There is endless talk these days about the looming "fiscal cliff," the catastrophic economic nightmare that many predict will befall the United States if taxes go up and government spending is significantly cut come January 2, 2013, as mandated by the Budget Control Act of 2011.
To be sure, the stakes are high.
But all this conversation about an economic cliff has got me thinking:
Is there a moral cliff? And have we already reached it – or are we walking dangerously close to the edge?
Ironically, one of the reasons we're on the verge of this fiscal cliff in the first place is that too many have believed for too long that moral problems can be solved or managed through fiscal policy.
In other words, we believe that almost every problem can be fixed by spending money on it.
To be clear, I believe that government can and does provide noble services for the common good. I also believe it can, in certain circumstances, provide an appropriate safety net that prevents an individual or family from spiraling down to a point of no return.
But I also believe that the root of most of our problems is not money. It's sin and the fallen nature of mankind.
Throw all the government money you have at the problem of abortion and you'll never get down to the root cause of what prompts a woman to abort her own flesh and blood.
Throw all the money at the plague of poverty and you'll never get down to solving the most common foundational problems that send someone into it in the first place, which in western nations is usually tied to family breakdown.
It was the English writer G.K. Chesterton who once said that man must suffer for his morality. I think this is what the Apostle Paul meant when he observed that we reap what we sow (Galatians 6:7).
There are always going to be consequences to our decisions – and our priorities.
What will come of the fiscal cliff negotiations remains to be seen. What I do know, though, is that if we spent as much time as a nation working and worrying about our moral code as we do our economic well-being, we wouldn't be standing on the edge of either cliff.
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