You’ve all heard the one about the CEO hiring a head of accounting who asked each interviewee a simple question. “What is 2 plus 2?”
The first candidate answered “four,” and was told the company would get back to him. The same thing occurred with the next three candidates and all were dismissed with the same message.
The fifth candidate entered the room, heard the question and quickly replied, “What do you want it to be?” and left the room with a hefty offer of employment.
This joke is funny because of two things. First, it makes fun of accounting that can be manipulated to suit the desires of the company. But more than that, it is funny because if shows how absurd it is to believe right and wrong, true and not true, can accurately be determined by personal desire. The unchanging, fixed, unalterable, immutable and invariable truth of the matter is that 2 plus 2 is 4 on this Earth regardless of how you want to feel about it.
But today, that joke has become the law of the land. All across our society feelings are reigning sovereign over facts. The tsunami of social emotion is eroding the intelligent societal mind so quickly that those of us who still see the world through the truths of natural law are being branded societal terrorists.
Here’s the deal: Ethics, the standards by which we determine right and wrong behaviorally, are the result of convictions. Convictions are based on truth. And when the concept of truth is manipulated by self-interest to the extent that all truth becomes a lump of clay to mold according to personal desire, it is no wonder ethical behavior becomes whatever we want it to be.
“What is a woman?” What do you want it to be?
“What is human life?” What do you want it to be?
“What is justice?” What do you want it to be?
“What is family? What is morality? What is right, good, required, and true?”
Whatever I want them to be!
When each expressive individual, each psychologized self, is allowed to determine the answers, not only for themselves but also for the rest of us, we’re done as a civilization.
Too drastic a statement? Look around!
We used to fight for the right of free speech, but now we are being forced to defend free thought. We once were a people that invited political and ethical debate, but now to hold an opposing view is considered a grave threat to our democracy. We used to understand the need for religious freedom, but now we are being told that the rising secular ideology and historic religious theology are incompatible, since science has proven there is no such thing as the supernatural.
I have only one question. How is this new way of defining truth working for us?
Abortion allows us to define life according to our desires rather than reality. Transgenderism has allowed us to define male and female according to our desires rather than biology. Success has become something everyone gets now that it is based on being alive rather than hard work.
And worst of all, what is now considered right and true can be changed at any moment by those who desire to do so.
Clearly, we are not better as a nation. We are not united around basic “self-evident truths.” And we are not better at working through differences simply because we no longer have a solid, common, agreed-upon set of absolutes.
Remember the story about the emperor who was told that his new suit of clothes was invisible, that it was the finest, most elegant suit ever made, and only the most intelligent and worthy people could see it?
Wanting to be known as intelligent and worthy, he gladly “put on” the new clothes, mounted his horse and proudly rode through the city. Because he was the emperor, and because they all wanted to be recognized as intelligent and worthy, the townspeople lined the streets and praised the emperor’s new clothes. This made him believe all the more that his new suit was the finest in the land.
But you know the rest, right? A little boy who had no care to be thought of one way or another because he hadn’t yet been infected with the societal virus of considering untruths to be truth, cried out “He’s naked!”
And suddenly everyone, especially the emperor, realized that they were all naked. That is, their anti-truth wardrobe was seen for what it was: a façade created for self-promotion rather than the common good.
What our country needs are more courageous people who will look through little boys’ eyes, and call out the absurdity that has created the greatest pandemic ever. Truth is dying, and those who are killing it have somehow bullied the rest of us into disregarding their intellectual nakedness. Our society has allowed them to redefine life, sex, gender, success, hard work, merit, greatness, and any number of other fundamental elements that make up our existence as humans.
Let’s make 2023 a year where we stand firmly, courageously, yet winsomely against the tide of lies masquerading as truth. Let’s stand up to the bullies, declare their nakedness, and refuse to put up with their excrement any longer.
After all, I still think we’re in the majority. We just need to speak up.
Local resident David Hegg is senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church. “Ethically Speaking” appears Sundays.