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What do churches mean by references
to "traditional values?"

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.

While there may be differing interpretations, especially from secular society, traditional values generally refer to the standards and values which were embraced by most Americans from its earliest beginnings and throughout the majority of its history. It is believed by many, including myself, that these values were a great part of what made America a great and free nation — the absence of which, will likely result in the further decline of our country.

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.
(2) Unwillingness of young men to bear arms in defense of their country.
(3) Overindulgence in luxuries.
(4) Widespread immorality which destroyed the integrity of family life (family values).
(5) The spread of gender confusion and homosexuality — men acting like women, and women acting like men.
(6) Disregard for religion.

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. 9:17).

¹ The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Edward Gibbon

This article is from the book, What People Ask About the Church, authored and copyrighted © by Dr. Dale A. Robbins, 1990-2015, and is a publication of Victorious Publications, Grass Valley, CA - Nashville, TN. Unless otherwise stated, all scripture references were taken from The New King James Bible, © Thomas Nelson Inc., 1982. You may download this article for personal use as long as you retain credit to the author. Obtain permission before reproducing copies for any reason, by filling out our simple use permission form. Many of our writings are also available as free pdf tri-fold pamphlets, which can be downloaded for reproduction from our Online Catalog. For media reproduction rights, or to obtain quantities of this title in other formats, email us. A newer revised version of this book is available from Amazon. If you have appreciated these online materials, help us reach the world with the Gospel by considering a monthly or one-time tax-deductable donation.