In 1992, Vice President Dan Quayle delivered a family-values speech in which he was critical of the TV show Murphy Brown. The show portrayed the lead character making the intentional decision to have a child outside of marriage. His comments set off a firestorm in the media surrounding the definition of family values. Now, in 2016, it is doubtful that any politician would ever utter such a statement. Yes, times have changed.
Society has greatly broadened its definition of what should constitute as family values. The “traditional family” is quickly becoming the “untraditional family.” Cultural changes have created confusion and uncertainty in what used to be commonly accepted values. The virtues of God, family and country have in many cases been replaced with, “me, myself and I.” However, such a self-centered approach to family, brings with it, some unintended consequences.
The number of single parents have dramatically increased. According to the Pew Research Center, fewer than half (46%) of U.S. kids younger than 18 years of age are living in a home with two married heterosexual parents in their first marriage. This is a marked change from 1960, when 73% of children fit this description, and 1980, when 61% did. Many are delaying marriage, and even more are foregoing the institution altogether. The number of children born outside of marriage now stands at 41%, up from 5% in 1960. At the same time, we are seeing divorce rates rising as is remarriage.
What does all this mean? The reality is that families are not suffering from a lack of values, but rather from the absence of the right values. You see, every family has values. Simply put, values are what we believe are important. What we determine to be important, we put into action. Here is the problem, wrong values bring undesired results. As Stephen Covey said, “We are free to choose our actions, but we are not free to choose the consequences of these actions.”
Lying may be beneficial in the short term, but eventually, people will no longer trust you. Selfishness may satisfy for a while, but selfish people end up with only themselves. Children that not taught responsibility become adults who are irresponsible. Our values determine our future. The values we prioritize will either lead to either a blessing or a curse. This was the scenario that unfolded when Israel entered the Promised Land.
As the next generation of Israelites were poised to enter Canaan, God warned of the cultural clash of values that would confront them. Israel would be entering into a world that offered the opportunity for both prosperity and devastation. The land they would live in would be occupied by people who did not worship their God nor shared their values. Israel would have to choose if they would follow God, or be assimilated into pagan culture.
“Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse; A blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you this day: And a curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside out of the way which I command you this day, to go after other gods, which ye have not known.” (Deuteronomy 11:26-28)
Following a wrong map will never get you to the desired destination. No matter how sincere or what your intentions may be, the wrong family values will not take you to the place of blessings. Like Israel we have a choice. Murphy Brown values have taken the family to a perilous place. It’s time that families reexamine their values and choose to follow the Lord. Where are your values leading your family?