What happens if young people stop caring about truth?

Do young women understand how to get to a stable marriage?
Do young women understand how to get to a stable marriage?

I noticed that young people are often unwilling to accept anything as true, especially when it interferes with their desire to seek happiness through an anything-goes sexuality. Often, opposition to abortion and/or homosexuality is an immediate deal-breaker. Nothing can be true if it contradicts the Sexual Revolution, including abortion and homosexuality.

Sean McDowell interviewed Abdu Murray about this problem.

Excerpt:

SEAN MCDOWELL: Why did you write a book called “Saving Truth”? What makes you think truth needs saving?

ABDU MURRAY: Thanks for the opportunity to share about the book, Sean. The title is meant to be a double-entendre. In and of itself, truth doesn’t need saving but it does need to be saved in the sense that we’ve lost our emphasis on it as a culture. We’re in a “post-truth” society, which elevates personal preferences and feelings over facts and truth. We don’t deny that truth exists, we just subordinate it to our preferences. We think that this will lead to freedom and human dignity and flourishing. But it won’t. It will lead to chaos because truth no longer serves as the standard by which to judge human preferences and opinions. That’s why we’re seeing such vilification of “them.” Whoever disagrees with our preferences is automatically a villain, even if the truth is on their side. We need to recover our love of the truth and its primacy if we’re to escape the chaos that so laces our cultural climate. When we see that truth is the lens through which we should shape and express our preferences, we’ll see the truth that we are made in God’s image and that Jesus redeemed that image at the cross. We no longer see “us” vs. “them.” Instead, we see each other as people in need of redemption. That’s when we come to a knowledge of the saving truth – the truth that saves.

In my 20s and early 30s, I spent a lot of time reading about marriage, specifically studies on what decisions and factors were more likely to avoid divorce. This is because I wanted my future marriage to last and to have an impact. So, I would read studies on how delaying sexual activity makes the relationship more stable. And how cohabitation undermines the stability of any future marriage. And how regular church attendance improves marriage stability. I was interested in the truth. And whenever my desires for something right now (e.g. – premarital sex) conflicted with the truth in the studies, I just went along with the truth. What we’re seeing today is that people don’t care about truth when they are making decisions, especially when it comes to relationship quality and stability. Happiness is number one, and character means nothing. Somehow, things are just supposed to “work out” if you find the “right person”. Good luck getting anyone to care what the Bible says about love and marriage, if it conflicts with sexual autonomy.

Here’s a quote from agnostic Aldous Huxley that illustrates the point:

I had motives for not wanting the world to have a meaning; consequently assumed that it had none, and was able without any difficulty to find satisfying reasons for this assumption. The philosopher who finds no meaning in the world is not concerned exclusively with a problem in metaphysics, he is also concerned to prove that there is no valid reason why he personally should not do as he wants to do, or why his friends should not seize political power and govern in the way that they find most advantageous to themselves… For myself, the philosophy of meaningless was essentially an instrument of liberation, sexual and political.”
Aldous Huxley in “Ends and Means“, 1937

Before I saw this interview, I tweeted another interview with Abdu Murray posted on Bible Gateway.

Excerpt:

What do you mean that “autonomy is confused for freedom”?

Abdu Murray: The seed for the post-truth mindset is the human desire for autonomy. We’ve confused autonomy with freedom, thinking they’re synonymous when they’re not.

Autonomy is the state of being a law unto one’s self (“autos” meaning self and “nomos” meaning law). Someone who’s autonomous is a law unto themselves and so he has no restraints whatsoever. An autonomous person can do or be whatever he wants, whenever he wants, however he wants. That ultimately leads to total chaos because if I’m a law unto myself and another person’s “law unto themselves” conflicts with my law, who will decide who’s right? It won’t be truth, it’ll be chaos (see Judges 17:6; 21:5: “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes”).

But true freedom is different. It requires boundaries; specifically the boundaries of truth and facts. As Chesterton pointed out, we don’t have the freedom to draw a giraffe with a short neck. Freedom entails limits. True freedom is not the unfettered ability to do, say, or be whatever we want in any way we want. True freedom is the ability to do what we want, in accordance with what we should, based on what we are. What we are is children of the Most High. That’s exactly why Jesus says that when we know the truth, the truth will set us free.

