When moral values decline and we have nothing to say

Filed on 14 January 2012 in Food For Thought category. Print This Page

When moral values decline and we have nothing to say

Excerpt from Breakpoint http://www.breakpoint.org/bpcommentaries/entry/13/18531 Jan 11,2012

Dr. Stephen Anderson teaches philosophy at A.B. Lucas Secondary School in Ontario, Canada. His students had just finished a unit on metaphysics and were about to start one on ethics.

To jump start the discussion and to “form a baseline from which they could begin to ask questions about the legitimacy of moral judgments of all kinds,” Anderson shared with them a gruesome photo of Bibi Aisha, a teenage wife of a Taliban fighter in Afghanistan. When Bibi tried to get away from her abusive husband, her family caught her, cut off her nose and ears, and left her to die in the mountains. Only Bibi didn’t die. Somehow she crawled to her grandfather’s house, and was saved in an American hospital.

Writing in Education Journal magazine, Anderson relates how he was sure that his students, “seeing the suffering of this poor girl of their own age, [they] would have a clear ethical reaction,” one they could talk about “more difficult cases.”

But their response shocked Anderson. “[He] expected strong aversion [to it], … but that’s not what I got. Instead, they became confused . . . afraid to make any moral judgment at all. They were unwilling to criticize,” as he said, “any situation originating in a different culture. They said, ‘Well, we might not like it, but maybe over there it’s okay.’”

Anderson calls their confusion and refusal to judge such child mutilation a moment of startling clarity, and indeed it is. He wonders if it stems not from too little education, but from too much multiculturalism and so-called “values education,” which is really just an excuse for moral relativism.

Wow! As CSLewis said in those memorable 3 lectures at Durham University in 1943 now titled The Abolition of Man, the move away from moral values in teaching would lead to “men without chests”, lacking moral formation and moral character.

J I Packer, in his brilliant article Surprised by Lewis in Christianity Today Sept 1998, writes:

The Abolition of Man was the waving of a red flag at an oncoming juggernaut that would reduce education to the learning of techniques and so dehumanize and destroy it, tearing out of it that which is its true heart. The attempt was ignored, and today we reap the bitter fruits… The inner desolation and desperation that young people experience as subjectivist relativism and nihilism are wished upon them in schools and universities is a tragedy.

Lewis, in his lecture, writes:

The practical result of (such) education… must be the destruction of the society which accepts it. Stepping outside the (moral values), they have stepped into the void.  Nor are their subjects necessarily unhappy men.  They are not men at all: they are artefacts.  Man’s final conquest has proved to be the abolition of man.

So, parents, Christian teachers – in all schools – Sunday School teachers, leaders – whoever you are – be not afraid! Hold your Christ standard high. Let Jesus be our example in tolerating tax collectors (!) and sinners, not condemning the woman taken in adultery, not condemning the criminal on the cross or other penitents, but very condemning of the leading astray of the people by the Pharisees, very condemning of any who would cause a little one to fall or who would seek to impose their own lack of moral values upon others.

Lachlan Dunjey. 14 Jan 2012.

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