Absolute and Relative
“You alone are the
Lord!” (Nehemiah, 9:6)
Once upon a time, Nieque asked Wangli: “Did you know that there is
an absolute standard for everything?” Mr. Wang answered: “How should I
know?” Nieque was disappointed. Later, Wangli asked: “Why are you
disappointed? Even though, I don’t know what it is, I may know, what I don’t
know. You see, when people live in damp place, they get arthritis and die.
While loaches live in the same place and won’t be hurt. When a person climbs
a high treetop, they may be scared, but a monkey won’t. People, loaches, and
monkeys all live in different places, what is the standard? People like to
eat meat, deer like to eat grass, centipedes like to eat snake, crow like to
eat rats, which food is the standard?”
There are lots of things are relatively in this world. For
example, people that live in the Northern China like to eat pasta, people
live in Southern China like to eat rice. We cannot force others to be like
us. However, there are many things that are absolute, for example, everyone
needs to eat. When people are hungry, they will start looking for food. How
then do we distinguish between what is absolute and what is relative requires
God is absolute, because there is no higher authority. Do
Christians have their own choice? If everything is arranged by God, how can
people have freedom? This is a misunderstanding of the absoluteness of God.
God is absolute and does not restrict people’s freedom, but protects it.
Without the absolute, absoluteness becomes relative. Just as freedom without
restrictions is not freedom. If there are no traffic laws, everyone drives
the way they want, then it will become chaos and nobody will be able to
move. If a society has no absolute laws, anyone can have relative power of
not obeying the laws, just like President Obama, and then what good are laws
for? Society would be in chaos with no respect for law. The existence of
relative is based on the existence of the absolute. If there is an absolute,
then everyone would need to obey.
In ethics, there is a principle of “situational ethics”, which only
considers love as the principle of ethics. Everything has to be measured by
love. For the sake of love, all illegal immigrant youth should be granted a
stay, because of love. However, God is both love and justice. The essence of
love and righteousness are absolute. But combining them together will make
them relative. How do we balance love and righteousness? We need the wisdom
from God through prayer.