“Absolutes.” The concept is radically impacting youth and their families. Two examples from the past few weeks will help demonstrate this. Absolute truth is what Bible believing Christians contend is available for all people at all times through all of history. However, anyone believing in any kind of god needs to believe in absolutes. Recently, the sports world brought one of the greatest absolute value clashes between three cultural gods in recent memory.
Cultural god number one is sports. This god’s absolutes are called rules. These rules help guarantee that all participants have a fair chance in the competition. Every sport has a clearly defined rule set.
Cultural god number two is called relativism. This god says that an individual can make up his or her own absolutes. One person can believe anything he or she wants to believe as long as another person has the right to believe something different.
Cultural god number three is money with a close relative to this god being power. This god’s absolute says any course of action is acceptable provided more money is acquired.
Now that I’ve given a brief definition to these cultural gods, let’s examine two sports events that allowed these gods to clash. First is the Super Bowl. Over one billion people tune in to watch this new holiday event. The half time show is lauded as the year’s biggest annual concert where Katy Perry was hired to strut her stuff. Advertisers pour $4.5 million per commercial in order to grab the viewer’s attention for their products. Football, like all sports, is designed with absolutes. It was learned on the Monday following the New England Patriots winning the AFC Championship that they cheated. What is worse is that the team they played the week before had given tips that this cheating had occurred, meaning it was not a one time event. Let the “god” clash begin. Sports need clear rules in order for this god to exist in its most true form. Violating the rules means absorbing penalties. However, god number two quickly stepped into the picture. People were heard on live television making statements such as “deflating the footballs didn’t change the outcome of the game”, “the Patriots would have won anyway”, “it wasn’t that big of a deal”, “everybody cheats; they just got caught.”
Contrast this event with the disqualification of Jackie Robinson West and the title they won in the Little League Championship series. JRW had illegal rostered players because adults recruited players outside the legal boundaries for their team. The Little League organizers acted quickly and took away JRW’s crown. The response from commentators and media specialists allowed relativism to emerge once again. The comments heard on the news were, “those poor boys have to suffer for the rest of their lives because of a few adults.” The reality is that these boys will remember this for the rest of their lives. There will be disappointment, but there will also be a lesson about ethics and morality.
So why did JRW get disqualified but the New England Patriots didn’t? Enter cultural god number 3. In time, sanctions may be handed down upon the Pats, but imagine what would have happened if one of the titan football teams headed to the Super Bowl championship had been disqualified. The implications could have put advertising dollars at risk. Viewers may have boycotted watching the event. Instead, nothing was done immediately and now three weeks later people have moved on. By the time any discipline is handed down, it will be a small matter. When money and power were not an issue, the absolutes of god number one helped make the JRW decision a simple one.
As we live in a culture wrestling with many gods to follow, I’m reminded of Paul’s experience from Acts 17 in Athens. He said, “I see that in every way you are very religious. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: To an Unknown God. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you.” We live in a culture wrestling with many gods. The church buildings and occasional crosses we see hanging in prominent places have become altars to an Unknown God for the 50% of our population that doesn’t have a thought about God in a given day. (statistic from Dr. Gary Davis, New England Evangelistic Development, Inc.) As we continue to live in this culture, recognize that opening people’s eyes to the one true God is opening their eyes to an Unknown God amongst many.