Abdu has written a book about how to deal with this. I’m not sure right now what his approach is. It’s probably important to make some sort of defense of truth to young people, so that they understand why the boundaries help them. If they think they can break all the moral laws and that it will not close off some good outcomes to them later, then we need to correct that. We need to use evidence to show them that some decisions will increase or decrease their ability to get the best outcomes. Moreover, we somehow have to get them to accept that God, if he exists, might have something to say about their moral choices. And if God exists then they ought to care what he thinks they should be doing.

One of my best friends is a Christian woman who had an abortion after living with an atheist when she was younger. Looking back on her life, she did not have good guidance about what to look for in a man. Her mother married (and re-married) poorly, and so there was never a good role model around for her. She would often complain to me about how she was lied to by the culture. About what men to prefer. About how far to go with a man. About delaying marriage. About delaying children. About how much abortion would hurt her. About guarding her heart from men who had not demonstrated ability at husbands and father skills. When I met her, I wasn’t very impressed with her education (English! Yucky!) and her career. But she had this hatred of lies, and a desperate desire to know how the world really worked.

More than almost any of my friends, she was utterly devoted to pursuing truth. I remember finding books that I had bought for her by really advanced writers like Stephen C. Meyer absolutely covered in underlining from cover to cover. Basically, she didn’t trust her ability to make decisions because she felt she had been lied to. She wanted a true worldview, so that when she took some action X, she knew that it was likely to lead her to result Y. That’s the love of truth that we need to teach the young people. Without a true worldview, (a Christian worldview, since Christianity is true), they will always be attempting to get to outcomes that have been closed off by their own poor decision-making and rebellion against God. I wish all of you could meet someone who had been raised without good leadership and good role models, and see how much some people at least really thirst for the truth and are anxious to make good decisions that honor what is true.

12 thoughts on “What happens if young people stop caring about truth?”

  1. I once was in a class where the teacher bravely came out as pro-life and told us why he thought abortion was wrong under any circumstances. Even though my views differed somewhat from his, I respected his reasoning, and his courage to speak out for his own convictions. Unfortunately, my classmates were shocked and while I wouldn’t go so far as to say horrified, they were pretty baffled and confused. It was like they were only exposed to one side of the issue, and never encountered a person on the other side, like they were robots unable to “compute” the information they just got. They only saw it in terms of their side being the “good” side and the other side was “bad” and “wrong”. A lot of young people are so brainwashed into the radical liberal agenda, anything outside their ideological bubble is anathema! I heard this quote in a kid’s cartoon in a different context, but it works perfectly for this situation:
    -“Put up the denial shields!”
    -“The denial shields are down, facts are getting in!!!” …
    https://aladyofreason.wordpress.com/

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    1. It doesn’t seem to be a virtue to be able to state the other sides views. I once met pro-life philosopher Michael tool at a conference. Shook his hand. I’ve had to read arguments by Judith Jarvis Thompson and others, and watch debates with Nadine Strossen and others. Doesn’t bother me.tbats how you build up your tolerance to hold still and listen while people you disagree with have the floor.

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      1. I wish more people would be more open minded to the other side, like the conservative viewpoint and not just use ad-hominem attacks to dismiss people, like calling pro-lifers misogynist or sexist, or people who critique minorities racists… That’s what the next generation is being trained to do…

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        1. Even when we disagree an alternative view strengths even the side that is true.

          Only skeptics see the glaring holes in theories that are glossed over or assumed. If everyone jumps into one view then when they are right it is good but if you are wrong then you can be dangerously off course before correction can occur

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          1. Yeah. Like my preferred solution to the Divine foreknowledge vs human freedom problem is middle knowledge. But I’m aware of the best argument against it: the grounding objection. I went to a whole conference on it, featuring my arch enemy Paul Helm. Heck when Paul Helm debated William Lane Craig, I did a respectful summary of the debate on this blog. I like to know how to argue against my view from the best. Not sure why this isn’t popular any more on the secular left.

