I am arguing in this series of columns titled, "The Case for Judeo-Christian Values,"
that Judeo-Christian values as developed and expressed specifically, though not only, in
America constitute the finest value system in the world. If you care about goodness, justice
and compassion prevailing in an often evil, unjust and cruel world, you should hope that
Judeo-Christian values predominate on earth.
Is such an attitude, that there is a best value system, arrogant or even
chauvinistic or racist?
Let's first deal with the charge of "racism." It is difficult to overstate the
absurdity of this charge. How can values that are universal i.e., for people of all races
be racist? The charge is meaningless since people of all races affirm Judeo-Christian values.
In fact, outside the United States, whites, being largely secular, are the race least likely to
affirm these values.
What about "arrogant" or "chauvinistic"?
Though not as obviously so, these charges are equally meaningless.
If one does not deem one's value system superior to others (at least the others that
one is aware of), it is not a value system. It is a series of personal habits that one happens
to prefer. Moreover, it is very hard to find anyone who upon a moment's reflection really
believes that his values are not superior.
Do those who believe in freedom believe that freedom is not a superior value to
tyranny? Do those who believe in human equality believe that this value is not superior to the
belief that one race is superior? Is the "honor killing" of daughters a value equal to that of
allowing daughters to marry whomever they want? The list is almost endless.
The very implication of a "value" is that it is superior to any other. If you value
monogamy, you are saying it is superior to polygamy. If you value tolerance, you are saying
that tolerance is superior to intolerance.
All people are equal, but that does not mean that all values are equal. The statement,
"All people are equal," is itself a value, one which holds that human equality is superior to
any value that demeans or denies the intrinsic worth of other human beings.
But many of the best educated (and therefore least intellectually clear) will counter,
why can't people hold that their values are superior only for themselves?
The answer is that it is not only a misuse of the term "value," it betrays a complete
misunderstanding of the concept. To return to the examples offered above, do those who believe
that freedom is superior to tyranny believe that freedom is only superior for them? Can you
imagine someone arguing: "I happen to value the ability to speak, write, worship and assemble
freely as a value for me, but I do not believe that such freedom is better for anyone else"?
I am arguing that the Judeo-Christian value system as developed on the basis of the
Hebrew Bible and developed largely by Christians, and especially in
America, is the best value system ever devised. I believe it is superior to all other value
systems with which I am familiar. I believe that as a moral system for a society, it is
superior to that of the secular/socialist values that dominate Europe and the left in America,
and to any other religion. And as I argued in Part VIII, Judeo-Christian values are even larger
than Judaism or Christianity alone.
Is this insulting to members of these groups? Of course not. Is it in an insult to
Republicans that Democrats think their party has better values?
The reason this is not insulting is that decent and intelligent people understand that
better values do not mean that all those who carry the same name as those values are better
people. I think Judeo-Christian values are superior, but I would have to be a fool to believe
that all Jews and Christians or even all people who say they subscribe to Judeo-Christian
values are better than everyone else. All human beings must be judged according to their
behavior, not according to the value system they are associated with.
I fully acknowledge that there is a real danger of arrogance associated with having
values. The moment you believe in a value, you believe that value is superior to some or all
other competing values. And this can lead to arrogant thinking: "Everyone with my values is
wonderful; everyone else isn't. And I have nothing to learn from people with other value
That is why those who adhere to Judeo-Christian values must carry them with genuine
humility. There are wonderful people in every religion and wonderful people who are atheists,
and there are awful people in Judaism and Christianity and among individuals who claim to hold
But it is simply intellectual cowardice to deny that one's value system implies
anything but its superiority to some or all other values.