David Hegg | Stick to Your Values

David Hegg
David Hegg is senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church and a Santa Clarita resident. "Ethically Speaking" runs Saturdays in The Signal.

By David Hegg

With election season in full swing and electioneering filling our mailboxes and TV screens, it’s time to remind ourselves that the most important decisions we make as Americans don’t come in the voting booth.  

I’m talking about the bedrock values upon which our great democracy is built. As Abraham Lincoln described it, our governing system is “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” That means each of us matters, and more importantly, our personal ethical commitments matter to all of us. Here are five core values that will continue to make America great if we practice them courageously, and pass them along to our children as part of their civil inheritance. 

God: “In God We Trust” has long been emblazoned on our currency and in our national soul. Yes, we are a pluralistic nation, with no one religious scheme mandated by our government. But it does not follow that we must, therefore, become an irreligious people as if the faith of our forefathers should now be considered criminal. Those who fail to recognize the necessary role God plays in our Judeo-Christian system of law are on the road to relativism and the chaos that comes when absolute standards of right and wrong are mocked as outmoded. Whatever else it may mean, “in God we trust” surely points us away from our own selfish pragmatism to recognize we are all accountable to something outside ourselves. 

Recently, in a shocking turn of events, the world’s most renowned atheist — Richard Dawkins — made headlines for bemoaning the loss of “cultural Christianity” in the world. While still rejecting religion, Dawkins did confess to being a cultural Christian because he realized the foundational ideas of morality have their roots in the Judeo-Christian tradition. Turns out even atheists recognize the need for the moral standards and ethical norms that traditional religious beliefs have given our world.  

Family: The smallest, most important social unit in our society is, and has always been, the family. As the family goes, so goes the country. But it is fair to say the drive for individual rights over the past few decades has eroded the strength of America’s families. Divorce, stemming from adultery and other selfish pursuits, has left millions of children in one-parent homes. And while I applaud the efforts of single mothers and fathers who beat the odds and raise healthy, well-adjusted children, there is no argument when it comes to the overall benefit of two-parent homes where mom and dad love each another. I strongly believe the best thing a man can do to improve his country is love his wife and build a strong home base from which to launch upright children as productive members of society. 

Community: The call to “love our neighbor” has long been foundational to the American experiment. Americans take care of one another and often sacrifice personal comfort and resources to do so. Whatever divides us actually weakens us, and the only remedy is to recognize that when differences arise, we must handle them differently than those who don’t care about their community. We must restore the true sense of tolerance and accept one another while reserving the right to disagree with behaviors and beliefs we find objectionable. We also must end our pathetic dependence on the government to take care of our neighbors and get back to being invested in those around us. 

Work: The American dream has always been earned through hard work and perseverance. Successful people have always paid their dues, worked their way up, and demanded excellence from themselves along the way. We simply must end the era of entitlement, where folks believe society owes them success. This will happen only as we reestablish the truth that recognition and reward are always found on the other side of hard work and accomplishment. 

Sacrifice: Lastly, we must recognize the value of sacrifice. Good things seldom come easy. Good marriages take daily maintenance. Good families make personal sacrifices in order to invest in relationships. Good companies are built on hard work, long hours and good old-fashioned sweat. Communities are built strong when we look beyond our preferences to meet the needs around us. Face it, the current addiction to comfort and pleasure is eroding our willingness to make the hard choices and take on the difficult battles that must be won if America is to remain a light of hope to the world. 

So, regardless of how the elections turn out, the most powerful weapon in your arsenal is still at your disposal. Be a person of value. Pour your life into those things that will matter today, tomorrow and into the future.    

Local resident David Hegg is senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church. “Ethically Speaking” appears Sundays. 

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