Such thinking holds perils for the nation. Moral wishywashiness, including sexual laxity, have characterized many civilizations that have lost their influence and greatness, a fact which ought not to be forgotten in an age of such intensely materialistic concerns. The united States, which for more than three centuries has lived by the Judeo-Christian code of morality, has attained an unprecedented degree of political freedom, economic well-being, and religious liberty. Surely its people and its institutions should not lightly accept the subtle and insidious notion that this code is outdated and should now give way to all manner of free-wheeling norms. As one Harvard scholar remarked, "We've tested the Ten Commandments and they work. We don't know what will happen to society without them."
With them, and with the profound precepts of the Sermon on the Mount, society can be assured of going forward. For the very purpose of the Judeo-Christian law is to discipline thought and action, to turn the individual away from a selfish absorption with material self to an awareness of and interest in the welfare of others. Practicing honesty, charity, purity, forebearance and other virtues, refusing to take advantage of others -- sexually or otherwise -- the human being overcomes his animalistic nature, brings to light his higher, his true self and identity, and establishes his spiritual relationship to his creator. Humanity, too, is benefited. Is not this Christ teaching the recipe for rooting out the lingering selfishness of the "me" generation?
Thoughtful social critics, while they may not use religious terms, nonetheless recognize the importance of teaching children self-discipline, cultivating moral and spiritual ideals, and giving them a larger vision of humanity -- above all through the force of parental example. Most parents do not need to be told by professionals that youngsters grow up happier and more responsible when they have chores and duties as well as rights, when they are made to feel their self-worth through what they contribute, not through the things they possess, when they have a purpose in life, when they learn to care about and for others, including the wider family of man. Perhaps one New England mother expressed it best when she commented at White House hearings on the family earlier this year:
"We believe it is imperative that our nation face the real crisis in our society today, that is that we don't know how to love. And I guess there's a great amount of tension created because we see so many people and families seeking self-fulfillment directly, rather than self-fulfillment as a result of loving."
Put in these simple terms, America's family problems should loom less formidable -- for they are problems we can do something about.