Nothing more separates Judeo-Christian values from secular values than the question of whether morality -- what is good or evil -- is absolute or relative. In other words, is there an objective right or wrong, or is right or wrong a matter of personal opinion?
In the Judeo-Christian value system, God is the source of moral values and therefore what is moral and immoral transcends personal or societal opinion. Without God, each society or individual makes up its or his/her moral standards. But once individuals or societies become the source of right and wrong, right and wrong, good and evil, are merely adjectives describing one's preferences. This is known as moral relativism, and it is the dominant attitude toward morality in modern secular society.
Moral relativism means that murder, for example, is not objectively wrong; you may feel it's wrong, but it is no more objectively wrong than your feeling that some music is awful renders that music objectively awful. It's all a matter of personal feeling. That is why in secular society people are far more prone to regard moral judgments as merely feelings. Children are increasingly raised to ask the question, "How do you feel about it?" rather than, "Is it right or wrong?"
Only if God, the transcendent source of morality, says murder is wrong, is it wrong, and not merely one man's or one society's opinion.
Most secular individuals do not confront these consequences of moral relativism. It is too painful for most decent secular people to realize that their moral relativism, their godless morality, means that murder is not really wrong, that "I think murder is wrong," is as meaningless as "I think purple is ugly."
That is why our culture has so venerated the Ten Commandments -- it is a fixed set of God-given moral laws and principles. But that is also why opponents of America remaining a Judeo-Christian country, people who advocate moral relativism, want the Ten Commandments removed from all public buildings. The Ten Commandments represents objective, i.e., God-based morality.
All this should be quite clear, but there is one aspect of moral relativism that confuses many believers in Judeo-Christian moral absolutes. They assume that situational ethics is the same thing as moral relativism and therefore regard situational ethics as incompatible with Judeo-Christian morality. They mistakenly argue that just as allowing individuals to determine what is right and wrong negates moral absolutes, allowing situations to determine what is right and wrong also negates moral absolutes.
Dennis Prager is a SRN radio show host, contributing columnist for Townhall.com and author of his newest book, “The Ten Commandments: Still the Best Moral Code.”
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