Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter Isaiah 5:20
During the aftermath of the Second World War an international trial was held for some of the main perpetrators of Nazi war crimes. This court case captured the entire world’s attention – it became known as the Nuremberg Trials. A group of Hitler’s leading generals and officials were brought together to be cross examined and tried for horrific acts of human depravity and systematic genocide.
What was shocking about Nuremberg was the ordinariness of the defendants: men who may be good fathers, kind to animals, even unassuming–yet who committed unspeakable crimes. Years later, reporting on the trial of Adolf Eichmann, Hannah Arendt wrote of “the banality of evil.” Like Eichmann, most Nuremberg defendants never aspired to be villains. Rather, they over-identified with an ideological cause and suffered from a lack of imagination or empathy: they couldn’t fully appreciate the human consequences of their career-motivated decisions. (Linder, 2000).
In other words, seemingly respectable law abiding citizens had turned to cultural relativism. The belief that the general consensus of society (in this case a Nazi society) was morally correct. Its goals and aims were not evil, they were for the greater common ‘good’ of society. Evil had been deemed good and thus was no longer evil.
Isaiah witnessed ancient Judah following similar traits as it turned further from God. He warned of the impending justice that would be wrought by a righteous and Holy God. One that would ultimately judge sin and the sinner for failing to repent. Justice would be done.
Thousands of years later we see parallels occurring in a society that is far from Scripture, rather, it is culture. Relativism reigns and what is agreed to by the masses is deemed correct by the masses. Unfortunately when humanity creates morality based primarily on its own moral compass there is a problem. The compass is broken. Thus the destination always ends in disaster. History has shown this repeatedly. Cultural relativism does not work. Humanity needs to base its morality on something greater than itself. That is where a righteous and Holy God enters the equation. His ways are above ours (Isaiah 55:9).
In the twenty first century, assisted suicide is now being deemed good. It is compassionate, eliminates suffering, frees much needed hospital beds and if a person wants to die – let them – it is their choice after all. If a pregnant woman is in the ninth month and feels she is unable to cope – no problem – kill the baby. Abort it. After all, it would ruin the poor woman’s life (think of her career limitations). And, possibly most frightening, if two men want to get married have sex with each other in their bedroom and adopt a four year old child to share that space (potentially in a cot at the end of the bed), let them, what harm can it do? Two men having sex is natural. Is it? The Bible certainly does not think so (1 Cor 6:9, Rom 1:24-27).
If you stand up and pronounce that man and woman is the basis of marriage – then you are a bigot, a racist, in fact – you are evil. Welcome to cultural relativism where all that is good is called evil and all that is evil is called good.
Many of Isaiah’s prophecies have come true, yet an ominous warning still beckons within them. It calls from the past and speaks to the future. A Holy and righteous God will repay those that have promoted evil as good. They will not escape His Justice. During the Nuremberg trials some committed suicide. Others received life imprisonment. All were judged. Justice was served.
Where will you be standing on Judgement day?