What Is The Judeo Christian Ethic?
It’s a term we hear a lot today, be it talk radio, cable news, the business channel and of course modern history. The term “Judeo-Christian” refers to something that has its source in the common foundations of Judaism and Christianity. The Christian Bible includes the Jewish Old Testament as well the New Testament and so the moral foundations laid down in Judaism are upheld in Christianity. The first use of the term “Judeo-Christian ethic” was apparently made by a mad man, a despiser of Christianity if ever there was one, a German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche in his 1888 book The Antichrist: Curse on Christianity. The early uses of the term “Judeo-Christian ethic” referred to the Jewish roots and identity of the early Christian church, but it wasn’t used to speak of a common set of morals until much later.
In 1952, President-elect Dwight Eisenhower, speaking to the Freedoms Foundation in New York, said, “Our sense of government has no sense unless it is founded in a deeply religious faith, and I don’t care what it is. “ I do not like the way Eisenhower phrased his remark because to us as Christians of course it does matter and history verifies the fact that America was founded on the principles of the Christian faith and not on the principles of atheism or Buddhism or Confucianism or Hinduism or Islam,
The Judeo-Christian religion starts out with the basic concept that all men are created equal. Thomas Jefferson in one of the greatest and most articulate statement of all time, said in the Declaration of Independence, on July 4, 1776, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — “
This basic Judeo-Christian concept started America on the pathway to its greatness and after the Second World War which was the bloodiest war in human history to date carried on the modern use of the term in American political and social circles. From Eisenhower’s day to the present, the term has become particularly associated with political conservatives in America, though there are much broader applications.
Several quotations from our Founding Fathers further illustrate our American Judeo-Christian Values and our separation of church and state, but not the separation of God from state; and provide grounding for the American understanding of social justice.
Thomas Jefferson wrote: “The God who gave us life gave us liberty.”
And also: “Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God?”
President George Washington said this when proclaiming our National Thaanksgiving Holiday: “It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God .”
In his bid for the presidency, candidate Mitt Romney at a Florida Debate responded “We are based on Judeo Christian laws and ethics.”
In our American military schools, it is commonly taught that the modern rules for war, like the protection of captives and non-combatants, are based on biblical themes. American jurisprudence is firmly based in Judeo-Christian ethics and celebrates that fact with a variety of artwork throughout Washington, D.C. In the House of Representatives there are 23 marble relief portraits of great lawgivers, including Moses, who is given the central point of focus. The sculptures over the main entrance to the Supreme Court building are centered on Moses with the Ten Commandments, and there are several other representations of Moses and the Ten Commandments in various places throughout the building.
Though there are many aspects to the Judeo-Christian ethic, some of the more common ones are the sanctity of human life, personal responsibility, a high regard for marriage, and compassion for others. Much of what is best in Western civilization can be directly attributed to the Judeo-Christian ethic. The foundations of the Judeo-Christian ethic can be summarized in the “Golden Rule” which Jesus taught His disciples in Matthew 7:12, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”
Every nation has a part of its history that it is not proud of. History reminds us that no nation has lived up to its highest ideals. But in spite of its spots and wrinkles, and injustices America is still the greatest nation on earth. No people have enjoyed such blessings of freedom and prosperity as we have for the last two-hundred plus years. And that has not been by accident but by divine design; it has been due to the level that its people lived up to its founding Judeo Christian ethics.
“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.”