When the other person does it, you call it “lying,” but when you tell the cop, “I know I wasn’t speeding,” you’re just bending the truth a bit—good business, you know. When you falsified your resume when you applied for a job, inflating your salary for previous jobs and expanding your educational background (who is going to call the school and check on the years you were there?), you cloaked it in a term which has become widely used—misinformation. Besides, stretching the truth serves your purpose and you get away with it, so what?
Bill Gates is filthy rich, right? He’s got more money than he could ever count in a lifetime, and you don’t, that’s for sure; so if you can duplicate the software your buddy has and save some money and get away with it, wouldn’t it be smart to do that?
Today we are confronted with far more than software piracy, or bending the truth a bit here or there. We are in the midst of a culture war, and the deception of pragmatism—that means, if it works, do it; if you can get away with it, why not?—has engulfed our generation much as the fog that gradually drifts in, obscuring our vision, and blighting our lives.
Years ago I sold a house before we moved to the Philippines, and the first person to look at our home offered the full asking price. Then a second person took me aside and said, “Hey, if you take my offer I’ll give you a $1,000 more than this guy!” “There’s no way my integrity could be bought for $1,000,” I told him, adding, “I gave him my word.” My brother, hearing the story said, “Hey, he should have tried $5,000.”
Fascinating was a research project when an interviewer asked women if they would ever betray their husband’s trust. Then when they said, “No,” the question followed, “Would you do it for $1,000,000?” And suddenly the whole equation of fidelity changed. “Yes,” replied more than a few, “that’s different.”
Our culture today is one based on pragmatism, a philosophy founded by psychologist William James who, in the year 1907, posed this situation: “Granting an idea or belief to be true,” it says, “what concrete difference will its being true make in anyone’s actual life? How will the truth be realized? What experiences will be different from those which would obtain if the belief were false? What, in short, is the truth’s cash-value in experiential terms?” (Pragmatism, 1907, www.pragmatism.org/ Aug. 3, 2005).
Pragmatism means truth is not absolute but is subject to changing situations and circumstances, and the real test of something is your feelings about yourself and the issue. What’s good for you? And how does this make you feel?” No wonder the Russian writer Igor Dostoevsky in The Brothers Kamarozov wrote, “If there is no God, then anything is permissible.”
What’s the bottom line? You’ve got to decide whether you will allow yourself to be swept away by a moral relativism today, a pragmatism that allows you to do anything that feels good, anything that you can get away with (outside of prison or getting shot by an offended husband), or whether you will choose the path that is narrow, where many choose not to walk, but which is blessed by God. Remember, Jesus said, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it” (Matthew 7:13).
With every choice there are consequences, and when you are borne on the tide of pragmatism, you have no anchor for your soul. Instead of freedom, you end up in bondage of the worst kind. Instead of walking towards the light, you become engulfed in a darkness that destroys you. Remember, it’s your choice.
Resource Reading: Acts 5:1-11
Text: For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish. Psalm 1:6
GUIDELINES with Harold Sala – September 26, 2017