The Good, The True, & The Beautiful

“Every good gift cometh down from above, from the Father of lights; with whom there is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” James 1:17

How do you judge what is good and what is evil? How do you determine what is true and what is false? How do you distinguish between the beautiful and the vulgar?

We are living in an age of relativism. Our society no longer believes in moral absolutes. To the modern man, morality and truth are matters of personal preference. There is no right or wrong. Tolerance of other viewpoints is the new standard of virtue.

Even beauty is measured subjectively today. In music, literature, art, and fashion, the crass, the crude, and the vulgar is celebrated. Consider the popularity of dissonant music, like modern “rap”, in the light of the more symmetrical melodies of Bach, or Chopin, or Handel. Someone may reply, “Well, to each his own; beauty is in the eye (or the ear, as the case may be) of the beholder. You prefer one style and they prefer another.”

Indeed, I freely acknowledge that there is a place for tolerance. I know that people have different tastes and preferences. Every Christian does not have to like classical music, or wear a certain fashion, or vote a particular party line. These are matters of Christian liberty (1 Cor. 8; Rom. 14). But, what is happening in our world today is something even more radical than a mere difference in taste. Ours is a day in which values are turned upside-down. Light is put for darkness and darkness for light; sweet is called bitter and bitter sweet; good is now evil and evil good (Is. 5:20). Thinking is so distorted and convoluted today that the sinister and the sinful is glorified and the simple and sublime is vilified.

Our young people are especially susceptible to the negative influences of this topsy-turvy world. For their own spiritual safety, we (as parents and guides) must never tire of reminding them that God is the source of what is true, what is right and good, and what is beautiful. “Every good gift comes down from above…” Because God exists, there is such a thing as right and wrong, truth and falsehood, beauty and vulgarity. His word is our reference point, our absolute standard, our benchmark to discern the sacred from the profane. Wise is the person who lives his life in the awareness that God is real. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

– Michael Gowens