Are We Creating a Culture of Moral Misfits?

brick wallNothing I write or say will do anything to comfort the parents of the children who were murdered by an evil person. I remember the effect the cancer deaths of three of my very young cousins had on my aunts and uncles. They were never the same.

Sending children off to school and then getting word that a madman has entered their school and killed more than 20 students elevates the anguish to an unbearable level. At least my aunts and uncles had time to prepare. Even so, when death came, they were devastated. Attending the funeral of my 17-year-old cousin when I was in the 9th grade is an engraved memory that will never leave me.

So what’s to be done? Liberals say controlling guns is the answer. Controlling alcohol and drugs haven’t worked. What makes liberals think controlling guns will?

Gun ownership wasn’t a problem 30 years ago. The culture has changed. There are no longer any social or moral taboos. Anything goes. Isn’t that what young people are taught today? Governments and the libertine culture create a problem and then promise that given more authority and power they are the ones to fix it.

Our nation has a deep moral problem brought on by a belligerent secular worldview. And it’s not just religious people who have seen its impact. Yale Law Professor Arthur Allen Leff (1935–1981) put it this way:

“We are never going to get anywhere (assuming for the moment that there is somewhere to get) in ethical or legal theory unless we finally face the fact that, in the Psalmist’s words, there is no one like unto the Lord. . . . The so-called death of God turns out not to have been His funeral; it also seems to have affected the total elimination of any coherent, or even more-than-momentarily convincing, ethical or legal system dependent upon final authoritative, extrasystemic premises.”

Put more simply, with God out of the picture, “everything is up for grabs.”(1)

In another article, Leff wrote, “I will put the current situation as sharply as possible: there is today no way of ‘proving’ that napalming babies is bad except by asserting it (in a louder and louder voice), or by defining it as so, early in one’s game, and then later slipping it through, in a whisper, as a conclusion.”(2)

Of course, the murderer was responsible despite what is going on in the broader culture. War tears down all sorts of moral barriers, but that does not excuse war crimes. Most wars themselves are crimes against humanity.

The blame-game has begun. It reminds me of a scene from the movie The African Queen (1951). Charlie Allnut (Humphrey Bogart) and Rose Sayer (Katherine Hepburn) are traveling down the very dangerous Ulanga River in Africa during World War I in an attempt to avoid capture by the Germans. Rose is a conservative Christian missionary and Charlie makes his living operating a small, dilapidated mail boat hauling supplies.

After passing out after one of his regular bouts with the bottle, Charlie wakes up to see Rose pouring the contents of one of his precious gin bottles into the river. He’s visibly upset as he pleads with her: “Oh, Miss. Oh, have pity, Miss. You don’t know what you’re doing Miss. I’ll perish without a hair of the dog. Oh, Miss, it ain’t your property.”

Seeing that he’s getting nowhere with this line of argument, he tries a kinder more subtle approach:

“Uh, how’s the Book, Miss? [referring to the Bible]. Well, not that I ain’t read it, that is to say, my poor old Mum used to read me stories out of it. How’s about reading it out loud? I could sure do with a little spiritual comfort myself.”

After getting the cold shoulder, Charlie lets his emotions fly and yells at her: “And you call yourself a Christian! Do you hear me? Don’t ya? Don’t ya? Huh?” She shows only a slight reaction but doesn’t say a word.

He backs up and goes about cleaning the relief valve on the boiler that’s shaped like a cross — symbolic of the impact Rose is having on him. He asks for mercy: “What are ya being so mean for, Miss? A man takes a drop too much once and a while; it’s only human nature.”

Without looking up, Rose says, “Nature, Mr. Allnut, is what we are put in this world to rise above.”

The problem is, our current culture — through the educational system — is telling young people that they are animals, in some cases, less than animals. “So genetically we are no different (really) from a worm, a bug, or a dandelion.”(3) If taught long enough, there will be some people who will begin to believe it and act accordingly with no regard for what we regard as a moral worldview.

