A Sobering Conversation with Elizabeth Rice Handford
First surprise in a 2020 Barna poll: 51% of all American adults claimed they believed that the Bible is the only source of absolute truth. They affirmed they make intellectual, emotional, and spiritual life choices according to what the Word of God says. That’s an astonishing number.
Second surprise, even more astonishing: In that same survey, though 51% of all Americans claimed the Bible is the only reliable source of truth, 49% of those evangelicals nevertheless rejected absolute moral truth in their life-style choices. They believe truth can change according to the circumstances; there is no simple right or wrong, regardless of what the Word of God says.
The Barna Report concluded, “Belief in absolute moral truth rooted in God’s word is rapidly eroding among all American adults, whether churched or unchurched, within every political segment, and within every age group.”
What a frightening disconnect! If there is no absolute truth, if nothing in itself is right or wrong, then any law that punishes any behavior is itself immoral. If your truth is not my truth, and if laws against murder and theft and drug use are sometimes wrong, then anarchy will reign. “Every man will do what is right in his own eyes”, as Judges 17:6 says. If there is no absolute moral truth, then I have a right to take anything I want from anyone, get rid of anyone I don’t like, say what I like, and abandon all obligation to family and to God.
But there is an absolute moral standard, found in the absolute trustworthy Word of God. It plainly states that murder, adultery, and theft are wrong. Since the Bible is absolutely trustworthy, we certainly ought to shape every decision we make by it. It’s hypocritical to honor the Bible as God’s infallible Word without error as our guide for life, but actually ignore it when deciding how we will live. Won’t our children think we are hypocrites? And does perhaps our holy, loving God think so too?
Robert Fulgham wrote, “Don’t worry that your children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you.” But it isn’t just our children who observe our actions. It’s our friends, our co-workers, our neighbors, who also hear what we say we believe, and then watch to see if our behavior matches how we talk.
Matthew 15:19,20 says, “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man.”
That’s why Proverbs 4:23 warns:
Above all else, guard your heart, for it affects everything you do.
May God help me to etch His Word on my heart so thoroughly that my life choices actually match what I say I believe!