July 2, 2018

We hear often these days that society shouldn’t have any absolute moral standards.  Imposing standards is oppressive, judgmental and outdated. Like Linus and the Great Pumpkin, it doesn’t matter what we choose to believe, as long as we’re really sincere in believing it.  Well, pardon me for pointing it out, but that’s…well, stupid (sorry, Linus!) 


There are all sorts of absolute standards to which we adhere.  A rock band might be filled with nonconformists, but they can’t each play in whatever key they feel like.  You might concede Hannibal Lecter’s sincere belief in cannibalism, but you wouldn’t go to his house for dinner.  It seems counter-intuitive, but freedom can’t work unless we all agree to abide by certain basic standards of right and wrong.  When we step outside those boundaries, chaos ensues.  That can leave a bad taste in your mouth, and I’m not still referring to Hannibal Lecter.  I like to illustrate the concept with a story from the days when my own kids were young.

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When my son John Mark was only 12, he decided one day to bake a cake.  My wife Janet and I returned home and were greeted by our son, proudly offering ol’ dad the first taste.  Well, it looked good, and I was already preparing some fatherly praise as I took that first bite.  But what came out of my mouth wasn’t words.  It was the cake.  It was so awful, I had to spit it out.  My first thought was that my son was trying to kill me for the insurance.


As soon as my tongue overcame its shock, I asked John Mark if he’d used a recipe.  He said he had, and he’d followed it to the letter.  Well, except that he didn’t know what a “dash” of salt meant, so he decided a cup of salt should be enough. 


Now, my son worked hard on that cake…he had the best of intentions…and he sincerely believed he’d done a good job.  But hard work, good intentions and sincere beliefs meant nothing once he decided he could make up his own measurement standards.  That’s literally a recipe for disaster.


Freedom can’t exist in a moral vacuum.  It makes some people uncomfortable to hear this, but without clear boundaries of right and wrong, the very concept of liberty breaks down.  A person might argue that he should be free to look at pictures others find offensive.  But if it’s a photo of a child who’s being exploited, then there’s more at stake than just the liberty of the viewer.  We’re currently having a big media controversy over whether to separate children from parents who cross the border illegally, but very few people bring up the fact that the parents chose to bring their children along as they knowingly violated federal immigration law.  

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Self-government can’t mean each of us lives by our own unique set of rules.  If that’s how you define liberty, then you’re just going to get less of it.  When people live outside the boundaries of a principled and agreed-upon moral code, it always leads to government that’s bigger and more intrusive, just to force people to do the right thing.  Not to mention creating an avalanche of lawsuits. 


If you think more lawyers and bigger government actually improve society, then I have a delicious cake recipe I’d like to sell you.  Then again, no…taking your money for that cake recipe would definitely be morally wrong. 


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Comments 1-25 of 67

  • Heidi McJunkins

    04/03/2019 07:48 PM

    I always enjoy listening to what you have to say! You are practical, intelligent, and RIGHT!! Thank you for standing up for right!

  • Patti V Draper

    04/03/2019 07:15 PM

    Great and insightful essay, as always.

  • Connie L. Bickel

    07/15/2018 09:48 PM

    Oh my goodness, Mike, we need to feed some people that cake -- just to make a very large point!
    I agree 100% with your commentary on freedom. I wish I knew how to send it to everyone of my friends.--I'm working on that.

  • Lillian Shumway

    07/10/2018 06:49 PM

    Moral laws are needed. The Bible gives us 10 Commandment and moral standards to live by. Our country would be much better of if we all followed GOD'word and the Commandments. Without laws and God leading us this world would be a very evil place to live.


  • Linda Bowles

    07/08/2018 07:47 PM

    I agree completely with you on this.

  • Roberta Morrison

    07/07/2018 11:51 PM

    I remember a story one of the Mormon Apsoils told about a Chinese professor who had been teaching at BYU in the '60s or '70s. He asked him what the most amazing thing he'd learned from his time in America, and the professor replied it was how important religious faith is to the order of a democratic society. That it was the belief of the people in a God who would hold them accountable for their own actions that made them willing to follow the laws of the land without having to use a police state to enforce those laws. Kind of explains why so many who reject religion can't manage to behave themselves like civilized beings.

  • Russell Parish

    07/07/2018 09:34 PM

    Mike, I know you are right on the morals or lack of. The past year this country has had several mother nature related disasters. I think GOD has had enough of the hate and ungodly of people. I told my wife and others I feel he is punishing all four corners of the great country and it will continue for another year. Just look what has happen on the east coast (north and south) and now on the west coast. Jesus said to Love one another and we need to repent as a country to receive his mercy.

  • Bobbe Wilson

    07/05/2018 07:55 PM

    Morals and moral values are SO important! Morals are the cornerstone of who were are as a people, what we value as a people!

