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  The Importance of Values and Morals
"The Importance of Values and Morals." Sounds like a no-brainer of an article for us, a people of faith. They are the code we live by in a civil and just society. They are what we use to guide our interactions with others, with our friends and family, in our businesses and professional behavior. Our values and morals are a reflection of our spirituality; our character. They are what we hope to model for our children and the children around us, because children do watch us as they develop their own sense of right and wrong. Everyone knows their importance, don't they?

Well, maybe not. One only has to watch Jerry Springer-type shows or the spate of "Reality TV Shows" to find evidence to the contrary. Every day in the news we hear about crooked politicians, greedy CEOs, insider trading, embezzling evangelists caught in "love triangles," "good Christians" doing very bad things. On talk-radio, news shows, at our churches, all around us, we hear about the decline of values, morals, ethics, civility, manners and, of course, common decency. People talk nostalgically about the "good old days" when Americans lived according to a set of standards of which they could be proud.

So have we really become a nation without values and morals? I don't think so. It's just that everyone has their own ideas about which values and morals are the ones we should follow. The choices are as varied as our country is heterogeneous. One only has to look inside the different church denominations to see the diversity of concepts regarding moral behavior. That realization doesn't stop each of us from believing that our particular values and morals comprise the "right" set-- the set everyone else should accept as well.

Another problem is that we, as human beings, are inconsistent in most things--including our morals and values. We tend to compartmentalize them; stressing one type while disregarding another. Some people seem willing to overlook unethical business practices while condemning sexual behaviors and attitudes. Others overlook sexual behavior and attitudes while crying foul over shady business practices. Turning a blind eye upon specific immoral activity seems to happen frequently in politics, sports and in the church. At times, it would appear that morals and values are morals and values of convenience.

But, as people of faith, aren't we supposed to have a clear sense of morals and values? Aren't we supposed to be above all that hypocrisy and compartmentalizing? After all, the Bible offers many examples of morals and values; behavior we should aspire to. But they, like us, often appear contradictory and inconsistent. Unfortunately, as flawed human beings, we often fall short in our pursuit of faith and "good, Christian conduct." The same can be said of our pursuit of consistency in our morals and values. It is a difficult task made more difficult by the world around us.

In the end, however, the importance of determining our values and morals is still imperative. They are reflective of our own sense of right and wrong, our character and, more importantly, our spirituality. While the world around us may spin out of control, children will continue to look to us for guidance in developing their own sense of what is important in life. And while we will never attain perfection and may never achieve consistency, a clear sense of moral and ethical standards is worth the effort.

After all, the children are watching.

Earle Donelson, Ph.D.
Staff Psychologist
Samaritan Counseling Centers

Find out more about pastoral counseling.


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