  1. Arthur Allen Leff, “Unspeakable Ethics, Unnatural Law,” Duke Law Journal (1979), 1229–49.()
  2. Arthur Allen Leff, “Economic Analysis of Law: Some Realism about Nominalism,” 60 Virginia Law Review (1974) 454–455.()
  3. John Naisbitt, High Tech High Touch: Technology and our Accelerated Search for Meaning (London: Nicholas Brealey Limited, 1999), 163.()
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Michael Riemer
Michael Riemer

"then that is not my God." Well Gilgamesh, just who or what is your God? Where do you find the information about your God? The God of Scripture is a kind and loving Father. If you want to know about this God, why not read about Him? Start reading in Chapter 1 of the Holy Bible, and do not stop until you get to the end of His book. "shouldn’t parents teach their religion to their children at home?" Just what do you mean? That someones "religion" should be kept only at home? Christianity is not a, "just at home" faith or belief. If you are a Christian, it is everywhere you are. When you vote, your Christianity is there. On your job, your Christianity is there. How you look upon anything and everything, your Christianity determines just how and what you will do. It is an all encompassing belief, there is nothing "left out." It is all or nothing belief. If you can "leave" it at home, it is not Christianity. "God destroys innocent young children." God killed those little children? God made that man pull the trigger? God allowed you to post your thoughts, no matter how hateful, stupid or foolish they are. Should God have stopped you from posting your hateful message? God is there for you, just fall on your knees, pray, repent, and read His Word, and you will meet Him. When you meet Him someday; will he say this to you? "Well done, thou good and faithful servant?


If despite the fact the majority of Americans are religious, God destroys innocent young children to prove what, that evolution is bad, that prayers in public school are not allowed (shouldn't parents teach their religion to their children at home?) or perhaps, as a few say, that same sex marriages are an abomination then that is not my God. I find it impossible to believe in an all loving God that gets angry and tortures his children for eternity for making a small mistake.

Michael Riemer
Michael Riemer

"I remember the effect the cancer deaths of three of my very young cousins had on my aunts and uncles. They were never the same." Well written enlightening piece brother. Gets at the root cause of much of what is going on in our culture. However, I would like to take exception to something you said. But maybe not an exception, but an enlightening of the effects of a tragedy, and how it can impact and should change a Christian for the better. "Never the same." How true! We were married for 11 months when our first-born, a daughter, was born. She was just beautiful...(but aren't all newborns), long black hair, she even had what looked like, I'm sure, a smile on her face a few minutes after her arrival. However, all was not well. About an hour after her birth, something happened, she stopped breathing, which led to severe brain damage. After that, she never opened her eyes again, never cried, and was unresponsive. When she died 23 days later... we were weeping, the nurse was we held our little one, as her last labored breath left her lips, she slipped away. But it was a blessing, not her death, but it helped to make us more aware, of the grief and pain others suffer during loss and tragedy. It helped to make us better, for now we knew the comfort of the Comforter, the Mighty God, the Prince of peace. I still weep, at times, for our daughter, even after seven years. But it is not with great sorrow or hopelessness, but in remembrance of the blessings God can give unto those who are His. I have read about many tragic events, deaths, and disasters. I have read about many of the survivors, where, because of what they experienced and went through, great things were accomplished, blessings came from misfortune, heartache and sorrow. Those parents who are now burying their dead, had no idea when they woke that morning, that this would be taking place. When our daughter was born, little did we know, three weeks later, a coffin with her small body in it, would lay in the ground, but death comes too all, young and old. Let us as Christians, remember, We can do all things through Christ Jesus our Lord. We are now in God’s Kingdom, let us work, let us pray and labor for our Lord. In this life we will have sorrow, pain, and at times great grief, but if we let God have His way, something good will come of it. Let us also remember those, who will lay to rest, their little ones, those lives which were cut short by the madness of someone filled with evil. In Loving Memory of Hannah Marie Riemer Bitter Sweet Repine Oh my dear little one, Your precious life had just begun. So many days before you lay. So many joys would come your way. Your dear ones waited near your side, For your brown eyes to open wide. So many sights you would see, The beauty of the autumn tree. The waves upon the ocean deep, The memories of this life to keep. The darkness that held its sway, We wish you could have torn away. Our hopes, our plans, and desires, O my Lord you do inspire. What wishes we may want to see, All our hopes will lie in thee. But now her eyes are closed in death. Her precious soul with thee does rest. Your blessing and your love will hold, Our little one as time unfolds.