  • lloyd tiegs

    07/05/2018 02:13 AM

    I agree. Freedom only works when enough people recognize that all power comes from God.
    The "new American" magazine had a great article a few issues back. ( I cant find my copy right now)
    It pointed out that our country survives wars, depression, etc because it is the only country that started and continues with the idea that God sets the rules at the top,

  • Arvid Freiberg

    07/04/2018 12:22 PM

    Sad to say today's idea of freedom is illconcieved.

  • Doug Skinner

    07/04/2018 10:49 AM

    I agree with your statement about our morals. However a person's morals comes from their God. He tells us what is right and wrong. The only problem I see is many today are following a false god. Many seem to have followed the Communist/Socialist Ideology, that being the Party is their god. I am 67 years old , so I remember the old USSR and their morals came from the "ANYTHING THAT'S GOOD FOR THE PARTY" creed. Therefore lie, cheat, steal, even murder is OK if it is good for the PARTY. So we must be careful as to who we ask to live by their morals. That is why when someone says they believe in god, I must ask which God, even though I know there is only one true, living God.

  • Gary A. Suddith

    07/03/2018 04:23 PM

    I refer you to Andy Anderson's "The Traveler's Gift" and other books he wrote. His explanation of standard is awesome. "Once you put the 's' on the end of the word standard, you negate the definition. There are not standards. There is a standard, and only one." paraphrased. His explanations are awesome. He would make a great guest on your show by the way.

  • Gary Reese

    07/03/2018 12:00 PM

    When we took prayer out of school and the Ten Commandments out of public places we started declining in moralty.
    Accepting single parenting has also been a disaster.
    The way we push the elderly into homes because families are not strong or too scattered has exasperated moral standards of old.
    We all need to hold the golden rule high on our list, we all need more God in our lives.

  • Ann Bruce Pineda

    07/03/2018 11:36 AM

    Wow!!!! I may not agree with you on absolutely everything, but you hit the nail on the head here. Having lived in and taught in El Salvador since 1973, I know most people here will never agree with us about plagiarism, cheating, and lying. I would have given the movie "Desierto" an A+ as a modern version of Moby Dick, but I have very little sympathy for the family whose daughter was used by John Moore (Getty), CNN, and Time magazine. The child looked malnourished and pychologically scarred before her photo was placed in front of that of Trump. I understand why one of my friends, probably one of the most dedicated servants of the Lord and His most vulnerable, refused to pray for one of the scholarship students our church had supported for years. Patty planned to go to the States illegally with her brother. I had lent her money to get her family out of the claws of a loan shark with the understanding that she'd pay off the loan, not use my money to become an undocumented immigrant. She and her brother hadn't even planned carefully and didn't have CNNEE encouraging them, so they had to come back to El Salvador. Anyway, Patty ended up going to Spain, where she had a cousin. I loved her family from the time they left the rural area of El Salvador during the Civil War until the time I finally said, "The debt is cancelled but don't contact me again, please."

  • Heather Curry

    07/03/2018 10:54 AM

    Of course, then comes the question of who sets the standards. Any godly Christian would say that God set the standards in His Word, the Bible. But this world will not accept that. To them it is foolishness unless it benefits them. Murder is only wrong if they or people care about are murdered, but try to get them to legislate against the murder of unborn children. They won't. Some pregnancies are just too inconvenient and those mothers NEED to have the right to murder in those cases! (Nevermind that there are millions of willing couples desperately lining up to adopt babies because they can't have their own!) Then try to legislate against a freedom they think they should have. Let's say cigarettes or alcohol. Those things, they believe, should be perfectly legal for any adult to use. But then, let a drunk driver kill their son, or lung cancer kill their mother. Now how good do those freedoms look? This is why we MUST use the Bible as our guide for moral instruction. Man/woman kind cannot, because of his/her sinful flesh and self-serving desires, morally legislate himself/herself. This is why God gave His law: to show us that we can't fulfill it without His help and will destroy ourselves (and one another) if we don't seek Him with all of our hearts. It is through Jesus that the law was fulfilled, and through His Holy Spirit that we, too, are able to fulfill it. If with everything we say and do, we sincerely question whether it would be pleasing to the Father (and honestly desire to do that, as Jesus did) we will rarely go wrong. It is only by seeking to understand God rightly through His Word that we can truly know the difference between right and wrong. Morality without God is honest to goodness foolishness.

  • Marcia Harris

    07/03/2018 09:52 AM

    Thank you for this! Reading and studying the Old Testament (Particuliarly the History Books of 1, 2 Chronicles and 1,2 Kings) clearly shows the decline and eventual downfall of all of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob’s future generations. Almost every one of Israel’s/Judah’s sins that led to their eventual destruction and captivity have already began in the United States of America. Some of these are called “cultural shifts” and even “cultural enrichment” by media/propagandists. However, if this Country fails to turn back to our moral underpinnings (the recipe!) (yes, “religious” roots) the end of the story will be the same. Right now, we ARE your Rock Band with each member selecting their iwn favorite key to “play the song.”

