stomach, something you know to be wrong, to be called truth?
It would take a very sick individual to say that it is subjectively true that killing children is okay. We would call them a monster, a person that is in need of serious help. We all know that killing children is wrong. We know it in our gut. Some things are wrong. Some things are the truth, regardless.
If you believe in subjective truth, try telling yourself that it is fine if someone in the world thinks that killing kids is okay. And then sit comfortably with that idea, that someone is out there, killing kids, believing that they are doing nothing wrong.
You can’t, can you?
This is where subjective truth falls apart. This is where the hypocrisy lies. Because no one in their right mind would be okay with the killing of children. No one would say that is acceptable to anyone. Subjective truth cannot bear the weight of such an idea.
The truth is that no one should ever kill children. It is wrong. Across time, space, cultural differences. It is wrong, evil, satanic, whatever other words you would use. Killing kids is absolutely wrong. And that is an absolute, unchangeable truth.
That is the folly of subjective truth. Here comes the hypocrisy.
As you think about how to decide about this third individual claim that killing children is okay, you actually are facing a much bigger dilemma.
Because if you say that their subjective truth is wrong, you are saying that all subjective truth is wrong. You are asserting that they are wrong in their notion of a truth that is only applicable to them. You are asserting that there may be rules that are true no matter what.
But, if you say that some subjective truths are wrong…could yours be wrong too?
Asserting that any subjective truth is wrong puts your own ideas of truth under the microscope. Suddenly all the ideas of truth that you were holding onto start crumbling. The whole notion that you can believe something and someone else believe something different and be equally right suddenly doesn’t hold.
Will you assert the absolute truth that killing kids is wrong? Or go against what you say you believe. Can it be okay for some people and wrong for others?
Consider these things, and consider this the end of the thought experiment.
The Bible tells us that God has written his Law in our hearts. Even people that have never read the words of Jesus still have an understanding because God hasn’t hidden this away from them. God has inscribed it on their hearts; some things are wrong, some things are right, some are true, and some are lies.
“For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. (Indeed, when Gentiles (non-Jews), who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.)” – Romans 2:13-15
There are absolute truths that do not change, regardless of time and space or cultural differences. There are some truths that are bigger than you and me and our opinion of things. To say that all truth is subjective is to stand on the very shaky ground. The hypocrisy, the inability to hold it’s self up to a simple test, shows just how weak and feeble this idea is.
We shouldn’t settle for a truth that changes with the wind. We shouldn’t be okay with a truth that is relative to who we are, where we are, or when we are. We should build our lives on nothing than absolute truth. We should anchor our lives to the truth that doesn’t depend on us. The best place to start doing that is found in the person of Jesus.
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” – John 14:6
Cling to Him, the unchanging Truth, and abandon the hypocrisy of subjective truth.
This blog first appeared on Christian Thought Sandbox.