Family values is one of those keywords that has been defined and used with great effectiveness by the Christian right. The poster family of family values has for years been the Duggar clan – 19 children raised in a bible-based home by a mother and father who have gained national attention, and of course a reality television show.
Family values has been translated as a mother and father, steeped in the teachings of the bible, opposed to the secularization of American society and its validation of gay marriage, abortion, marijuana legalization, contraception, feminism, Hollywood, and whatever the liberal left cooks up as essential for the “common good.” The Duggars with a dominant father, an obedient wife, and smiling home-schooled children reflect all that is good about their version of family values. If only Americans would adopt this version of family values, the country would not be in a state of moral decline.
With the molestation of young girls by Josh Duggar, including at least one of his sisters and Mother Duggar robo calling Americans to rail against homosexuals, transexuals, and other alternative lifestyles, perhaps it is time to revisit family values in this country. The Duggars no longer corner the market on family values.
Family values, 2015 style, likely starts with the premise that the family is changing – divorce, gay adoption, delayed marriages, cohabitation, and childless parents. It is certainly safe to say that the family of 2015 is not the Duggars. But family values is more than the current trends in American society. It is the values part of the equation that needs to be reexamined.
The family of 2015 could easily embrace values such as respect for others, tolerance of differences, concern for those less fortunate, a hunger for social justice, a commitment to volunteerism, and a desire to make the planet a better place to live and grow. Now the Duggars and the Christian right may indeed support these family values, but too often they are so wedded to narrow biblical guidelines that they often ignore the life and teaching of Christ and the message of the New Testament gospels.
Family values need not be fire and brimstone preaching, intolerance, and lock step adherence to a few lines of the Old Testament. Family values instead can become treating all God’s children as equals and becoming more human and humane.