Like it or not, we live in a world that considers it a virtue to deny the existence of truth. Our students are being indoctrinated into a postmodern worldview daily in the classroom, through music, movies, television, and even politics. There was a time when truth was sacred and valued and embraced. It was considered the independent standard by which we measured our existence within reality. Truth, however, is now under fire.
Truth has now become much more flexible and personalized. It is now taught as something intimately connected with one’s experience. Truth is what you make of it. It can be different for different people, change based on current moods and desired lifestyles. As a result, we have created a space that allows for opposing beliefs to own equal strains of truth. The only acceptable degree of truth is one of cultural relativism.
In one sense, this kind of thinking seems perfectly harmless. In some ways, it almost sounds utopic. Everyone gets along, and no one is ever wrong. It sounds nice, but in reality, cannot work.
But what happens when we start talking about things like morality, differing worldviews, and religions? What happens if I throw the Bible and Jesus into the mix? If we stick to a relativistic way of seeing the world, objective truth is tossed out with the rest of the outdated culture fads we once knew and loved. So for the Christian, when we hold to such outlandish beliefs like traditional marriage or define homosexuality as sin people are outraged and Christians are reduced to exclusive unloving, unaccepting, bigots.
So how can we help our children not only understand the importance of truth but fight against the current cultural trends? Let me offer two quick, simple things you can do to help your kids not only embrace truth and help dismantle relativism’s firm hold on culture; but also create some space for them to champion the truth of Jesus in their culture.
Truth should be a regular topic of discussion.
Teaching apologetics to students for the better part of a decade has helped me see that some of the brightest students had a hard time accepting Jesus as the only way. Conversely, they had no issue at all looking to Jesus as a self-help guru that had one of many ways to be saved, get to heaven or the like. My lessons on truth were often met with allegations of arrogance. And if you make truth a regular part of the discussion in your youth group or home, you will too.
Be gracious and loving. Listen carefully to what your children are saying. Ask lots of questions. Try and figure out why they think what they think. Remember, most of them have been taught to let experience and emotion be their guide in determining what it true. Regular discussions will help flush some of that out of their system and reorient them to a truth grounded in reality.
Help them understand the difference between subjective and objective truth
To do that, you’ll need to provide some basic tools necessary for the task. They will need to learn some fundamentals. Now if you have ever tried to teach truth, or grab few books on the subject, you soon realized there is just too much to digest unless you’re planning on writing a dissertation on the subject. So if nothing else, teach them one thing. Teach them the difference between subjective truth and objective truth.
I had the opportunity a year ago to teach this to multiple groups of students. Not sure how it would go over, I was greatly encouraged by the attentiveness, but a willingness to dive deeper, learn more. They not only wanted to understand, but they wanted the confidence to talk to their peers about it as well. If you want your students to embrace Jesus as the way, truth, and the life; and you want them to exude the confidence and conviction necessary to make disciples in the spaces that God has placed them, then this simple lesson is a must.
We all want our students to be experts in knowing the Word and living it out. But the postmodern, relativistic culture they live in has devalued the Bible and delegitimized Jesus—filtering out so much of what we want them to learn and how God desires them to live. Teaching students the nature of truth removes that filter and allows the Word to penetrate.
It is a hard conversation, but one worth having.