MARCH 2006 NEWSLETTER 

BY JOHN L. HARMER

 

Values define a society.  And what defines the values in a society?  Those things for which the members of that society spend time or money.  The money and the time that people spend on items that are discretionary, that is, beyond the basic requirements of food, shelter, clothing, etc. are those things to which they ascribe the greatest value.  Money and time are the language of value.  When one purchases a product or a service that comes from one of the anti-family entities that were identified in our last newsletter they declare that they support or at least accept the values represented by that financial commitment.

 

When children and youth see what their parents choose to do with their time and money they learn what their parents value.  It is the choices made regarding how to spend discretionary time and discretionary money that most clearly reflects values.

 

In our newsletter of last month (February 2006) we cited quotations from some of the leaders of many of the anti-family organization that are so powerful in America.  The response from many who read our newsletter has been, “What can we do to protect our children and our grandchildren from being influenced and deceived by these organizations and individuals?”

 

In our society today there is no way to prevent young people from being bombarded by messages from individuals and organizations whose mission and purpose is the elimination of moral values and the traditional family.  The only way to protect those of the younger generation from corruptions and moral destruction is to instill within them, from their earliest years, sacred values.

 

Thus, we say to those who ask, “…how do we instill proper values in our children and grandchildren?” how do you answer the question, “what is the message that is spoken by the way you spend your discretionary time and money?”  In other words, “what values are you teaching to your children when you assent to their decision to spend time and money to support the propaganda of the anti-family secret combinations?”

 

For instance, when a certain rock music band came to Salt Lake City seventeen thousand (17,000) teenagers and young adults paid twenty dollars ($20.00) a ticket to hear this band.  The day after the 2004 Presidential elections, the leader of that band gave a speech in which he said to the young voters of America:

            “Senator Kerry today said that now we need to come together and heal as a nation (****that!  There is no (*******) way I am going to come together with these homophobic flag waving, god fearing, gun-toting, uneducated, isolationist ethnocentric rednecks.  We live in a country that is in a shroud of ignorance.  We do not compromise or come together with them.  We fight them and everything they stand for…They do not care about gay people, they do not care about sick people, they do not care about black people, they do not care about poor people, they do not care about the rest of the world, they do not care about our environment, they especially don’t care about a woman’s right to chose…We are right and they are wrong…we continue to fight.” (Fat Mike, NOFX, November 2004, punkvoter.com)

 

We have previously published extracts from the obscene lyrics of the so-called music that these individuals sing, record, and receive hundreds of thousands of dollars to perform for the youth of America.  Most of the performing groups that are supported by our youth today in the “pop culture” utilize obscenities, vulgarities, and anti-family propaganda in all of their performances.  When shown in black and white exactly how vile the content of these lyrics really are most parents are shocked, even enraged.  Yet, when we delve deeply enough into the minds of these young people, they do not see any difference between what they idolize in the pop culture and the content of the television programs that their parents watch or the motion pictures that they attend.

 

In a recent editorial in the Wall Street Journal contributing editor Peggy Noonan gives insight into the values of the students found on a major college campus.  She wrote as follows:

            “I spoke this week at a Catholic college.  I have been speaking a lot, for me anyway, which means I have been without that primary protector of American optimism and good cheer, which is staying home.  Americans take refuge in their homes,  It’s how they protect themselves from their culture.  It helps us maintain our optimism.

 

At the Catholic college, a great one, we were to speak of faith and politics.  This, to me, is a very big and complicated subject, and a worthy one.  But quickly-I mean within 15 seconds-the talk was only of matters related to sexuality.  Soon a person on the panel was yelling, ‘Raise your hands if you think masturbation is a sin!’ and the moderator was asking if African men should use condoms, yes or no.  At one point I put my head in my hands.  I thought, ‘Have we gone crazy?  There are thousands of people in the audience, from children to aged nuns, and this is how we talk, this is the imagery we use, this is our only subject matter?’

 

But of course it is.  It is our society’s subject matter.

 

I was the only woman on the panel, which is no doubt part of why I experienced it as so odd, but in truth the symposium wasn’t odd, not in terms of being out of line with the culture.  It was odd only because it was utterly in line with it.”

 

What values do we communicate to our children when we passively watch television commercials that use sexuality to sell products, many of which are themselves specifically designed to enhance our sexuality?  Is it any wonder that we have had an inundation of pornographic materials flooding into every aspect of our culture when we passively endure the commercial presentation of matters that belong in the privacy of doctor’s offices and bedrooms?

 

So we return to the question posed by recipients of our February newsletter.  How do we instill divine values in our children and youth?  How do we give them the courage to be a peculiar people?  Paul’s counsel to the Ephesians set an appropriate standard for what we communicate to our posterity by the way we spend our discretionary time and money.

            “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearer…Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice…But fornication and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not once be named among you as becometh saints.”  (Ephesians 4:29,31,32;  5:3)

 

Early in our marriage my wife and I adopted a standard which we wanted to teach to our children by which they could judge the “value” of the discretionary use of their time or money.  The standard we chose was adapted from a quote that I discovered while serving as a missionary in England for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  The quote came from a letter written to John Wesley by his mother.  Wesley was a student at Oxford University.  As he entered the university he was confronted by a variety of temptations.  He wrote his mother a letter asking her for a “checklist” of what activities were acceptable and what was “sinful.” 

In her response she said to her son, “there is no checklist.”  Then she taught her son how to evaluate the merits (or value) of any given option as follows”

            “My dear son.  Would you judge the lawfulness of pleasure, take this rule:

            Whatever wakens your reason,

            Whatever increases the authority of your body over your mind,

            Whatever impairs the tenderness of your conscience,

            Whatever takes away your relish for things spiritual,

            Whatever obscures your sense of God,

            THAT IS SIN TO YOU, no matter how innocent it may seem in itself.”

 

My wife and I then taught our children to always ask themselves the following questions when making a decision about an activity or product or other commitment of the time or resources:

            “WILL THIS WEAKEN MY REASON?

WILL THIS INCREASE THE AUTHORITY OF MY BODY OVER MY MIND?

            WILL THIS IMPAIR THE TENDERNESS OF MY CONSCIENCE?

            WILL THIS TAKE AWAY MY RELISH FOR THINGS SPIRITUAL?

            WILL THIS OBSCURE MY SENSE OF GOD?

If the answer to any of these questions is “yes,” that is sin to me, no matter how innocent it may seem in itself.”

John Wesley taught his mother’s formula to some close friends.  Their determination to abide by that formula earned the derision of their classmates.  Some could not withstand the pressure of social ostracism.  They drifted back into the crowd.  Once again as members of the “crowd” they were no longer peculiar in their behavior.

 

Peggy Noon concluded that obsession with sex has become the culture of America.  We cannot accept that conclusion or abandon the next generation to that moral abyss.  For a young person to live by a standard of high moral values takes great courage.  It requires enormous strength of character.  Usually it requires the courage to stand alone.   How do children gain the courage to stand alone, to stand for decency and virtue?  By watching their parents.