Future of Family Values

I was checking out the comments on an article I recently posted about (The Religious Wars).  I noticed the following comment which is typical of a certain religious attitude.

Sir:

I think that you have written an excellent article on the evolution of religion and one that I enjoyed,

I am an evangelical fundamentalist who takes the Bible as the inspired word of God as He is revealed in the scriptures. That leads me to treat all men with tolerance and to know that I do not hold all the answers.

I find that the one truth in the Bible that holds the most hope for the future is that of the need for strong families. Using grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles and the like as role models grounded in faith will solve a number of problems in our nation.

A feeling of family as opposed to a feeling of “I” will make abortion, gay marriage and other questions not so polarizing.

Thank you again for a wonderful read.

— Tom

What stood out to me is that this belief is based on a hope rather than on any facts.  A simple perusal of demographic data shows that the Bible Belt is one of the highest concentrations of immoral behavior.  Many have pointed out (including myself in several other posts) that there is no clear correlation between ideological moralizing and moral behavior, and my guess is that the more ideological the moralizing the less moral the behavior..

Specifically, the emphasis on family caught my attention with the above comment. 

Boomers are known as the Me generation which is largely true, but this misses the larger view.  Their youthful transgressions of “immoral” behavior (drugs, free love, etc.) led to a backlash, but the backlash came from within the Boomer generation and not outside of it.  The Boomers did two things: (1) they focused their self-interest towards money and materialism instead of mere pleasure and freedom, (2) they supported a major uprising of the Evangelical Right.  Before the Boomers, the GOP was the party of civil rights (e.g., Marin Luther King, jr.) and Evangelism was the religious movement of civil rights.  But with Reagan GOP became the party of big business and Evangelical Christianity became righteously ethnocentric.  An ideological shift happened in politics and the Boomers added a dimension of ideological polarization.  This strange Boomer-caused phenomenon lasted for almost a half century.

However, we are now again at the beginning of a new era.  Supposedly, GenXers are more focused on family and are more conservative than Boomers, but GenXers are less ideologically divisive.  Also, an even larger generation (the Millennials) is taking the stage, and they’re even more different than Boomers.  On measurements of moral behavior, they tend toward the lowest numbers that have been seen in a long time.  They are conservative in certain ways including a focus on family, but at the same time they’re extremely socailly liberal.

My basic point is that society is re-focusing on the value of family on personal rather than ideological terms, but this re-focusing is going against the ideological grain of fundamentalist “family values”.  Millennials embrace both the importance of family and the importance of civil rights issues such as gay marriage.  Suck on that fundamentalists!

One thought on “Future of Family Values

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