Were the Nazis wrong to murder millions of Jews? Is it wrong to practice human sacrifice? These questions may seem like obvious no-brainers. But prepare yourself for a shock. Many young people today consider genocide and human sacrifice open questions. Philosophy professor Robert Simon has taught about the Holocaust at Hampton College for 20 years. Lately Simon has noticed a troubling trend: Up to 20 percent of his students are unwilling to say that mass murder is immoral. Oh, they usually say they disapprove of what the Nazis did—but they consider this merely their own personal taste. "Of course I dislike the Nazis," one student told Simon. "But who is to say they [were] morally wrong?" Simon has named this moral malady "absolutophobia"—the fear of making absolute moral judgments. The same phenomenon has been witnessed by a creative writing professor at Pasadena City College. In the Chronicle of Higher Education, Kay Haugaard says that she teaches about Shirley Jackson's famous short story, "The Lottery," a chilling story of human sacrifice. For many years, Haugaard writes, "Jackson's message about blind conformity always spoke to my students' sense of right and wrong." But these days a class discussion of the story yields no moral criticism. As one student explained, "If it is a part of a person's culture, we are taught not to judge." How did we reach a point where young people refuse to condemn mass murder and human sacrifice? The answer is that, as children, these kids were spoon-fed moral relativism along with their ABCs. In grade school, they were probably subjected to various forms of "values clarification," a method that teaches kids that morality is merely a matter of personal preference—that no value judgments are right or wrong. When these kids reached high school, they were doubtless taught the tenets of multiculturalism, in which moral truths are reduced to cultural values, none of which is morally superior to any others. And when they reached college? There they would have been exposed to postmodernism, which teaches that values are all relative to race, gender, and ethnicity, and that any statements of moral truth are merely attempts to exert power over others and oppress them. Clearly, many of today's students have learned their lessons well: They exhibit a severe case of absolutaphobia when they can't even bring themselves to raise moral objections to genocide and human sacrifice. They reject all moral absolutes as restrictions on their freedom. But what they don't realize is that moral absolutes are our only guarantee of freedom. Without a set of transcendent moral truths that are above individual cultures and preferences, it is impossible to protect human rights. The Christian doctrine of general revelation tells us that we all share a common human nature. As a result, we can often agree with nonbelievers on basic principles, such as honesty, courage, and respect for others. You and I ought to support efforts that teach our kids the values on which most citizens can agree. We must help our neighbors and our children understand that without moral absolutes, there is nothing to stop the culture from drifting back toward human sacrifice… or from embracing another Holocaust.


Chuck Colson


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