We Need to Bring Back Duty

Posted on September 25, 2011 by


  • A moral or legal obligation; a responsibility
  • Done from a sense of moral obligation rather than for pleasure

I was thinking lately that we need to encourage sense of duty among one another. Among fellow believers firstly, but among society at large also. We have become a people who feel it is a reproach to so something out of a sense of obligation. I ask: why is that? Better to do a thing out a sense of obligation or morality than coast along on the wave of what feels good to the exclusion of all else.

I think about this often in two areas. The first is in the context of familial obligation because it is something my own father encounters weekly. At 80 years old, he is in excellent health. It’s rather astonishing, actually when you consider the state of health most 80 year olds are enduring. His great fortune and blessing isn’t lost on him and one of the ways he expresses gratitude for his strength and vitality is to go regularly to a local nursing home and visit with the residents who are almost never visited by their own family members. In other words, if not for him,  these are people who would never be visited by anyone outside of the nursing home staff.

On Alte’s post about the blessing of children and grandchildren, Bike Bubba noted that when our overburdened social safety nets begin to collapse under their own weight, a good many people will regret not having children and grandchildren to come to their aid. He’s right even if we don’t want to admit it. But my question is,  why should we wait until our backs are against the wall before we do what used to be considered a normal and right thing to do? And how have Christians gotten so comfortable with the idea of putting away our parents when the Scriptures clearly outline our obligations to our parents (emphasis mine):

But if any widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show piety at home and to repay their parents; for this is good and acceptable before God.1 Timothy 5:4

And these things command, that they may be blameless. But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. 1 Timothy 5:7

I think that speaks for itself.

The other area that I think about when I consider our lost sense of duty is in the area of marriage. Our duty to our children to work at having a strong and godly marriage and our duty to love our spouse the way we want to be loved. And yes, I realize the two go hand in hand, but our culture has separated our duty to our children from our duty to our mates, which is why parents can have multiple divorces and still believe they are great parents.

It’s shameful really, and I never ceased to be amazed that we actually believe that our responsibility to our children does not include bestowing on them a legacy of a loving marriage to emulate. That we think can somehow compensate for a lost parent (the father in most cases) with trips and trinkets is an indictment of our seared consciences.

We need to spend less time thinking about the things that make us feel good and more effort on the things that are good. But this requires that we think of someone other than ourselves when everywhere we turn we are being encouraged to do just the opposite. All too often rather than asking what would be the right thing to do, we ask ourselves and others how we feel about a situation. While I don’t object to a sense of self-awareness and a bit of reflection, this emphasis on our feelings often crowds out the larger matter which has little if anything to do with how we feel. Feelings are fickle and unreliable. Righteousness, selflessness and nobility are fixed points.

We need to return to a  sense of responsibility and dare I say it…duty.

Posted in: Relationships