What kind of man ought you to be? What kind of man ought you to look for?
II Samuel 23:8ff
These things are written for our admonition
I Corinthians 10:11 – “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.”
Mighty Men – Strong, Valorous, Champion, and Hero
Joshua 6:2 - 2And the LORD said unto Joshua, See, I have given into thine hand Jericho, and the king thereof, and the mighty men of valour.
Judges 11:1 - 1Now Jephthah the Gileadite was a mighty man of valour
VALOR MEANS COURAGEOUS
Courage – Knowing that trouble is coming and not fleeing that trouble. [Our Lord in the Garden]
Fortitude – Remaining under pressure [Our Lord on the Cross]
What kind of men were they:
I Samuel 22:2 - And every one that was in distress, and every one that was in debt, and every one that was discontented, gathered themselves unto him; and he became a captain over them: and there were with him about four hundred men.
Distress – In a strait – extreme anxiety, sorrow, or pain
In Debt – They owe people money
Discontent – Angry, bitter [At who or what we do not know]
No attempt to sanitize this, but these men were disagreeable to say the least. They had the power to say “No”, to assert their will – sometimes winning and sometimes losing.
I Samuel 23:9-10
I Samuel 23:11
I Samuel 23:20-21
All men fled the Lord in His time of need.
I Samuel 23: 22:23
Honor and Glory and Blessing unto Christ – Revelation 5:13 And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: “Blessing and honor and glory and power Be to Him who sits on the throne, And to the Lamb, forever and ever!”
Proverbs 17:17 - A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.
II Samuel 23:24 - Asahel the brother of Joab was one of the thirty; Elhanan the son of Dodo of Bethlehem,
II Samuel 2:32 - And they took up Asahel, and buried him in the sepulchre of his father, which was in Bethlehem. And Joab and his men went all night, and they came to Hebron at break of day.
Brother to Christ – Hebrews 2:11-12 11For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, 12Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee.
Friend to Christ – John 15:13-15 Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. 14“You are My friends if you do what I command you. 15“No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.
Fathers and Sons
II Samuel 23:20 – The things you cultivate now will determine the kinds of men you will raise.
Beniah 23:21 A goodly Man – I Chronicles 11:23 A man of great measure [A Giant]
David – I Samuel 17
Who led them
David Giant killer
King of Israel
Man after God’s own heart
The kind of man one needs to be in order to lead such men – to be a leader of men.
Christ the kind of man to lead us
Holy – Never sinning
Wise in confounding the Pharisees
Faithful in never leaving us or forsaking us
Courageous in enduring the cross and the Father’s judgement
The Messiah Warrior
How lust destroys mighty men – Uriah II Samuel 23:39
How Christ can save you from your sin.
Rousseau, writing in Emile, observes,
"There is much discussion as to the characteristics of a good tutor. My first requirement, and it implies a good many more, is that he should not take up his task for reward. There are callings so great that they cannot be undertaken for money without showing our unfitness for them; such callings are those of the soldier and the teacher.
Plato records the Stranger in Sophist,
Then now, Theaetetus, his art may be traced as a branch of the appropriative, acquisitive daily - which hunts animals, - living - land - tame animals; which hunts man, - privately - for hire, - taking money in exchange - having the semblance of education; and this is termed Sophistry, and is a hunt after young men of wealth and rank - such is the conclusion.
Or as Aristotle recounts in On Sophistical Refutations,
...the art of the sophist is the semblance of wisdom without the reality, and the sophist is one who makes money from an apparent but unreal wisdom.
School is expensive and why wouldn't be seeing the Federal government wants a piece of that pie along with things like finance, healthcare and housing. The government's portfolio is "well diversified" shall we say. Everyone "deserves" a house. In 2007, we found out that probably was not the best piece of worldview advice. In 2020, everyone "deserves" a college education and the quality of the advice hasn't changed, but the cost of college has.
In fact, one observer notes that the cost of college has increased eight times faster than wages. And up and up it goes. In order to sweeten the deal, in this COVID season prices have not gone down though many school have opted for an online learning environment. So while the cost of college goes up, the quality of the service goes down. Sounds like the scheming of Professor McMonkey McBean and his now famous Star-off Machine.
