What got me thinking about this topic was a talk in church last Sunday by the high councilman, on assignment from the Stake President. His talk was on moral integrity. His point being that we have too many shades of grey, and not enough black and white. I have pondered this for some time now, as in my own ward people fall into two different categories, the idealists, and the realists. Neither group can really understand the view point of the other.
The idealists, want things to be black and white. Everything must be done according to policy and procedure, we must strictly obey, or risk the condemnation of God. To me their thinking seems to fall in line with the law of Moses.
The realists, see things in more shades of grey. They are more interested in the individual, and less concerned about the policy and procedure. The realists also allow for free agency, and understand that consequences are a natural result of that free agency.
If you have read any part of my blog, you know that I am a realist. I don't see the world in black and white, but I do see a lot of grey. I don't see a lot of absolute, but more situational specific. This is was exactly what the high councilman was warning against. Relativism. In the church it is a concept that frightens a lot of people. It is a concept that some believe stems from Satan. I do not. I think it is a higher way of thinking.
For some people idealism is well...ideal. You don't have to exercise independent thinking or free agency, you simply follow, with the belief that you are commended to obey, and therefore you will obey. By dotting every "i" and crossing every "t" and following the letter of every law, commandment, and guidance given by Church leaders your salvation is assured, or at least you have a good shot. For me as a realist these type of people can be frustrating. Its like they are missing the forest through the trees. While I disagree with their thinking, I don't fault them for their thinking. In their individual growth they have not come to a place yet where they can independently think and exercise free agency. Its much easier for them to be told what to do, rather than have to make the decision on their own.
My realism or relativism, as some would call it, comes both from the generation I grew up in along with the life experience I have had. I grew up in a generation that never accepted authority blindly. Questioning authority was the norm and the answer "because I said so." was not acceptable. I grew up in a generation that was more concerned with the individual than the group. I grew up in a generation where societal change has been on the fast track. My generation is one of continual shift and change, nothing is static, nothing is concrete, nothing is sure. Relativism is my generation.
Relativism has allowed me to focus on the individual. Relativism has allowed me to love in a Christ like way, over looking conduct or choices I would not have chosen, but also realizing that I don't walk in that persons shoes, so how can I say I would not have made those same choices. Relativism has allowed me think and pray about the choices and decision I make in my life, so that when I make that choice, I am making it because its what best for me, not because I am following blindly. Those choices then became an inherent part of me, and make me stronger, than if I had just made the choice because I was told to.
Relativism is who I am, part of my thinking, part of my decision making, and I am glad.