Monday, October 09, 2006

Family Values For All of Us

E.J. Dionne wants to start a national dialogue on "family values" for all of us. As a liberal, he's concerned about the repugnant behavior of Republican Congressman, Mark Foley. He hopes to shake politicans out of their political posturing and start thinking as concerned parents.

We need to have a long talk about the meaning of "family values."

Like just about every parent I know, I was horrified by this episode because I couldn't believe that the politicians involved didn't themselves react first as parents, grandparents, aunts or uncles -- rather than as politicians -- when they learned about Foley's special interest in a page...

"Family values" is more than a political slogan to be pulled off the shelf at election time.

I have to say, Dionne's right in one respect, it was surprising to watch politicians fret over how this will hurt them in November more than how this will hurt our society. His reminder to think as a parent first is a good one. But what I would like to ask Mr. Dionne is why now? Why is it acceptable to engage in a discussion of "family values" today as opposed to...oh say, in 1972 when Roe -vs- Wade was decided? Or the mid '80's when then Attorney General Meese held his Commission on Pornography? Why now and not then?

The answer is obvious. Back then those were the issues of the "intolerant" moral majority seeking to push their archaic values on enlightened society. Amazingly, in the click of an instant message, the moral threshold of some previously "tolerant" liberals was suddenly violated and family values are in vogue.

Everyone has a threshold in which they will finally stand up and say, "This is wrong." It's nice to know that a few liberals have finally reached their moral limit on deviant behavior.

Most Christian conservatives reached their threshold long ago. To us, there are clear, immovable boundaries based on a Biblical standard. That isn't to say they are followed by all Christians every time, but the standard doesn't change because Christians fail to follow them. The Ten Commandments are still the same today, despite the fact that many Christians have committed murder or adultery. Sex outside of marriage is wrong no matter what the age difference. Marriage is between one man and one woman. Life begins at conception. There is only one God. Period.

So as a Christian conservative, it is easy to see why I find Mr. Foley's behavior repugnant. But to be perfectly honest, I'm not sure I understand why liberal secularists do.

It's curious to me, that liberals find lewd virtual messages between a homosexual politician and a student absolutely intolerable, but a teacher in a video message teaching minor students how to put on a condom using a wooden "prop" and in-class talks on sexual preferences are considered responsible school policy. Why is a physician performing an abortion on a pregnant teen girl and instantly murdering a baby compassionate? But a politician's graphic virtual overtures with a page through instant messaging corrupt?

In a morally relative universe I suppose this makes perfect sense. Standards are arbitrary, based on popular opinion and personal convenience. Liberal secularists want to live and play by the rules until the rules infringe upon some new desire. Instead of changing their behavior, they change the rules and redefine right and wrong.

Marriage is no longer a union between one man and one woman joined in a holy convenant, but any two (or more) consenting adults who commit to a partnership joined by a state contract. A baby is not human until they are "viable" before then they are a fetus easily discarded. By doing so, liberal secularists attempt to legitimize their behavior and rid themselves of the accompanying guilt. They also demand that others accept their behavior as normal and those who don't are "intolerant." Consequently, our nation's moral foundation suffers another crack and we move another step toward complete moral collapse.

Foley's behavior hopefully exposes the lie that we can just live by our own desires and make up the rules as we go along. Some liberal secularists have reached the end of their moral rope and cry, "Let's have a little restraint please!" Concerned liberal parents like E. J. Dionne, now see the wisdom of having boundaries and want to discuss "family values" with moral conservatives. His approach is predictably very liberal.

And let economic liberals and moral conservatives come together to discuss how our society has made it more difficult for parents to do the job right. The family values issues that we can do the most about through government and private-sector policies include how we organize work, how we provide for parental leave, how we schedule the school day, how we guarantee medical benefits -- in short, how we can make it easier for mothers and fathers alike to juggle their responsibilities.
Parenting is a difficult job, I agree. And the points Dionne raises about work and school schedules are all topics worthy of attention. But is that the best starting point for a dialogue on family values? Shouldn't we begin by defining our principles before we decide public policy? Let's begin by examining the phrase "family values." What is a family? And what do we value?

Mr. Dionne, I don't question your sincerity in helping parents or your apparent interest in "family values." I question your definitions and those of the members of Congress. I'm concerned about politicians and pundits who think that "family leave" is a "family value" worth supporting, but marriage between one man and one woman and parental notification in minor abortions are not.

So until society can agree on the definition of "family values," a public policy that encourages them will never be for all of us.

The American Thinker posted a thoughtful article today on the same topic, The Foley Flap and the Honor Wars. It's worth a read.

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