But wait there's more. The schools and universities themselves are, on the point of virtue, voracious dumpster fires. Anthony Esolen writes in Out of the Ashes, "There are two things wrong with our schools - everything our children don't learn in them, and everything they do learn. Public schools are beyond reform; we have to start over." Regarding Universities he writes, "Our universities ares as bad as our schools. A few can be saved, but for the most part, we must build new ones." Think safe spaces, trigger warnings, and micro-aggressions - 21st century sophistry.
Still the price goes up as we make our way to be Starbelly Sneeches.
But what of the relationship between money and education. The Ancients would have us believe something crazy like, education is meant to shape the soul, shape the affect. Nowadays education is all about jobs and how much money you can make with that job. It stands to reason that if money is the goal then perhaps money (i.e student loans) is also the means to that goal. But if education is not about jobs or money, but about the formation of the soul, about the increase of virtue or human excellence, then the focus on money poses something of a problem.
The Scriptures tell us that the love of money is the root of all evil. "Love" here is derived from "fila" which has the connotation of "fondness". Similar language is found in James where he writes that love of the world (fondness of the world) is enmity with God. What is more, don't you find it interesting that of all the things Scripture juxtaposes God and mammon in that no man can serve two masters. To serve money precludes one's inability to serve God.
Education concerns the good, true, and beautiful. Educational institutions which seek the bottom line above or equal to being physicians of the soul corrupt, contaminate, compromise the very nature and quality of that for which they exist - to educate. What is more, given the reputation of money, even if the good, true, and beautiful are dispensed without corruption, the charge clearly remains.
For example, such an arrangement is something akin to bribery. Say some incredulous mobster has some unscrupulous judge on his payroll. The judge is on the take. Say further that on some fateful day the mobster must appear before said judge and on that day, while the judge is on the take he dispenses his verdict and say the verdict goes against the mobster. What does the verdict say about the unscrupulous judge?
Well it says a lot of things, and one of those things is that the judge takes money from criminals for the expressed purpose of subverting the truth. Did the judge subvert the truth in declaring his verdict? Does it matter? Perhaps he took a greater bribe from a different mob boss. Maybe the judge has some axe to grind. Maybe the judge was promised a seat on a higher court in exchange for a miscarriage of justice. The point is, the reputation and declarations of the judge are suspect because he is regularly paid to judge concerning what is true and he is often beholden to his crooked financial handlers.
The same goes for school teachers and professors. At the time of writing this post I count myself among the latter. If we fail students then parents gripe and enrollment goes down. Enrollment is king. At my school I suppose the professors are relatively free to state their convictions and opinions. Still, in other school we know this is not the case. A quick search of the mighty Google and you can easily find professors being fired for all kinds of supposed sins and transgressions.
"You better not use a word that sounds like a forbidden word."
"You better use everyone's preferred pronouns."
"Remember white skinned people are bad, the only purveyors of racism. In fact, nothing is worse than a straight white educated Christian male. I mean, if Satan were real he would be a straight white educated Christian male."
So professors kowtow. They bow the knee, and teach horse crap in the place of what it good, true, and beautiful. They destroy and malform souls for that almighty paycheck whether it pays in prestige, grants, or USD.
For those who don't play the role of surf, their message falls under suspicion. Suppose a successful president of a college goes off the rails and compromising pictures and stories start to surface. The board knows. Faculty knows. They knew before the pictures that the president did not embody the character and mission of the school, but said nothing. Why? I hope it wasn't for that prestige or grant or paycheck. Whether it was or it wasn't the message from the board and faculty now comes under suspicion. What else were they too afraid to tell us?
What if we were free from the oppression and suspicion that comes with being paid in dollars to be truth-tellers? Maybe we shouldn't be paid in dollars to be physicians of the soul. My grandmother once said while looking at the brood of children the Lord blessed me with, "Some people are so poor all they have is money." Maybe the truth-teller's wealth should never be in acquiring grants or tenured paychecks. Rather, might it be that the truth-teller's wealth comes in the formation of souls, in the propagation of the good, true, and beautiful, and the change that such things bring to the world.
"Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." - Matthew 6:19-21
There are all kinds of ways to be rich. Perhaps it is time the truth-tellers of this world seek their riches in other places than those inhabited by marauding moths and the langolier.
