Wisdom and Absurdity
John Stuart Mill said, “That which seems the height of absurdity in one generation often becomes the height of wisdom in the next.” He had a point. And I think the reverse is also true: That which seems the height of wisdom in one age may come to be seen as the height of absurdity a generation or two down the road. In both cases, the reason is that men’s evaluation of such things is always shifting.
Consider our country’s view of marriage. A couple of generations ago, the very idea of legalized same-sex marriage would have been (in fact, was) considered ridiculous. Now it’s established law, and there’s no denying that many regard it as “the height of wisdom.” On the other hand, increasing numbers of people think it absurd to say that marriage is a lifelong commitment, or that sex outside of marriage is immoral, or that wives should be subject to the authority of their husbands. But a couple of generations ago that thinking was pretty much the norm, even if people didn’t always live up to it.
Meanwhile, the Bible’s teaching on all these matters has remained unchanged through the centuries (see 1 Corinthians 6:9; Romans 7:2-3; Hebrews 13:4; Colossians 2:18). Unlike constantly “evolving” human opinions and cultural trends, the divine wisdom revealed in Scripture is stable and sure. It would be truly absurd for us to build on anything less.