The Bedrock of Moral Integrity

An AFP article notes that during her husband's inauguration as Nigeria's president, the new First Lady wore what appeared to be a $50,000 Cartier wrist watch. This may not have stirred the attention it has received except that the country is impoverished, graft is rampant, and her husband ran on a platform to raise the integrity of public officials. While the people of Nigeria work this through, it serves as a reminder that Christian schools play and important role in supporting the morality of Christians and citizens - no small concern…
If you read very much from the time of the colonial, founding, or 19th century generations, you will find that they had a much more pervasive concern with morality. Generations grew up reading George Washington's Farewell Address (1796) in which he said:

"Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked: Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice ? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.

It is substantially true that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule, indeed, extends with more or less force to every species of free government. Who that is a sincere friend to it can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric?"

Some may say the founders were over-concerned and limited individual freedoms to too great a degree. Many states had "blue laws" against working on Sunday, some laws punished blasphemy, homosexuality was a crime, drunkenness was often restricted, and there were numerous other moral laws that our "enlightened" culture has discarded. Whether the specific laws were good or not, the concern for morality, articulated well by President Washington, stands.

I have heard a number of scholars state ideas such as: "America has been spending its cultural inheritance," and "there is frequently a cultural lag in which the changes made by earlier generations are often not seen until later generations." Both seem appropriate to the topic of public morality. Much of what we think of as American (honesty, sexual purity, the value of marriage and family, hard work, etc.) was grounded in past religious admonitions that are rarely discussed today. Thus, we are slowly undermining the moral bedrock upon which our nation was built, grew, and prospered.

Nigeria's First Lady may have purchased her watch in an honest manner, but the suspicion of graft reminds us to teach our children that human failings are a reality. And those nations that have reached the highest level of liberty and prosperity were built upon the moral bedrock supplied by the Christian faith. Undermining that foundations undermines both our private and our public wellbeing.
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