Apocalypse...a revealing. 2020 has not been a zombie apocalypse or a nuclear apocalypse. Rather, 2020 has been an apocalypse, a revealing of humanity and its several institutions: federal government, state government, local government, churches, synagogues, and universities; not to mention high-schools, middle-schools, grocery stores, restaurants, and gyms.
The veil was pulled back and we are seeing more of each other. Not in the come-over-to-my-place-and-watch-the-game kind but rather the soul-ish kind, the unvarnished mirror-mirror-on-the-wall kind. And what did we find? Did you like what you found out about your neighbor or mayor or Facebook friends? How about that stranger who looked at you askance for wearing a mask in the beginning or not wearing one near the end? What did you think about her?
Certainly there is much to say about all the goings on in our several communities whether it be facts fact checked by factual fact checkers or doublespeak parading as news. But perhaps the greatest revealing of them all is our obvious and alarming lack of community. People we thought would behave one way chose, to our shock and awe, a path quite the opposite. Some pastors closed their churches. Who would do such a thing!? Some left them open. Who would do such a thing?!
We don't know each other. Shucks, some of us don't know our own spouses, let alone the machinations of some governor or mayor across the state or across the country. Why don't we? The answer would drown most in a typhoon of words, systems, pundits, books, but I would like to offer two propositions. We in the West have embraced the Fake and have abandoned a common transcendent source of meaning.
We have embraced the Fake. We watch fake news, vote for fake politicians, play in fake worlds, attend fake church, and eat the most delicious fake potatoes. I'm lovin' it. Real is impossible. If I'm real, people will know my house is a mess, that I really don't look that good in person, and worst of all, I can't live up to my own standards. Sinner. Loser. Failure. So we fake it. We fake it 'til the Apocalypse comes, then comes the Mad Max bits.
We have abandoned a common transcendent source of meaning. When the world looks like that of a Javelin- driving, shotgun-wielding Mel Gibson, everyone is on their own - fighting, scraping, clawing for another day of existence. A transcendent source of meaning takes us beyond this world, beyond the immediate, animal, and pedestrian. In a fake world there is little place for such a source. But in a real world, in an apocalyptic world, that place begins to widen and apparent need for that source becomes more urgent.
Our world is an apocalyptic world and the greatest of apocalyptic events came 2,000 years ago at the archetypal Apocalypse, the revealing of God manifest in the flesh in the person of Jesus Christ. He is the Real. He is the Meaning. He is the Great Apocalypse even with all the Mad Max bits.
Before we can discuss the nature of the Christian Scriptures it is important first to understand the nature of the discussion itself. Discussing the nature of theological formulation and expression is important in at lease one major way, the topic discussed (i.e. theology) is a sacred enterprise. Theology is an act of worship as the theologian employs his/her mind in the worship of the living and true God. As such, theology, when properly done, is done in a spirit and attitude of worship through faith for without faith it is impossible to please God. It is therefore imperative for the theologian to speak of God and His word out of a heart of gratitude through Spirit enabling faith.
We are living in some strange days, are we not? The news saying one thing our friends saying another. One’s individual conscience may be saying one thing, the social conscience might be saying something very different. What are we to do? What voice ought we to obey especially when there are so many voices?
In the mid-1980’s, famous Christian philosopher, Alvin Plantinga, wrote an article entitled, Advice to Christian Philosophers that I believe applies to us all today. In this article he noted that philosophy students in general seek to be like their mentors, like those they look up to. They care about the things their colleagues care about and write about those same things. So much of these student’s lives revolves around the next big philosophically interesting problem. But is this the case for the Christian?
For Christians, are we simply concerned with how to be fathers or mothers? No. We are concerned with how to be Christian fathers and mothers, and the same goes for being students and teachers and employers and employees and friends and the list goes on and on. How then are we to be Christian fill-in-the-blank wherever we are in our lives at this time?
I believe Plantinga offers a course of action in three parts which speaks to us all: “First, [we] must display more autonomy-more independence of the rest of the philosophical world. Second, [we] must display more integrity - integrity in the sense of integral wholeness, or oneness, or unity, being all of one piece…And necessary to these two is a third: Christian courage, or boldness, or strength, or perhaps Christian self-confidence.”  So let’s unpack this a bit.
