An Incrementally Moving Line
One of the challenges of a philosophy of relative truth is the creeping line of right and wrong. Basically, the idea is that, without an absolute definition of right and wrong that doesn’t change (i.e., based on God’s laws), then the definition is what ever seems right or wrong to us at the time. Normally this translates into something that is close to where we currently stand is in the circle of “right”, things farther outside of our current position are “wrong”.
Let me put that another way as example. An illustration of relative truth would be someone who has taken a position in an empty movie theater in the 3rd row, center seat. Moving to the 4th or 5th row, is not a significant change in position, thus within the “right circle”, but moving to row 50 is a big change and would be “wrong.” But once you’ve moved to the 5th row, now moving to the 6th or 7th doesn’t seem like that far of a stretch, etc., etc.
I was reading a paper* on the German occupation of France between 1940 and 1944 and there are very similar shifts that occurred. For example, the paper states that following the invasion of France, within days of the armistice, the majority of farmers and factory workers returned to their posts in France. But the German occupation’s key principle was that France should help (be of service to) Germany. That meant that Germany needed to control production and supply to ensure that the desired goods were produced and sent back the Reich. To enable this, rationing was put in place. To implement rationing, people had to register with their local butcher and baker. They were categorized based on need (e.g., age, work they performed, special conditions such as pregnancy). This didn’t seem like such a major change. It was their local shop. It wasn’t a significant loss of power or control. It wasn’t something worth going to arms over. But it grew. Rationing of one type led to more. It meant control over everything someone could buy or sell. It meant that without a ration card you could not buy or sell on the legitimate market. It meant that the work you normally did of assembling cars was now changing to assembling tanks and weapons, ones that would be used against others that had been your friends and allies. It meant times of limited supply where food security was non-existent (average caloric intake dropped by more than half). It meant reporting others who cheated the system in exchange for more ration cards, which meant neighbors spying and reporting on neighbors. It meant a gradual erosion of the fabric of life. Not in one big step, but row by row by row over time.
This helped me see how subversive and subtle the mark of the beast could creep into the lives of people with relative truth. It’s just a mark, a stamp, a symbol. It doesn’t change who I am. It’s not that big of a change. It’s not that big of a thing. Everyone else has it. It’s not worth fighting over, starving over, dying over.
But it is. It is crossing the line. It is to kneel at the feet of the one who vehemently opposes God. It means to betray and torment those who stand for God and it means denying God. Not all at once. Not a big leap, just moving row to row to row.
The only way to avoid this trap is to first expose the myth of relative truth. If what is right and wrong depends on God’s standing not my standing, then it doesn’t change or move. It means standing with the power of the Holy Spirit, relying on the word of God and knowing absolute right and wrong, not the sliding definition of the day.
But that also means stopping the subtle slide that has all ready occurred and repent (return) to God. Move back to square one, row 1, next to God. Stop living life based on doing what everyone else is doing. But that carries a cost. It means you will go against the direction of the masses. It means you will be opposed and ridiculed by the world as old-fashioned, archaic, out of touch, prejudiced, wrong, a fool.
Former Supreme Court Judge Antonin Scalia once said, “God assumed from the beginning that the wise of the world would view Christians as fools…and he has not been disappointed.… If I have brought any message today, it is this: Have the courage to have your wisdom regarded as stupidity. Be fools for Christ. And have the courage to suffer the contempt of the sophisticated world.” (Speech at Living the Catholic Faith conference, 2012.)
*Smith, Meredith, “The Civilian Experience in German Occupied France, 1940-1944” (2010), History Honors Papers. Paper 6.
Designates following the beast, if not inwardly then in outward appearance. Gives ability to partake in commerce (eat, clothing, living). For eternity it means rejecting God, facing full wrath, Name not written in the book of life, eternal burning in sulfur
If not saved and name written in the Lamb’s book of life they will falter (who could stand up under their own power in this situation?) and those who do not persevere choose the beast instead of God and they will receive eternal file and no rest
During this time of tribulation those who die “in the Lord” are specifically blessed by God for they are like martyrs, refusing to deny Christ, through their bodies – they have special rewards in heaven