Brother Ron Barnes
Founder and Pastor
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Objectivism, Subjectivism and Relativism
Dear Brother Ron
What are objectivism, subjectivism and relativism in terms of religious
studies? How would these apply to homosexuality?
Objectivism is the ethical position that certain acts are objectively right
or wrong. Personal opinions do not enter into the equation. Using objective
data, the act is either right all the time or wrong all the time. An
objective person would come to this conclusion every time for every
Subjectivism holds that the nature and existence of every object depends
solely on someone's subjective awareness of it. Judgments of right and wrong
depend on the individual's perception of those acts and how they relate to
his internal value system.
Relativism holds that moral or ethical propositions do not reflect objective
and/or universal moral truths, but instead depend on social , cultural ,
historical or personal circumstances. In other words, an act may be right or
wrong, depending on these circumstances.
How these apply to homosexuality or any other behavior depends on your
spiritual perspective. If you believe that God's law, as interpreted by
religious organizations, is absolute, then behaviors are either right or
wrong for everybody, all the time, no exceptions. A person using such
standards would rely on an external definition of such behaviors, since any
personal definition would not be objective.
If, however, you believe that we are each free to set our own standards of
right and wrong, you are the only relevant judge of your behavior. My
problem with this is it does not take into account the effect of your
behavior on others. If I believe that only I can determine what is right for
me, then I would consider how my behavior affects you to be irrelevant.
Those who are offended or harmed by my behavior might disagree.
Judging the correctness of an act based on relative circumstances
necessarily involves a personal interpretation of the person's relationship
to his environment. If I see a certain event from a certain perspective, I
might consider it entirely appropriate to react one way. Somebody seeing the
same thing from a different perspective might consider my reactions totally
So I guess it all depends on whether you value the standards of religious
organizations, other people or yourself. Personally, I like to ask God for
guidance. By going directly to the source, I avoid those with organizational
agendas. Besides, I consider any human values (including my own) imperfect