How are we to be Christian in our world? First, it is time we displayed a bit more autonomy. As Christians this world is not our home. We are first and primarily citizens of a heavenly kingdom, where the King of the cosmos rules. This is to say then that we view the world differently, think about the world differently, and behave differently and we do this by looking into the perfect law of liberty, the Scriptures. Treat the Scripture as a set of glasses and begin to look at the world through those glasses.
Second, Christians must live the perfect life, the complete life. Christianity is not just church on Sunday though it includes church on Sunday. Christianity is not just giving a few bucks to the beggar, though it includes such charity. Christianity is a new life, old things have passed away, behold all things have become new. How do you think? Is every thought brought into captivity to Christ? How do you act? When you eat or drink do you do so to the glory of God? Do you love God and your neighbor? Who is your neighbor? How we answer these questions and others like them speaks to whether or not you and I lead an integrated Christian lives.
Third, and finally, we are called to a Christian boldness. The psalmist reminds us in Psalm 27:1, “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life’ of whom shall I be afraid?” I was told by an Airborne chaplain that when the team jumps the chaplain jumps first. I mean, if the guy who says he has God on his side won’t jump, why should I? In similar manner, if the Christian cannot be bold, then why should the godless? If the Christian cannot have peace and safety in the face of fear then why expect that of those who lean on themselves alone for peace and safety?
These are strange and in many ways difficult times. Now is not the time light your candle and put it under a bushel. Rather, it is time to put it on a candlestick so that it gives light unto all that are in the house. Let the light of Christian autonomy, integrity, and boldness shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in Heaven.
Socrates and the Marring of the Soul
“For I certainly think that I and you and every man do really believe, that to do is a greater evil than to suffer injustice: and not to be punished than to be punished.” - Plato, Gorgia
Which do you think is the greatest evil: doing wrong or being wronged? Perhaps on its face it seems that to suffer great evil is worse than doing great evil. Plato via Socrates asks that we ponder this question in our quest to uncover the nature of a happy or fulfilled life.
In our conversation there are three evils presented: doing wrong, being wronged, and doing wrong without repercussions. If you were to grade these from “best” to worst what would be the worst.
Socrates would have us come to this truth, that it is the latter that is worst. Why? You see, for Socrates, the one who does evil and is not punished reveals something of his soul, of his inner man - the seat of his reason.
The man who wills evil does so because he regards it as just. But if the action is truly evil then it is not just. Hence, the man’s soul, his reason, is deformed, believing something to be that is not. So now we ask, given the existence of the soul, which is person is worse off, the one whose body is marred or the one whose soul is marred?
It would see that it is the latter, so then while it may be our first inclination to conclude that suffering a wrong is worse than doing a wrong, it appears that it may be the opposite.
How is a soul to be mended? Certainly the body often suffers on the path to health whether that be surgery, or the setting of a bone, or difficult hours spent in the gym. Is there something of like manner for the soul?
Socrates proposes that rebuke and/or punishment are the remedy of an evil or marred soul. He says, “I mean, that if he be justly punished his soul is improved” and “he who is punished is delivered from the evil of his soul.”
So then for Socrates the doing of evil is worse than having evil done to you, but what is even worse than all of that is the one who does evil but is never punished - the one who escapes justice. Justice serves as health to our soul even though it can be accompanied by pain. Still, in the end, the soul is made more perfect through correction and punishment.
Though I know the language is not univocal, there seems to be somethings in common with how Christianity understands the nature of the soul and punishment.
Indeed, when we sin we mar our souls and the only remedy of the marred soul is punishment. That punishment can be meted out either in one’s suffering in Hell or in the suffer of Christ. The mar that we have taken against our soul in sin is so profound in nature that eternal punishment will not suffice to correct our soul (unless of course if you believe in purgatory) though it does serve as justice.
But in Christ, the eternal Son of God, we can find a balm to our soul in that Jesus took our place under the wrath of God. He bore our sin, punishment, and guilt. In His substitutionary punishment, He took on Him our punishment to the ultimate perfection of our soul.
“We all want progress, but if you're on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive.” - C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
Turn to Christ as the remedy of your marred soul.
As part of my children’s eduction I believe that they ought to cultivate their imagination which is often short-circuited by the overly visual nature of current western culture. We no longer need to imagine anymore because TV and the cinema does all our imagining for us and we compulsively consume rather lazily.
