I Don’t Want “Traditional Christian Values”

I’ve been working on remodeling my patio for a month now.  Removing old stone, leveling, and laying new tile.  The project started with a stern scolding from my wife of “Why are you starting another project when you have three unfinished already”.  As I crawl on all fours, trying to find the right size piece for the corner I’m working on, she sticks her head out the door, “I have 30 minutes, do you want me to help?”.  She can tell by the tired look on my face along with the amount of dirt and dust covering every inch of exposed skin I want to be done.  But there’s still daylight so I push on.  “If you want to” is my tired reply.  Within minutes she’s there with me.

There are a lot of men who will joke and say “My wife calls the shots in our house”, but when it comes down to it that’s not really the case.   In our family though, it truly is decision by committee.  With the exception of construction projects which I frequently get my hand slapped for starting, decisions are worked through together.  I’m not afraid to say it, my wife is the bread winner in our house.  We both work full-time to provide a great life for our boys.  My boss, a female, graciously allows me to flex my schedule to meet my own personal workout times as well as go to soccer games, birthday parties, and pick the boys up from school.  This is how a healthy modern family operates.

This past weekend was the Values Voter Summit in Washington DC.  At the convention, Kirk Cameron told attendees that America needed to return to the “Original factory settings”.  But what does that mean?  He said we need to return to the traditional Christian values of our founding fathers.  Would these be the same people who kidnapped and sold other human beings as slaves while preaching that “All men are created equal”?  As I read the article recapping his speech he shared how he retraced the early lives of the pilgrims from England to America, along with the beliefs they carried and how they used those in guiding their creation of a new country.

But what do those factory settings look like?  Mr. Cameron’s point is to return to a government and country focused on God.  But then who decides which god, and which god’s set of rules?  What frightens me more about the traditional Christian values of our founding fathers is how that was implemented.  Those values include:

1.  An irrational fear of any religion different than Christianity.  Look at what those God fearing settlers did to the Native Americans.

2.  The subjugation of women.  Even the thought of my wife being an equal with me would be near blasphemy.

3.  Slavery.  Not every man is created equal.

So what do all of these people who are calling for a return to traditional values looking for?  What do they really feel is wrong with society?

I’m a Christian and hold Christian values.  They help guide my life; the way I raise my family and the way I interact with those around me.  So it’s not Christian values that I have issue with.  It’s the implementation of what many call the Traditional Christian Values that I’m concerned with.  Those individuals typically are looking for a global reincarnation of conservatism. They want homosexuals and atheists back in the closet.   They want Christian prayer in schools and everyone in church on Sunday.  They’re afraid of the Muslim sitting on the plane next to them.  They don’t want conversation, they want conversion.  Authority shouldn’t be questioned, questions shouldn’t be asked, and thinking outside the box doesn’t occur. 

All of that also brings back a time of deep segregation and racism.  Everyone had their place, including women who should be taking care of the home and their husband, not working or helping lay tile in the back yard.  But that also brings with it a very narrow world view.  Before a time when Muslims, Hindu’s, and Sikh’s had places to worship in the country.  A time when respect for your elders meant covering up or ignoring abuse.  A time when interracial families were unacceptable.

And once that return happens, what next?  The fundamentalists step up calling for a global return to “The beliefs of our founding fathers in the Puritan tradition of life”?  Do we reject technology and return to an agricultural based lifestyle?  See those founding fathers also didn’t have Cadillac’s, iPod’s, or Starbucks.  But even the Amish had issues this past year with conflicting sects attacking each other for their difference in beliefs.

What people don’t realize when they start bringing up the founding fathers is that the founding fathers were radicals.  They took their beliefs and lifestyle and left their countries to start a new life.  They didn’t want a government or anyone for that matter telling them what to do and how to worship.  As that thought grew into a country it was reflected in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

The world has come a long way since the “Traditional Values of our Founding Fathers”.  The world is a smaller place.  Values are there, and I think every American would love to see stronger families, less teen pregnancies, and higher test scores in our schools.  Don’t sell today’s world short for one that was starkly different.  You may not realize what you’re asking for.


One thought on “I Don’t Want “Traditional Christian Values”

  1. Nationalism is such a tricky tool! When I hear someone say that the US is the “single greatest nation on Earth” or that “our Constitution is the single greatest document ever written” my face glosses over. I know it’s someone who has probably never read the constitution, traveled abroad, or studied history. It’s the same as hearing a Muslim say that “Allah is the one true God,” or watching a Frenchmen cringe at the thought of someone enjoying yellow cheese. It’s the rhetoric of an ignorant mind; catchy phrases and reactionary simplistic arguments that appeal to the docile. The Founding Fathers are frequently lionized and deified. We admire them like we admire King David. We shower them with the same childish naivety and praise that we use to describe our narrowly interpreted concept of Jesus.

    Most of the Founding Fathers were aristocrats. A few, the most influential few, were progressive intellectuals. Many decisions they made were ad hoc compromises derived from philosophy. The few we often talk about; Jefferson, Franklin, Washington, etc., were not theocrats. The US Constitution was not derived from Christian values. The founding fathers grew up in a society where Christianity was practiced. Christian ideology and influence was a common feature in their time, just as it is today. As John Adams said we “are not a Christian nation.” We are a secular nation, which allows ALL religious and secular institutions, with the right tools, to thrive
    The argument to return to “traditional Christian values” is to say that we want to stifle imagination. The enthusiasm is for atavism. It’s nostalgia for an era of repression that was never a significant piece of the America that we as a society, and the world, admire today. The putative “good” America has fought since our founding against “traditional Christian values” because those “values” are not American values; they are not human values; that are not moral values; and most importantly, they are not God’s values.


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