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Sunday, August 12, 2007

The New Morality vs. the Old Morality

The New Morality vs. the Old Morality

During the period when the nation was caught up in the Monica Lewinski-Bill Clinton peccadillo, I happened upon a rather fiery televised debate between one of the President’s top advisors and a conservative critic.  The President’s defender made a statement I’ll never forget.  He said, “Bill Clinton is the most moral President in the history of the United States!”  Of course, it is common for Washington politicians to use hyperbole, but at first blush, this seemed to be the most outrageous claim I had ever heard.  You can love or hate Bill Clinton, but it seemed more than improbable to claim that he was the most moral man to ever serve as President.

However, after thinking about this claim for some time, I decided it was true, providing you cling to a set of moral values that have absolutely nothing to do with the Ten Commandments.  The Ten Commandments tell us not to lie, steal, kill, commit adultery or covet, among other things.  But, to many in our society today, this is the old morality of traditional Christians and Jews that no longer applies.  In fact, they make the case that it’s ok to lie, deceive, steal, and cheat on your wife as long as you have the right objectives.

The new morality is about how you think and what your goals are.  It’s not about how you act.  If your goals are noble then you are moral, regardless of your personal actions.  The President’s defender was clearly a man who believed in the new morality.  Whether Bill Clinton was faithful to his wife was simply not relevant.  Whether he lied was not relevant.  The only thing that counts in the new morality is what your goals are.  

The catch is that a free society exists only so long as individuals choose to live responsibly.  It exists only when you and I exercise self-restraint in our daily lives.  If everyone decides that the laws don’t apply to them, no number of law enforcement officials can contain the chaos that ensues.  The less self-restraint we use, and the more we ignore the commandments God gave us, the less freedom we will have.  Without faith which compels us to do what is right to honor God out of love for Him, our free society will collapse.  As the old saying goes, men either fear the law or they fear God.  If they fear neither, there is chaos.

If there is no fear or love of God then only civil authority can maintain order and safety.  The less respect for God, for our civil laws, and for the rights of others, the greater the arm of the law becomes until freedom all but disappears.

Unwittingly, as our society chooses to tolerate or even celebrate immorality (as defined by the Ten Commandments), we begin to dismantle our freedoms.  We can’t have it both ways.  It’s simply not possible to ignore one commandment and expect the others to withstand the onslaught against them.  As the Bible says, when we break one commandment, we break them all.  When we reject honesty, faithfulness, love, truthfulness, and all of the other Judeo Christian virtues, we begin to bring down the foundation of our free society.

Ironically, even if you don’t believe in God, in your own self interest, it’s worth clinging to the old morality just so you can continue to enjoy the freedoms for which our forefathers paid such a high price.

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