So in response, my wife and I have taken up reading stories to our children in leu of screen time. Recently, I decided to introduce to my children one of the great evils of fictional writing - Count Dracula.
The count is profoundly evil, more demon than man. So terribly alive and yet manifestly dead. Seemingly a gentleman and courteous, and yet is consumed so completely by his own desires without compromise. Hating all that is good and right, he is a cunning destroyer of the young and old, man and woman.
Early in the story we learn of Jonathan Harker, one of our heroes, who has been summoned by the Count to assist him in securing residence in London. Harker, not knowing what awaits him, sees such an invitation as business-as-usual but quickly learns that it is not so.
Harker comes to know that he is a prisoner of the Count, and the Count, knowing Harker had resigned himself as such, explains that Harker may only sleep in his bedroom, the dining room, and the library. Should he sleep anywhere else, the Count will not be responsible should another kind of danger befall our hero.
It so happens, as it does in stories such as these, that Harker does indeed begin to fall asleep on a couch in a room he ought not. As he was between waking and sleeping the moonlight gave shape to three women, two with black hair and one with fair hair. Harker records in his journal the whole ordeal in the following words:
The fair girl advanced and bent over me till I could feel the movement of her breath upon me. Sweet it was in one sense, honey-sweet, and sent the same tingling through the nerves as her voice, but with a bitter underlying the sweet, a bitter of offensiveness, as one smells in blood…There was a deliberate voluptuousness which was both thrilling and repulsive, and as she arched her neck she actually licked her lips like an animal.
Just before Harker falls victim to the vampire’s bite, Dracula, appearing out of nowhere, seems almost instantly to throw the fair woman back only to say, “How dare you touch him, any of you? How dare you cast eyes on him when I had forbidden it?”
To this the three greatly protest and mock the Count for his apparent faux concern for Harker, but Dracula assures them, “Well, now I promise you that when I am done with him you shall kiss him at your will.”
Harker had surely found himself in a most horrific predicament and yet as the story progresses he is able to escape and the fiendish foes are overcome and destroyed.
When I was a younger man, my Dad would regularly remind my brothers and I to be careful of the woman from Proverbs 5. Dad referred to her as the “wicked woman”. I submit to you that here we see in Harker’s account a manifestation of what the Scriptures portray in Proverbs 5 when speaking of a woman of similar evil.
God’s word says of this woman,
3 For the lips of a strange woman drop as an honeycomb, and her mouth is smoother than oil: 4 But her end is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword. 5 Her feet go down to death; her steps take hold on hell…8 Remove thy way far from her, and come not nigh the door of her house: 9 Lest thou give thine honour unto others, and thy years unto the cruel: 10 Lest strangers be filled with thy wealth; and thy labors be in the house of a stranger; 11 And thou morn at last, when thy flesh and thy body are consumed.
While vampires are something for books and movies the Scriptures tell us of a very real type of woman who is both sweet and bitter and to pursue or be entrapped by such a woman means the loss of one’s health, wealth, and honor.
Young men who would live godly lives, stand and take note that such a woman exists and that she is a real danger to you both spiritually and physically. Mothers and fathers who wish to raise godly sons, be sure to teach line upon line the truth spoken here in Proverbs chapter five.
It is beyond contestation that the strongest man who has ever lived (Judges 16) and the wisest man who has ever lived (I Kings 11:4) were both undone by a woman or women like the one described in Proverbs 5. While it is true that sometimes truth is stranger than fiction, it also true that fiction at times largely borrows from the truth in the telling of a story.
Be sober; be vigilant. Stoker’s depiction of the three wicked sisters is not too far off the mark.
I have often hesitated to write the following because I believe the answer to our own gaps in knowledge go beyond taking a fish (i.e. just giving the answer) to learning how to fish (i.e. formulating your own reasonable answer). As I have been meeting with churches and schools over past couple years there has been a request for the fish and how to fish. So, for the fish I offer the conversation below.
It is a pretty standard conversation that I have with students. Of course, no two conversations are alike but perhaps it will give some hooks on which to hang your own thoughts. The fishing part comes after the conversation where I hope to explain the principles behind my method.
