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The Trouble With 'Values'

By John Mallon
©Catholic Online 2005

There is a big problem with "values." The word, that is. It doesn't mean anything. That is, like that other tainted word "choice," it doesn't mean anything unless it is qualified. The correct word that should be used is "morals" or morality. The difference is that morality is objective and "values" are subjective. We are reaping the weeds of 1970s educational fads which abandoned right and wrong in favor of "values clarification."

Plently of people will squawk if you say the United States is "a Christian country." But there is no doubt that the nation was founded on Judeo-Christian morality, which has been prevelant in--in fact the foundation of-- Western Civilization.

A "value" is not an unmitigated good, it depends on what is being valued. In the same way, "choice" sounds good, but it depends on what the options are. If the choice refers to killing a child in the womb it is a very bad thing. But that is the point of surpressing morality with claptrap about "values."

Rightly ordered, values are based on morality, but the attempt here is to toss out objective morality and claim values based on ... what?

Hitler had "values." They were bad values. What he lacked was morality. Morals are something agreed upon by a culture, and as C.S. Lewis pointed out in his book The Abolition of Man, all civilizations and great world religions have held essentially very similar codes of morality which Christians recognize as the "law written on the human heart."

Hitler's rejection of this morality in favor of his diabolical values of putting the Fatherland "über alles" was a real attempt at the abolition of man--as is talk of "choice" today. Why should the slaughter of six million Jews and countless others qualify as genocide but not the slaughter of 45 million unborn children?


Since the 2004 presidential election lots of democrats are doing an awful lot of talking about "values." Whenever you hear a public figure speak of "values" demand that they define them. "A woman's right to choose" may be a value but it is also evil. Just because we seem to ourselves to be civilized and Politically Correct, does not mean we are incapable of evil. In fact "Political Correctness" was invented to give cover to evil masquerading as good. "Political Correctness" is intolerance masquerading as tolerance. It smoothly replaces the Good with the "Nice."

As long as we claim to be "inclusive" promoting "diversity" and "multicultural" we can do whatever we please in our personal lives and anyone (or any moral system) disapproving of any behavior is "judgmental" and therefore not "inclusive." it deliberately seeks to confuse cultural or ethnic identity with behavior, especially behavior historically considered nearly always and everywhere immoral. We see this at work not only in the promotion of abortion but with homosexuality. It confuses what one does with what one is.

When idological radical social reformers attack Judeao-Christian morality, an alleged lack of "inclusivity" is one of the clubs they weild against their opponents, as though people who are actually religious believers hate those different from them. Obviously, this is a nonsense. The fact is, Christians are commanded to love their neighbors, and as Jesus illustrated in the parable of the Good Samaratin, this includes those of other cultures and beliefs and ethnicities.

Catholics especially should not be intimidated by this ersatz morality because the injunction "love your neighbor" covers this. The Catholic Church is the most culturally diverse, multicultural and inclusive body in history, treating all people as children of God. The Church as such is ordered toward eternal salvation of souls and out of love calls people to be free of all things that are impediments and obstacles to that end. But if people choose to locate their identity in those activities rather than as being children of God, there is little the Church can do but keep appealing with love and rationality. This is not the same as being exclusionary.

The "values" trap is part of the movement of subjectivism and relativism by which all behaviors may be justified, to replace objective morality. There is nothing hocus-pocus about genuine morality, it is simply the way the universe works--the bylaws of creation.. To oppose it is to be on a collision course with reality which will kill a lot of people before its ultimate crackup.


Mallon is a contributing editor for Inside The Vatican magazine, and a weekly columnist for Catholic Online.


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Morality, Ethics, Values, Catholic

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