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Values without Value


Pardon the provocative title. Today I’m just scribbling out a few thoughts on a word that has become increasingly annoying to me: values.

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Values has been a very fashionable word to describe what people believe for several years now. It has probably been most commonly used in conjunction with the word “family,” as in “family values.” A politician’s stated commitment to family values is almost sure to buy him votes, even if he himself is a divorced adulterer. Many churches have replaced statements of faith with lists of “core values.” I’m not sure what motivates that thinking—probably just a desire for softer, less confrontational and demanding language—but I’m not impressed.

I’m not interested in your values. Values are the things that are important—valuable—to you. Values are subjective. Values are not moral imperatives. Your values may be different from my values. My values include things like wool sweaters, real butter, and Smyth-sewn bindings. These are good things, and I’m willing to explain to anyone who will listen why they are superior to their alternatives. However, as good as my arguments might be, they would carry no moral authority, not because they wouldn’t be right, but because I would be explaining why those things are important to me, and why I think they should be important to you.

I’m not interested in values; I’m interested in doctrines, and the morals that are the product of doctrines.

Morals are in an entirely different category than values. Morals are derived from authoritative commands. They are objective, and binding whether I value them or not. I might value life, and you might not; but God commands both of us to not commit murder. You might value sexual purity, and I might not; but God commands both of us to refrain from adultery. To live according to values makes me my own authority. Submitting to God’s moral commands acknowledges God as the supreme authority.

More important than morals are the doctrines behind them. To have values rather than morals is weak enough; to speak of values as a substitute for doctrines is to entirely emasculate your faith. Genuine faith and true religion is based not upon values, but upon doctrine—and not just any doctrine, but biblical doctrine.

Please—if you value God, if you value objective truth—do away with “values.”

July 18, 2008



Posted 2020·03·23 by David Kjos
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Posted in: Reruns

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