Is morality objective or subjective? The existence of good and evil and the concept of objective truth is hotly debated these days. Culture seems to be a tide pulling us slowly but steadily away from the anchor of truth to a more relative reality. Let’s consider for the sake of our recovery what difference objective and subjective truth have on our lives and what the world looks like through the lens of each.
The term objective means unbiased, unprejudiced truth, a fact of nature. It is not swayed by our feelings or thoughts about it.
Subjective means influenced by our feelings or personal opinions.
This matters to addiction recovery for many different reasons. While we were in addiction, we did many things we weren’t proud of. We lived in the shadows of subjectivity. Everything we did was based on how we felt in the moment. If someone shorted us, they did us wrong, if we shorted someone else, we were just doing what we had to do. Nobody enjoys stealing from Grandma, but we had to do what we had to do to get our fix… Right?
Wrong. We know it is wrong now just like we knew it was wrong then. The difference is that our moral compass is pointed a little more north now that we have got that junk out of our systems. See, something wasn’t “less wrong” back then just because we had to do it to get a fix. We just perceived it as less wrong so that we could do it without the guilt that comes along with messing up.
To the atheist and agnostic, there is no such thing as objective moral truth. This doesn’t mean all atheists are sociopaths, it just means that they have no hook to hang their coat on when it comes to moral objectivity. When pressed hard, many atheists state that there moral compass is based on their own feelings and opinions. This is all well and good until someone comes along whose “truth” doesn’t match the “truth” of others. G.K. Chesterton once said “Don’t ever take a fence down until you know the reason it was put up.” Christians believe the reason the fence of objective moral reality is there is because as humans, God has given us all intrinsic worth. If I do something to violate you or your worth, I have done the wrong thing. If I affirm your worth, I’ve done the right thing.
When you start dismantling this fence, you begin devaluing human life. When it is torn down, evil awaits to make it’s debut. Without a moral law, we can’t even make the assertion that addiction is evil and recovery is good.
Many cry “If God existed, how could he allow such atrocities to affect mankind?” Well, when you assume there is such a thing as evil, you must assume there is such a thing as good. If good and evil exist, there must be a moral law. If there is a moral law, there must be a moral law giver, but that is who they are trying to disprove. It’s logically inconsistent.
The reason this matters is because if people don’t think they’re doing the wrong thing, they won’t stop. Step one is about admittance. Admitting that we are powerless over our tendency to do the wrong thing. Christianity offers a solution. Since we have no ability in and of ourselves to stop the evil of addiction, God came down and sacrificed Himself as a ransom for our sins. All the wrong we committed in our addiction has been nailed to a cross. We are now dead to the man who chooses evil, through faith in Him, we are able to do good. So, experientially, what do you think? Does a moral law exist? If so, God must exist. And if he exists, we have hope in our recovery.