In recent years we've heard a lot of talk about
traditional values. It seems to surface in every political campaign and has
been the subject of debate and controversy by the news media.
Traditional, historical American values have in the
past, included a faith in God, church, prayer and the Bible, which has for a
large part, been the foundation of other national traditions, such as:
Respect toward authority, diligent work ethics, absolute values of right and
wrong, honesty in business practices, wholesomeness in leadership,
moderation rather than excess, marriage as a prerequisite before having sex
or bearing children, a family which consists of both a father and mother,
taking responsibility to provide for our own — such one's spouse, family and
children, and so forth.
Traditional values are largely the Bible-based ethics
that were a great part of our national heritage which instilled character
and taught people how to grow up as human beings. People learned how to
behave, to have manners, good morals, to be honest, unselfish, generous and
considerate of others. They were taught the benefits of discipline, hard
work, and responsibility. They were given good role models of how to be
loving and kind to their spouse, encouraging and supportive to their
children. This was the sort of thing which caused marriages to last,
families to succeed, and which made our nation strong and free.
Many of today's political leaders are looking to a
restoration of such traditional values, not especially because of such a
want for faith in God. But they see that the values which were generally
held by believers in the past are the cure for the sickness that plagues our
nation. And on the more cynical, capitalistic side of things, politicians
have come to see it as a remedy for the numerous costly government social
programs. Our government has nearly gone bankrupt trying to fix the ills of
society which have been produced by the absence of traditional values: Drug
abuse, deadbeat dads, unwed mothers, abortion, abandoned children, abandoned
elderly, the spread of AIDS and other venereal diseases, litigation abuse,
welfare abuse, failure of education, lack of discipline in the schools,
rampant crime, and etc.
All of these woes, and much more, are products of a
society without values — and specifically, without the values which
originally came from a lifestyle of faith in God. Realizing this, more and
more politicians are beginning to sound like preachers in their appeal for a
return to moral values.
It has been said that America is following the same
historical path that led to the collapse of the Roman empire. In the famous
history, "The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire,"¹ the author gave the
following reasons for Rome's fall:
(1) Excessive spending by the central government.
Sadly, these same symptoms are the ills of our own
society, and most Christian leaders believe that unless there is a revival
of moral values in our nation, like Rome, it will corrupt from within and
will die as a nation. It is said, "They which fail to learn from history,
are destined to repeat it." We're reminded of a warning in scripture: "The
wicked shall be turned into hell, And all the nations that forget God" (Psa.
¹ The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Edward Gibbon