The Ideology of Relativism is Unraveling
What is truth? This is the question that Pilate, a leader in the first century, asked Jesus. As a government leader, Pilate had authority (or at least he thought) to give consent for Jesus to be condemned or released from a death sentence. While the populace was hungry for an execution, Pilate was confronted with the reality that he could find no fault in Jesus.
To make matters worse, his wife wakes up from a disturbing dream and demands her husband should have nothing to do with this innocent man, Jesus. Confronted with his wife and his own conscience that testified to the innocence of Jesus, he decides to ignore these witnesses, and instead, he allows the desire to be accepted by the crowd counsel him rather than the voice of truth.
It’s here that Pilate becomes the first social constructivist by asking the question, “What is truth?” Questioning the absolute nature of truth is what allowed Pilate to violate his conscience and participate in handing Jesus off to those who would murder and torture a blameless person, God Himself. I’m sure Pilate said to himself something like, “Jesus says he’s innocent, but who is to say what innocence really means?”
This same question, “What is truth?” has given rise to many of our contemporary debates. Behind this age-old question lurks the ideology we currently term as social constructivism or relativism.
Relativism is the notion that reality is a result of human interactions and cultural interpretations — in other words, reality is subjective. This ideology is clearly evidenced in the debate regarding abortion and human sexuality. Truth and the debate about it is what frames the questions: What is a baby? What is a woman? What is a child? What does consent really mean?
First, the abortion issue, which we can’t forget largely owes its commercialized nature to the 20th century American eugenics movement. Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger once described her goal as reducing “the ever increasing, unceasingly spawning class of human beings who never should have been born at all.” Although Sanger herself disliked abortion, her love affair with eugenics inspired those who held no qualms with the procedure. Alan Guttmacher, a subsequent president of Planned Parenthood, emphasized that “emotional, moral, and religious concepts” must be separated from abortion. In other words, truth must be separated from abortion.
This is not to say proponents of abortion are in conscious agreement with eugenics. Rather, it is to illustrate the nefarious origins aimed at erasing certain people and human characteristics. Ultimately, the result of the abortion movement promotes parents, who are often struck by hardship or crisis, to turn away from their conscience and ask that age-old question, “What is truth?”
Once this question has been injected into the process, the unborn child can be rebranded as just a “bunch of cells.” On the other hand, if the child is wanted by the parents, it is conveniently termed a human being. This strikes at the heart of social constructivism where the “truth” is dependent on the situation.
Thankfully, with advances in medical science and ultrasound technology, it has become increasingly more difficult to deny the humanity of a baby inside the womb. Now, with the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, we will continue to see an unraveling of the threads that have been used to weave together the social constructionist arguments for abortion which have gripped swaths of our society.
But the abortion issue isn’t the only domain plagued by the constructivist ideology. More recently, if our children have been able to make it to full term in the womb, then proponents of gender ideology have come to legislate, teach, and counsel children into questioning the truth about their biology. The question, “What is truth?” hasn’t changed, it’s just dressed differently than with abortion proponents. Here, the ideology tells children that there’s no limit to how they can identify themselves, be it with a sex, an animal, and/or whatever aligns with their “true self.”
As we see with the Dobbs decision that overturned Roe v. Wade, only the truth endures. Sometimes we must wait for truth to prevail, but in the end, the Truth isn’t just a concept — it is a person, Jesus. He outlasts every social and ideological trend. In this, we can also be assured that the Truth can set our children free who have been fed a lie.
We can also take comfort as we watch the hold that constructivism has had on our society begin to further splinter with our highest court’s recent ruling. The Truth is winning. This is cause for celebration!
Dr. Jennifer Bauwens is the Director of the Center for Family Studies at Family Research Council.