With the escalation of the war in Afghanistan and drone attacks in Pakistan have come increasing civilian deaths: bodies of innocent women and children pulled limp and lifeless from the rubble of what used to be their homes, as well as hushed accounts of abuses, civilian executions and rape by U.S troops. War is always war against women and children.
With all these headlines one wonders where are our purported “family values”? America’s conservative Christian population has used the phrase as a rallying cry for a generation, but what does it mean?
Well, if you ask what it means biblically, the phrase family values means that I should want for your family and every family what I want for my own. But if you are merely concerned with what it means in common practice, then it would probably go something like this: I want to protect my family from the evils of modern life in a “free society.”
Don’t get me wrong. As a husband and parent I am deeply concerned to protect my family from the evil influences of an increasingly secular world. I just happen to believe that fighting the world also means engaging it, as opposed to the circle-the-wagons laager mentality.
I also believe that if I do not seek justice for the oppressed, plead for the victims of war and for those who have no voice, then how can I expect my voice to be heard by a just God when I cry out? What right have I to expect him to protect my family values if I do not do what I can to protect those of others?
Do I want my children to grow up in a safe neighborhood free of bombs, mines, and unexploded ordnance? Do I want them to be able to sleep at night without lying awake listening for the quiet whir of drones overhead? Do I want them to be able to believe that all human life is sacred, whether in the womb or on a playground or a battlefield and not have to live in fear of being snuffed out at any moment?
If family values are something we want only for ourselves and not for others, then we shall have neither. It does not take a prophet to say this. The divine order of the universe decrees it to be so. As long as people in other countries are only dots on a map to us instead of anguished faces crying out for justice, for food, for God, then we have no right to cry out to God and expect him to answer our prayers for our-selves, our families, our communities.
Perhaps the problem is that we seek family values for ourselves and Addams Family values for others.
Let’s try an experiment. Look at the picture above. See the face of the anguished father. Now replace the face of the child with that of one of your children or a loved one. What do you feel? I’m sorry to have to be so graphic, but we Americans are so desensitized to what is done in our name, this may be the only way to make it real to us.
Now consider that we together have the power to stop this.