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  2. Not entirety on topic, but there is a Referendum in Ireland on Friday. The Irish Constitution currently bans abortion, the government wants to legalize it & the Referendum is to change the Constitution to legalize abortion.
    The Irish media is largely in the pro-abortion “Yes” camp, but when they organized a TV debate last week the “No” side did better than they expected, there might just be a chance that No could win.
    Please pray for Ireland & it’s people that they won’t make a terrible mistake & legalize abortion.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. 1. I sometimes wish that there were more things like Summit Worldview Camp/Summit Ministries (https://www.summit.org/ )

    I sometimes get the sense that some Christians believe that just because they are Christians, they “think Christian” on any given topic.

    Sometimes one can expose some of the weaknesses of thinking by asking, “So how does your faith and what biblical passages are you bringing to bear on your thinking on this topic?” (and maybe use the Socratic method of asking about other passages that these people may not have considered.)

    2. Unfortunately in this day and age, feeling tends to trump a lot of arguments.

    As an anecdotal story:

    I was impressed by a friend’s now husband — back then — boyfriend. Let’s call him … Richard. We were talking about his Bible study and Richard was incensed at the other members. (Sometimes small groups/Bible studies can become therapeutic discussion groups with little Bible grounding.) One guy raised how he was “unhappy” in his marriage and how God wouldn’t want him to be unhappy.*

    * Except that God wants us to be holy, not necessarily happy.

    In any case, the other members nodded with him and agreed that he should find someone new or whatever. Richard asked kindly at first, “So … was your wife unfaithful?” To which the ‘unhappy husband’ said no. Richard laced into the group member: did you not take marriage vows like, “For better or for worse…”? Yes, the man did. Richard continued, “So, you took marriage vows BEFORE GOD, and knowing that marriage life isn’t a bed of roses…?” And the unhappy husband was stunned and speechless.

    We’re told in the Bible, which should be standard for truth, that God disciplines his children (well, his sons, but by implication, his children). It’s not always punishment — it’s not necessarily a negative consequence for our disobedience. As a dad, I want what’s best for my children. I’ll teach them stuff as I know how — whether this is how to tread water or how to bat for t-ball. And sometimes I do need to be corrective, to help my kids do better. I wouldn’t be a good dad if I were merely indifferent and let my kids do whatever they wanted.

    C. S. Lewis addressed this problem in the last century — in “The Problem of Pain”:

    “Nowadays, by LOVE most of us mean kindness – the desire to see others than the self happy; not happy in this way or in that, but just happy. What would really satisfy us would be a God who said of anything we happened to like doing, “What does it matter so long as they are contented?” We want, in fact, not so much a Father in Heaven as a grandfather in heaven – a senile benevolence who, as they say, “liked to see young people enjoying themselves” and whose plan for the universe was simply that it might be truly said at the end of each day, “a good time was had by all”. Not many people, I admit, would formulate a theology in precisely those terms: but a conception not very different lurks at the back of many minds. I do not claim to be an exception: I should very much like to live in a universe which was governed on such lines. But since it is abundantly clear that I don’t, and since I have reason to believe, nevertheless, that God is Love, I conclude that my conception of love needs correction.

    I might, indeed, have learned, even from the poets, that Love is something more stern and splendid than mere kindness: that even the love between the sexes is, as in Dante, “a lord of terrible aspect”. There is kindness in Love: but Love and kindness are not coterminous, and when kindness (in the sense given above) is separated from the other elements of Love, it involves a certain fundamental indifference to its object, and even something like contempt of it. Kindness consents very readily to the removal of its object – we have all met people whose kindness to animals is constantly leading them to kill animals lest they should suffer. Kindness, merely as such, cares not whether its object becomes good or bad, provided only that it escapes suffering. As Scripture points out, it is bastards who are spoiled: the legitimate sons, who are to carry on the family tradition, are punished. It is for people whom we care nothing about that we demand happiness on any terms: with our friends, our lovers, our children, we are exacting and would rather see them suffer much than be happy in contemptible and estranging modes. If God is Love, He is, by definition, something more than mere kindness. And it appears, from all the records, that though He has often rebuked us and condemned us, He has never regarded us with contempt. He has paid us the intolerable compliment of loving us, in the deepest, most tragic, most inexorable sense. We are, not metaphorically but in very truth, a Divine work of art. Over a sketch made idly to amuse a child an artist may not take much trouble. But over the [magnum opus] of his life—the work which he loves—he will take endless trouble—and would, doubtless, thereby give endless trouble to the picture if it were sentient. One can imagine a sentient picture, after being rubbed and scraped and re-commenced for the tenth time wishing that it were only a thumb-nail sketch whose making was over in a minute. In the same way it is natural for us to wish that God had designed us for a less glorious and less arduous destiny; but then we are wishing not for more love but for less. You asked for a loving God: you have one. Not a senile benevolence that drowsily wishes you to be happy in your own way…but the consuming fire Himself, the Love that made the worlds, persistent as an artist’s love for his work. It is certainly a burden of glory not only beyond our deserts but also, except in rare moments of grace, beyond our desiring. We should not ask that God’s love should reconcile itself to our present impurities—not more than the beggar maid could wish that the King should be content with her rags and dirt. What we would here and now call our ‘happiness’ is not the end God chiefly has in view: but when we are such as He can love without impediment, we shall [finally] be happy.”

