An Example of Values Clarification

by Wayne S. Walker

Back in 1985, a Trans-World flight from Athens, Greece, to Beirut, Lebanon was hijacked by a group of radical Muslims occurred. This event remained on the minds of many people for quite some time afterward. The majority of United States citizens, as well as those of all civilized, freedom-loving nations, denounce such an act as cruel, barbaric, inhumane, and unjust. However, are you aware that this despicable and horrendous deed can easily be justified by a process that is currently being taught in most of the public schools of our land? That process is known as "values clarification."

The basic presupposition of this theory is that values are, in and of themselves, neither right nor wrong, that each individual must decide for himself, based only on the criteria of his own needs and wishes, what is best for him under any given circumstances. This underlying concept is called "ethical relativism" [also known as "situation ethics"]. Although it may not be overtly stated, it is nevertheless embedded in the presentation of values clarification, at least as presently practiced. But is it true? The Beirut hijackers felt that their needs in that particular situation dictated the action that they took. Yet, who will come forward to condone these criminals and defend their decision?

In order to arrive at his values, the student is taught to follow seven steps. The first is to choose freely [without relying on what parents, religion, or any other outside source says]. The Muslim fanatics evidently did this. They were not forced. Next, one must choose from alternatives. They obviously looked at all the options and concluded that the one they took offered the best hope for gaining their goals. Then, the student is told to consider the consequence of his choice [not necessarily how it affects others but how it affects the student himself]. The consequence of the hijackers' choice was either to achieve their objective if they succeeded, or go directly and immediately to paradise if they failed and were killed. They had little motivation to exercise inhibition whatever happened.

The fourth step is to prize one's choice, which was most surely done in this case. Step number five is to affirm publicly the choice. This they accomplished quite satisfactorily via television and other media. Sixth, one should act on the choice, and the hijackers certainly did this by stealing the plane and holding the hostages. Finally, the student is to incorporate the choice into a pattern of life by acting repeatedly on it. A casual look at the news will reveal that this is definitely true with Muslim radicals -- in Lebanon, Iran, and all over the Middle East. This is what they had chosen. Therefore, it must be all right for them!

Thus, you can see that the steps of values clarification may be used to arrive at justifying almost any type of behavior an individual might choose -- cheating, lying, stealing, fornication, adultery, even murder -- if the conditions are right. Many teachers of values clarification may deny this conclusion. However, other proponents openly admit it. The original promoters of values clarification had as their avowed intent to turn our society into a godless, amoral, subjectivist culture [under the guise of teaching "critical thinking"], and they appear to be succeeding. They are after our young people. Parents, be aware of what your children are learning in school and oppose "every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God" (II Corinthians 10:5).

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