Did you happen to catch the following news items? I am sure that I am not the only person to think that they just possibly might be connected.
Three headlines popped up my computer screen the other day. The first read, “California Bill Would OK families with more than 2 parents.” That appeared right above, “Another California City votes to Declare Bankruptcy.” Within a few hours, I read that Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel, voicing his outrage at the shooting of a child said, “…if you do not think this is about a set of values…Near a child? How dare you?”
I thought values were those old-fashioned things that conservatives try to cram down liberals’ throats. I thought they were to be mocked and discarded. Commonly accepted values used to include the idea that one mother and one father having children after marriage constitute an honorable family. Commonly accepted values were judgmental about those who, except in the most extreme circumstance, lived off someone else’s labor. Commonly accepted values viewed life as sacred and did not determine that if an infant only exited its mother’s body three-quarters of the way, he or she deserved no more protection than yesterday’s trash.
This can’t be the set of values referenced by Mayor Emanuel, could it? After decades of scorning what used to be universally accepted as American values perhaps we no longer have the right to expect a common language. Is it still reasonable to assume that having a gang fight when children are nearby is wrong? (Did the mayor imply that it is o.k. to kill innocent adult bystanders, or other gang members, in a gang fight?) Don’t we have to respect a gang member’s opinion that fulfilling his own desires is more important than caring about the age of someone in the vicinity? Isn’t it judgmental to condemn his view? After all, what is illegal today might not only be legal but also applauded tomorrow.
It is not immediately apparent what damage is done by redefining the family. The California bill is only the latest in a long list of changes made to what were once universally agreed upon family values. One needs a long-term view to see the effects of encouraging the idea that people are entitled to other people’s money, be it through unrealistic pension promises, by pandering to constituents, or by promoting envy. It isn’t necessarily obvious what road one is heading down by treating human life at its beginning and end as a matter for human legislators and public opinion. Up close, these may even look like unrelated issues. They are not.
Values are funny things. It’s hard to get anyone to respect them if they are constantly changing. America may not have always lived up to her founding principles and those of us who claim allegiance to God may betray His ideals in heartbreaking ways. Nevertheless, having standards that one fails to meet allows individuals and society to make corrections. Once values are disconnected from a Source and subject to constant change, they no longer exist. Citing them, even if you are the mayor of Chicago, has no value.