This idea that the only things binding on an individual is whatever his or her personal perception of morality is has become rampant among our youth today. I have a ministry partner who for the last couple of years also teaches at a conservative Christian college in Southern California. He has told me of how consistently he faces moral relativistic beliefs held by the students each year. He offered one example that is typical: he asked his students to pick a topic and defend it as a writing assignment. A young science major chose to write a defense against the use of embryonic stem cells in research, leveraging such appropriate arguments as how life begins at conception in her paper. However, when asked what the student would do if she discovered that her lab partners were using embryos in research, she replied that she couldn't tell them what to do. Their beliefs are different from hers, so she felt that she had no right to push her morality on another. While her paper read as though she was a moral absolutist, further digging showed that she was only applying that standard to herself, not others.
The Danger of Believing RelativismThis kind of thinking is how tyranny is born. If one cannot tell another his actions are evil, then they will continue until those that would dare to oppose immorality are themselves labeled as immoral. We have seen this in the criminal prosecution of Christians who simply wish to not be a part of homosexual unions. They are fined and their businesses closed down, really only acts of vengeance for nothing more than holding to a moral standard. And now, the kids we send to college hold not the belief that they cannot stand their moral ground, but that they should not stand their moral ground, because to do so is itself an immoral act!
Christians of all people should know that sin is sin regardless of whether one believes it to be or not. If moral precepts are true, then they are binding on all of humanity. Imagine if Nazi Germany was to have won World War II and Hitler was successful in his genocide of the Jewish people. Now, imagine 2014 in such an alternate timeline where every last soul on earth believes that Hitler was the savior of humanity for carrying out such a feat. Would that make it right? Could it ever be right simply because of popular consensus? Of course not!
Where's the Church?The problem of moral relativism isn't going to go away, especially since the secular culture thrives on it. It is the one way everyone can do what is right in his own eyes and not feel bad about him or herself. Rather, we as the Church need to be doing more to help our young people see that moral relativism isn't merely a non-Christian position. It is in fact a contradiction to the Christian worldview. I think one way to do that is to make sure you have regularly scheduled "hard questions" nights in your youth ministry where kids can ask questions that they face in school. You may want to do this once a month, with each month designated on a certain topic. One month may be about premarital sex, while the next is euthanasia, and a third talking about the legalization of mind-altering drugs.
Youth pastors shouldn't be pushovers here, either, Make sure you investigate the nature of the kids' questions and ask more questions yourself. Have the kids role play as if they were discussing this with an unbelieving student or even perhaps a hostile professor so they hear real objections and they learn how to respond in different circumstances. Have your group go through good books on apologetics and cultural issues, or pass out articles that make the case for natural marriage or why the embryo is just as valuable as any other human being. Talk about why moral relativism itself fails.
The Christian church needs to take this epidemic seriously. Kids not will simply "catch" the Christian worldview from their parent's action and example. We must talk with them about these things, and we need to start right now. To wait any longer could be deadly.