Those Aren’t Our Values

Ethicsby Deana Chadwell3/26/16
I can actually feel brain cells explode every time I hear that line. That one and, “That’s not who we are.” The nonsense of those sentences needs exploration before someone carves them in stone.

Let’s look at the word values. The word comes to us from Old French, no doubt riding across the English Channel with William the Conqueror in 1066. (That alone should give us pause.) At that time it meant to be worth- William was so interested in the worth of all the lands he’d conquered that he took an inventory called The Domesday Book.

Value appears not to have been used then in the philosophical way it is today. Today, especially when presented in the vague plural, it refers to whatever current, politically correct ideas waft about the interbunk, or to which propaganda is trending.

Values are not the same thing as morals. A person who espouses values will place a woman’s career options above the life of an unborn child, thereby choosing success over the moral prohibition against committing murder, against the idea that every person is a valuable creation of God. Values allow us to indulge our desires, to seek self-actualization (as if we aren’t actually here unless we do) rather than to have concern for how our actions affect the welfare of those with whom we interact. Values are a human construct. Morals come from God – “Thou shalt not have other gods before me,” (Exodus 20:3).[pullquote]Values allow us to indulge our desires, to seek self-actualization (as if we aren’t actually here unless we do) rather than to have concern for how our actions affect the welfare of those with whom we interact.[/pullquote]

People who think in terms of values readily adopt new ones when they become popular. A value is infinitely flexible. A moral person, on the other hand, sees the rules by which he lives as something permanent and immutable, as something God instituted for the blessing of us all.

A person whose decisions are based on values rarely knows what those values are outside of non-specific catch phrases: multiculturalism, peace, hope and change, self-expression, progressivism, socialism, LGBT. Whatever is currently politically correct is a value.

Values have no logic behind them, are based instead on feelings. Morals have reasons – for instance, society is based on the family, therefore any behavior that threatens the family is verboten. Values lean on one’s personal desires, morals on the concern for the preservation of an entire society.  If a culture begins to lean more on values than morals the entire society is at risk – a values culture does not recognize the dangers of this world. Look at Sweden. On the Ignlehart and Welzel*1 world values map Sweden ranks at the top for “self-expression” and “secular-rational values,” obviously at the pinnacle of societal evolution – multicultural to the extreme, thoroughly socialistic, heavily secular, yet it is now the financially fragile, Muslim-infused rape capital of the world. Yay values!

Inglehart and Welzel don’t rank self-preservation as a value on their chart. They value (double entendre intended) self-expression as the superior concept. I doubt that Swedish women would agree. What good is self-expression if you have to hide at home?

Japan also ranks high on this chart, not as self-expressive as Sweden, but high on the secular-rational axis. Japan is more aware of the dangers of Islamic intensity than Sweden, and has wisely kept a lid on Muslim immigration, but Japan is also failing to thrive; they are not replacing their population – even sex is no longer a sought-after activity2 and suicide rates are alarming3. Neither Sweden nor Japan is flourishing, despite their values, which causes me to conclude that values are an inadequate basis for a civilization.

It is interesting that Inglehart and Welzel don’t deal with morality and its place in the world. They use the term traditional values instead, largely, I suspect, to avoid giving any respect to this age-old idea or to the possibility that God is at all involved. Morals are not, in their view and in the view of much of academia, divinely inspired, but are, like the so-called rational or scientific values merely primitive manifestations of the same make-it-up-as-you-go miasma.

Interestingly enough they see Islamic traditional values as an equivalent to the Christian worldview, never mind the fact that murder is admired in the former and abhorred in the latter, or that women are enslaved in the one and idolized in the other. After all, there is no talk of what is good and what is evil; neither, in the modern view, is relevant or useful.

In this modern world, based as it is on evolutionary thinking and the idea that we’re always getting better, smarter, more sophisticated, values are seen as superior in every way, never mind history and the mountains of evidence to the contrary.

The women’s rights value has robbed our country alone of fifty million unique individuals. The socialism value has destroyed prosperity. The world peace value has rendered all of Western civilization unable to defend itself against radical Islam – prudently closing our borders, retaining enemy combatants, extracting information from detainees — all these common sense policies are no longer “who we are.” God help us.

We live in a world created by God and provided by God with instructions for survival. He has done this because He has a purpose for our existence, and He knows that evil is in the world. We are not improving our ability to make workable civilizations – one look at the 20th century proves that – never in all of human history have so many people died so violently, so horribly, and it has been Christian American morality that, over and over again, has come to the rescue.

In fact, America has been one of the last holdouts for living as God instructed us. That is who we are. I tremble at the idea that these divine guidelines for living, these rules for both survival and prosperity can be supplanted with synthetic, pathetic, mass-produced values.

1Inglehart, Richard and Chris Welzel. Cultural Map of the World. Wikipedia. 13 March 2016. Accessed 26 March 2016. Web.

2Haworth, Abigail. Why have young people in Japan stopped having sex? The Guardian. 20 October 2013. Accessed 26 March 2016. Web.

3Paddock, Katherine Phd. Suicide Rate In Japan Still Climbing Despite Government Measures. MNT. 21 June 2008. Accessed 26 March 2016. Web.

