What is moral relativism and how can Christians respond?

by Ryan S. Pauly

Have you read anything about tolerance or morality lately in the news? It seems to be everywhere and one of the main “hot-button” topics today. Why is one group being so intolerant towards another? Why don’t they just change what they view as immoral so that we can all get along? The prevailing belief seems to be that each person has a right to their own opinion and that morality depends on the person. Each opinion is correct as long as you don’t force your opinion on someone else; then you are intolerant. The main problem is that there are two different views of morality. One view is that morality is relative and the other is that morality is objective. Relativism holds that moral values are subjective and no different from what you think about your favorite ice cream, movie, or sports team. Everyone deserves to have their own opinion on good and evil just our opinion on our favorite ice cream flavor; I can like vanilla and you can like chocolate. Objective morality holds that moral laws do not change and are true for all people, at all times, and in all places. We are all allowed to have our own opinions on different topics and we don’t have to agree, but does this logic apply to moral laws? Should a discussion about our favorite food be looked at the same as a discussion about what is good and evil?

Let’s first look at the consequence of rejecting objective morals. “For to deny the existence or universally objective moral distinctions, one must admit that Mother Teresa was no more or less moral that Adolf Hitler, that torturing three-year-olds for fun is neither good nor evil.”[1] Under the umbrella of moral relativism, everything is decided by the opinion of the person committing the act. You would never be able to tell someone that what they are doing is wrong but only that you don’t like it. This can create a huge problem. Aren’t there right and wrong things in this world? Isn’t it right to give food and shelter to the homeless and wrong to kill them? However, in a relativistic world, it wouldn’t matter which option someone chooses. “When we abandon the idea that one set of laws applies to every human being, all that remains is subjective, personal opinion.”[2]

Now let’s look at two main types of relativism…


What is moral relativism and how can Christians respond? | Coffeehouse Questions