    Another one from C. S. Lewis, “The Christian View of Suffering” (C.S. Lewis: Readings for Meditation and Reflection):

    Christ said it was difficult for “the rich” to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, referring, no doubt, to “riches” in the ordinary sense. But I think it really covers riches in every sense—good fortune, health, popularity and all the things one wants to have. All these things tend—just as money tends—to make you feel independent of God, because if you have them you are happy already and contented in this life. You don’t want to turn away to anything more, and so you try to rest in a shadowy happiness as if it could last forever.

    But God wants to give you a real and eternal happiness. Consequently He may have to take all these “riches” away from you: if He doesn’t, you will go on relying on them. It sounds cruel, doesn’t it? But I am beginning to find out that what people call the cruel doctrines are really the kindest ones in the long run. I used to think it was a “cruel” doctrine to say that troubles and sorrows were “punishments.” But I find in practice that when you are in trouble, the moment you regard it as a “punishment,” it becomes easier to bear. If you think of this world as a place in – tended simply for our happiness, you find it quite intolerable: think of it as a place of training and correction and it’s not so bad.

    Imagine a set of people all living in the same building. Half of them think it is a hotel, the other half think it is a prison. Those who think it a hotel might regard it as quite intolerable, and those who thought it was a prison might decide that it was really surprisingly comfortable. So that what seems the ugly doctrine is one that comforts and strengthens you in the end. The people who try to hold an optimistic view of this world would become pessimists: the people who hold a pretty stern view of it become optimistic.

    These quotes resonates with me. Many Christians would rather have their Heavenly Doting Grandfather give them whatever their hearts desire.

    I do think it’s necessary to equip our young people to have a love of the truth. And it may not always be peachy and rosy and happy. But that’s reality.

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  4. In terms of young Christians think the biggest problem is that we don’t have many older Christians who genuinely care about the truth of the Bible and are willing to act on it. Whenever Christianity comes under verbal assault most ‘leaders’ in the church tend to roll over and take it instead of defending it with logic and evidence. That’s not an example that inspires reverence for truth.

    With marriage and sexuality the western church will state that it believes in the biblical definition of marriage and throws a hissy fit when the government wants to let two men marry but the conclusion that I’ve come to is that: as a rule, the church doesn’t really care about marriage. They skirt around principles like headship and submissiveness and then do everything they can to prevent young Christians from marrying ( women must follow ‘the script’, emasculating men, don’t provide venues for meeting potential spouses, etc). This results in young Christians like myself being punished essentially for pursuing marriage like God intended by the same church that is supposed to support it. What kind of incentive is that to live by the truth?

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    1. This comment is exactly right. Defending Christianity takes study and adults aren’t generally willing to do it, nor to figure out how Christianity applies to anything in the real world. Instead, it’s reduced to a source of comfort which is encountered primarily through feelings and worship songs. This of course is useless for the defense of the gospel and the Christian worldview.

      Regarding marriage, if the church just repeats what the Bible says then they basically don’t want to win the argument. They have to know what feminism has done to marriage, and they have to be willing to look at studies and see how those studies confirm and support the Bible’s teachings, not the least of which is male leadership. We need to teach women to choose good men, because in marriage, men lead, provide, protect, etc. And protecting includes apologetics. Those things should be the criteria for choosing a man, but right now, the church just has nothing to say to women about men and marriage.

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