When was the last time you heard someone use the word virtue? Have you ever used the word? Certainly the word virtue has lost its place in American parlance and has become like a virus, something to be avoided. Morally defined virtue was replaced by morally neutral values.
America, however, was once known as the land of virtue. Virtue was an essential ingredient of the American way of life. It was the element that bound us together. Daniel Webster stated in 1830, "Union we reached only by the discipline of our virtues in the severe school of adversity." Virtue was a necessary part of true freedom and was spoken in concert with liberty and independence in banners depicting our aspirations for America.
What Is Virtue?
Virtue is not a plague. Virtue is moral goodness. It is purity in heart, motivation and intention. It is morally sound behavior. It is not self-serving but other-serving. Virtue is the outward display of inward character. For this reason, the apostle Peter urges us to "add to your faith virtue" (see 2 Pet. 1:5).
When the Light of Virtue Dims
Crime increases as darkness falls. With the dawn of light, misdeeds diminish. So it is that as the light of virtue and morality has been quenched by purposeful and systematic snuffing of the candles of individual and social virtues, we see crime and numerous other consequences of darkness flood in upon us.
It is difficult to comprehend how seemingly intelligent, adult Americans—even Christians—can have slipped so far as to, for all practical purposes, call black "white" and white "black." We call immorality "choices," and we call the pursuit of virtue "bigotry," "rightist," "extremist," and "fundamentalist." Folks, our lamp is going out. We are groping our way in the late dusk of American society. In the words of the musical duo Simon and Garfunkel, "The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls ..." They are "sounds of silence"—moral silence.
Friends, if we do not grasp out for pillars of personal and national morality and virtue to keep balance, we are without hope. As I wrote in Renewing the Soul of America available at our website saveus.org, even secular writers have concluded: "For a fistful of dollars, Americans would do almost anything: lie, cheat, steal, murder, abandon their families, and change their religion." The writers conclude, "It's been said that an era comes to an end when its dreams are exhausted. America's dreams are wearing extremely thin—at least the kind of dreams that can sustain a great nation."
Virtue Is Not a Four-Letter Word
The most vocal elements of our society have led us to believe that virtue is "out" and moral neutrality is "in." We have been made to feel as if "virtue" were a four-letter word. I have good news for you! To quote Forbes business magazine, We must "encourage a 'counter-counterculture' that will resist the now entrenched 'counterculture.'" Because the word "values" is morally neutral, many influential thinkers now suggest, "Instead of talking about family values, everybody would be better off talking about virtues."
Let Us Rebuild American Virtue
The French Nobel prize winner Alexis Carrel stated, "Virtue roots us firmly in reality. A virtuous individual is like an engine in good working order. It is due to lack of virtue that the weaknesses and disorders of modern society are due."
Virtue and morality require a base—a foundation. Genuine virtue and true morality do not change. They are rooted in laws or nature and of nature's God ... in the Scriptures
Noah Webster, founder of American education, wrote, "The moral principles and precepts contained in the Scriptures ought to form the basis of all our civil constitutions and laws. All the miseries which men suffer from vice, crime, ambition, injustice, oppression, slavery, and war, proceed from their despising, neglecting the precepts contained in the Bible."
Virtue Begins at Home
Virtue begins with the little things. It begins with not calling in "sick" at work when I want to go shopping. It means not having my secretary or my child say, "He's not in," when I don't want to talk to someone. Give God a crack into your mind, your thoughts and your inner being—your heart. What does He see? What do you see? What do your children see? Do you have a virtue vacuum in your life? Either you fill it with godly virtue or Satan will gladly fill it with his deceptive counterfeit. America, your children and God await your answer.
Listen to The Virtue Vacuum on the Viewpoint podcast on the Charisma Podcast Network.
Chuck Crismier is an author, pastor, former trial attorney, president of SAVE AMERICA Ministries and host of the VIEWPOINT podcast. His website is saveus.org.
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