Moral Relativity is the belief that right and wrong are only defined by the person defining them. In other words, doing that which is right in one’s own eyes. A Bible believing Christian on the other hand believes that there is an absolute standard for right and wrong regardless of whether or not we think it is right or wrong. That standard is God, the Prime Lawgiver, and by extension the Holy Scriptures.
For our purposes the parties involved are the Evangelist (the Christian) and MR (the Moral Relativist. Although this discussion does not lead immediately to the cross of Christ still all such endeavors have as their point to lead a non-Christian to saving knowledge in Jesus. As a result, anyone who engages in like conversation is an evangelist, properly so called.
Evangelist: Is there any thing that is morally absolute?
MR: Because what I say is right, is right and no one has the power to impose on me otherwise.
Evangelist: So is murder wrong?
MR: Weeelll... Not in time of war, or self defense so I think that killing is ok sometimes.
Evangelist: Ok, is rape wrong?
Evangelist: Why is it wrong?
MR: Because it harms another human being.
Evangelist: Why is harm wrong? Physicians need to cut in order to repair. Athletes need to run and lift to the point of pain in order to get faster and stronger.
MR: Ummm...because I don't want harm done to me so I don't want it done to others.
Evangelist: But that sounds like imposing your idea of wrong on others. How about the rapist? Presumably he is not being harmed by raping. What gives you the right to say the rapist is bad?
MR: Perhaps I don't have the right to tell the rapist but I do have the right to govern myself morally.
Evangelist: Do your morals change? I mean, we are fundamentally creatures of change.
Evangelist: Is it possible that you could change your mind on abortion by tomorrow?
MR: Yes, it is possible.
Evangelist: Is it possible that you might change your mind about rape tomorrow? Not that you will, but is it possible?
MR: Yes, it is possible.
Evangelist: By your own admittance and because only you are said to govern your morality, are you a safe person then? Tomorrow it might be that rape is ok, so should your girlfriend go out on a date with you this Friday? Is it possible that tomorrow pedaphilia is ok with you. Is it safe to leave my kids with you?
MR: Well in that case it would be ok for me to rape but not for society.
Evangelist: In the end what does society have to do with this? You began the discussion with what you say is right, is right, for you.
MR: Society gets a say if I let it.
Evangelist: Sure but let's be clear, only if you let it. So if you disregard society and you come to the conclusion that maybe rape is right, are you a safe person?
MR: No, I don't think so.
Evangelist: If you are the sole governor of your moral system and you change your mind about rape who can tell you rape is wrong?
MR: I guess, no one.
Evangelist: If there is nothing morally higher than yourself and it is possible that rape can become morally right then are you a safe person to be around?
MR: Maybe not.
Evangelist: If you are not a safe person to be around then would it be fair to say that you are dangerous?
MR: I suppose...
Evangelist: What makes a person or thing dangerous?
MR: The person or thing is disposed to cause harm.
Evangelist: Indeed, so then has your moral relativism become the catalyst for the very thing you say is fundamentally immoral - to cause harm?
MR: Maybe it does.
Evangelist: I agree.
There is of course the Christian side of the discussion where truth, absolutes, and God are front and center to the discussion. The purpose of this exercise what to test the internal coherence of Moral Relativism, and in the end this is but one way of proving it is not.
Primary to my method is to ask questions. Get use to asking questions, lots of them and for two reasons: 1. To understand your conversant's position and 2. To build relationship through the question because in the end you must have care for their soul, so really and truly desire to understand where they are coming from.
Next, I like to begin with a question rather than a declarative sentence. It can give the sense of putting the other person in control. Then meet the person were they are at. If they say, "What's right for me is what's right, for me." then meet them there.
Sooner or later you will need to introduce the Christian worldview, but if you are able to put a crack in the dam that is their worldview prior to offering your position, it helps. Although it is tempting to chase the disjunction between the person's idea of murder vs rape it is important to stay on the core issue which is moral relativism. In the above example I did not include a foray into the Christian worldview properly so called because I believe moral relativism is intellectually canniblistic - it eats itself and it's undergirding principles.
Still from here I would begin to talk of God as the Prime Lawgiver and sin’s relationship to divine justice. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask. If it's been a help at all, praise the Lord. If not, I will endeavor to do better next time.