Deana Chadwell blogs at and is a writing and speech professor at Pacific Bible College in Southern Oregon.
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Deana Chadwell

About Deana Chadwell

I have spent my life teaching young people how to read and write and appreciate the wonder of words. I have worked with high school students and currently teach writing at Pacific Bible College in southern Oregon. I have spent more than forty years studying the Bible, theology, and apologetics and that finds its way into my writing whether I'm blogging about my experiences or my opinions. I have two and a half moldering novels, stacks of essays, hundreds of poems, some which have won state and national prizes. All that writing -- and more keeps popping up -- needs a home with a big plate glass window; it needs air; it needs a conversation. I am also an artist who works with cloth, yarn, beads, gourds, polymer clay, paint, and photography. And I make soap.
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9 Responses to Those Aren’t Our Values

  1. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    I suspect the word values is used as it is neutral and non-specific. I value apples, you value oranges. It is the perfect word for the materialistic/economic/market view of life. Everything is simply a question of “value” and values differ from person to person. And as you mentioned, values can change.

    But the word morals is anything but neutral. In the word itself is the implication of good and bad, right and wrong. It is in its very core judgemental. This is very inconvenient for today’s leftists and libertarians.

  2. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Deana has written a splendid essay. Agree or disagree, she has defined her terms (values equal squishy subjectivity, morals equal objective right-or-wrong). She then ekes out the logical implications, as well as giving a rational background on both aspects.

    The Left and Progressives have hypnotized themselves into thinking “values” (subjectivity) are inherently better because, one, they are personal (thus no one can be accused of forcing his “values” on another, which is a prime “value” of the Left and libertarians), and, two, they believe they are superior because of the shadow boxing they have done with traditional morals.

    The acid of Darwinism, Freudianism, and Marxism has done wonders to forward Beelzebub’s agenda which is to use our “values” against us in true Alinsky fashion. We are to be held up to our “values” and shown to be lacking, which of course, we are. Having moral standards doesn’t mean that everyone meets them. But it doesn’t mean they are poor standards because we don’t. The most ignorant and dishonest ignoramus could surely understand that a moral or a “value” that everyone could meet would not have much value.

    So you get the list of supposed fatal transgressions of the West. Traditional morals have been so demonized (perhaps by the devil…the jury is out on that) that your halfwit Progressive has no problem switching to easy “values” which, of course, require little pain, are self-flattering (non-judgmentalism is all the rage, whatever “values” work for you…including, one would assume, the values of ISIS), and can be changed like a new pair of underwear.

    Clearly this neutering (with anesthesia, I suppose) of solid moral principles had caused your typical Progressive to range into the realm of mental insanity. You can’t look at Sweden (or France, or Belgium, or the UK) and not see the insanity of suicide.

    And those same “values” are here in America, of course. And we’re suffering from the same insanity that masquerades as “nice” but is, in the long view, suicidal.

    • “Having moral standards doesn’t mean that everyone meets them. But it doesn’t mean they are poor standards because we don’t. The most ignorant and dishonest ignoramus could surely understand that a moral or a “value” that everyone could meet would not have much value.” Wow, Brad — what great lines. Excellent points, succinctly said. Yes, yes.

  3. Timothy Lane says:

    You may recall that there was concern in liberal circles about appealing to “values voters” after the 2004 election (a concern that didn’t last long). You do bring up an interesting idea as to why their concern was “values” instead of “morals”. The former is so much more general, and can be diverted to other uses by the likes of Barry Screwtape Obama.

  4. Anniel says:

    It seems to me that there is a very sanctimonious holier-than-thou tone of voice that goes along with, “That’s not who we are,” and ” Those aren’t our values.” And an almost overwhelming look of preening in the eyes of those who speak that way. I understand why your head wants to explode. It’s interesting to me that both Hillary and Chelsea speak this way, but the worst is Obama and wife. But it does apply to anyone who uses hashtags in place of brains.

    Thanks Deanna for explaining this with such intelligence.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Well, Barry Screwtape Obama is as self-righteous as any other president we’ve had, right up there with Wilson and Carter (and Gore if he had been elected). So that may not have anything to do with the “that’s not who we are” business — which seems to be very popular inside the Beltway.

  5. David Norris says:

    Deanna, Once again you hit the mark. Your essay would be great in the classroom for young minds to consider what is meant by the word ‘values’. It would also be an opportunity to re-examine what are considered to be traditional American values, those values which helped build and sustain this nation.

    “Who we are?” We are Americans who love God, country, and family.

    “What are our values?” Individualism, equality, freedom, privacy, hard work, innovation/invention, competition, generosity and charitableness, etc..

    “What is in our D.N.A.?” To be well rounded responsible adults; skilled, educated, and able to reason. To help guide future generations by passing on these same values.

  6. Tom Riehl Tom Riehl says:

    Late to this thread, but it sure is a well thought out essay.

    Whenever I hear one of our secular preachers evangelically proclaiming that “That’s not who we are”, I simply respond, sometimes out loud much to the dismay of my dog, “What’s with the WE stuff?” I’m perfectly willing to profile people based on common characteristics, for example. It’s a useful shorthand tool for self preservation.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Anytime people talk this way, one might ask if this includes not profiling sports performers. Should we not consider height for basketball players? For that matter, should we ignore race for them, or for runners?

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