It has often been said that our culture has lost its moorings. Like many times and places in history, ours is an era when everyone does what is right in his own eyes (cf. Judges 17:6). So this is just the sort of time God loves best, when he can demonstrate once more that he came in Christ to call not the righteous, but those who have lost their moorings.

But that is not our instinct at such times. When morals go awry, when people behave badly, our first thought is to hammer them with law: "Stop doing that. Start doing this." In the home and in church, that is certainly my instinct. And I'm often tempted to bring God in as an ally: "The Bible teaches … so you should …"

Thus I perfectly understand the drive of those Christians who call this morally unmoored culture to return to "biblical values." But too often, the call to return to biblical values is tethered to an attempt to manipulate people into correct behavior. Note the recent kerfuffle raised by the Florida Family Association—whose goal is to "defend, protect, and promote traditional biblical values"—when they pressured Lowe's to pull ads from the TV show All American Muslim.

This use of "biblical values" corresponds mostly to the agenda of political conservatives. But conservatives do not have a corner on biblical values. So periodically, we hear calls from moderates and liberals to make political decisions based on "biblical values," which in this context means concern for the poor and peacemaking, among other concerns.

Every once in a while, political leaders join the chorus, though they have to be careful. In December, British prime minister David Cameron got into hot water when he suggested, at a ceremony honoring the 400th anniversary ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

SoulWork
In "SoulWork," Mark Galli brings news, Christian theology, and spiritual direction together to explore what it means to be formed spiritually in the image of Jesus Christ.
Mark Galli
Mark Galli is Editor of Christianity Today in Carol Stream, Illinois.
Previous SoulWork Columns:
July/August
Subscribe to CT and get one year free.
Read These Next
Current IssueSpiritual Longing on the Silver Screen
Spiritual Longing on the Silver Screen Subscriber Access Only
How the makers (and watchers) of movies are engaged in a kind of prayer.
RecommendedGender Inclusivity Isn't Liberal. It's Biblical.
Gender Inclusivity Isn't Liberal. It's Biblical.
Why conservative theologians are defending changing certain Bible verses to include women.
TrendingKay Warren: 'We Were in Marital Hell'
Kay Warren: 'We Were in Marital Hell'
Through God's work in our lives, we've beaten the odds that divorce would be the outcome of our ill-advised union.
Editor's PickFinding My ‘True Self’ As a Same-Sex Attracted Woman
Finding My ‘True Self’ As a Same-Sex Attracted Woman
In my young-adult struggle with sexual identity, both legalistic condemnation and progressive license left me floundering.
Christianity Today
Why the Bible is Not a Book of Moral Laws
hide thisAccess The Archives

In the Archives

January 2012

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.