  • Pearl. Nicholas

    07/03/2018 09:31 AM

    One of our leaders stated at time of sighing Constitution, Ben Franklin, this will only work with a moral authority. Even the worst of gangs have rules to go by. To say EVERYONE should be able to do as he pleases is ASKING FOR TOTAL CHAOS. IMAGINE A home with mom and dad , a teenager, a 8 year old and 4 year old ALL doing as they please. No thanks.

  • Pearl. Nicholas

    07/03/2018 09:31 AM

    One of our leaders stated at time of sighing Constitution, Ben Franklin, this will only work with a moral authority. Even the worst of gangs have rules to go by. To say EVERYONE should be able to do as he pleases is ASKING FOR TOTAL CHAOS. IMAGINE A home with mom and dad , a teenager, a 8 year old and 4 year old ALL doing as they please. No thanks.

  • John Eastlund

    07/03/2018 02:29 AM

    I absolutely agree, moral standards are necessary. By the way, presenting your family at a point of entry to apply for asylum isn't violating immigration laws. It's a human right covered by international law.

    But nowadays moral standards seem pretty loose. A pussy-grabbing multiple philanderer, who's been known to defraud people, and has no sense of decency when giving speeches or tweeting, can claim to be a Christian without demonstrating any knowledge of Christ or The Bible, and somehow is able to convince self-proclaimed evangelicals to vote for him. Is that insane, or what! Power corrupts. The love of money is the root of all evel. This is somebody who is destroying religious freedom in this country and is displaying authoritarian fascist tendencies. First they came for the Muslims, but I didn't care because I wasn't one .... When you're watching the child abuse going on at the border and in the for-profit politically-connected concentration camps, just ponder this - WHAT WOULD JESUS DO!!! Everybody has heard of the "good Germans" who didn't seem to be aware of what was going on in their backyards 75 years ago. Well it's time to hold this guy accountable to the Rule of Law and morality. Anybody who doesn't will fail a moral test.

  • Annita Louise Whisman-Rackley

    07/02/2018 10:40 PM

    Wise words, Governor. "Sow the wind, and reap the whirlwind," as the good book says. I was taught by my elders, "What one generation does in moderation, the next generation will do in extremity." The adults running amok in our streets and tearing down our republic, literally, e.g., pulling down historical landmarks, are the great-grandchildren of the sixties generation who cut their teeth at Woodstock and other similar pagan goings-on. This is a lawless generation, both in the letter and the spirit of the law. It's tragic to watch the decline of our CIVIL-ization. Listening to the profound ignorance of people who are interviewed on Watter's World is more than frightening. It is terrifying! We must cultivate voices of sanity, or this generation, tragically, might be the last generation of Americans standing on the foundation of moral standards for which our elders shed blood.

  • William R Taylor

    07/02/2018 08:33 PM

    I think your comments about immigrants irresponsibly bringing their children does not take into account that many are coming seeking asylum for their children and themselves from violence in their own country. I think part of the solution is we need many more 'asylum judges' who can quickly and effectively make decisions about asylum seeker cases. Can you please consider this?

  • Eileen Barayasarra

    07/02/2018 08:22 PM

    I live near where the California drug addict stabbed 9 people at a child's 3rd Birthday party. Today the three year old 'Birthday Girl" died of her wounds. She had been flown from Boise to Salt Lake City for special treatment. It did not save her.
    The criminal had his first court appearance today. He was brought to court shackled and in a wheel chair, twitching from drug withdrawals. His bushel basket full of dreadlocks kept falling over his face as he sat there being belligerent, denying the charges, refusing the offer of a lawyer- - now we get to feed the worthless piece of crap for 50 years on DEATH ROW! Idaho is growing at an alarming rate and I fear most of them are just like HIM!

  • Vicki Drew

    07/02/2018 06:26 PM

    Thanks for the Scripture. Evil cannot win over the Christian because no matter what happens, "He shall preserve thy soul." Good reminder!

  • rodney d burke

    07/02/2018 05:32 PM

    we were founded on principles that every one used. We rebelled because the principles we lived by were being disregarded by a tyrannical king in GB. progressivism leads to totalitarianism. Ask Cuba, Argentina, Vietnam and Burma.

  • Darline Brundage

    07/02/2018 05:25 PM

    When I was much younger than your son I made frosting. Watching my mother do it many times I figured I could do it. The salt said 1/8 or 1/4 tsp. I could not figure that out. So I thought about it and decided it meant 1 tsp. 8 times or 4 times. My mother tried to fix it (because we were really poor and she did not want to waste anything) to no avail , I did however learn how much the measurement meant.

    I also know what it is to have illegal's here and know how the other people protect them. I lived in Salinas, Ca. The farm workers used to be mostly white. I worked in the sheds. Of course they don't have them anymore. I remember after 3 seasons of working in the celery shed my friend and I went back for the 4th season and the foreman wouldn't even talk to us in English. That was in the late 60's. We were so disappointed as we made good wages in the sheds and let me tell you something, the Mexican workers made the same as we did.