God's Value System

Chapter 1: Relationships are based on common value systems


Your value system is the sum total of your ideas and beliefs. It includes every opinion you hold about life. Each thing you like or dislike, and the importance each one has to you, merges to form your unique value system.

Your value system develops through what you are taught and experience, combined with your reactions to them, forming your preferences and your unique perspective on life. Ultimately, every opinion you have in life is based on something in your value system.

No two people completely share the same value system because our values are more than our moral beliefs. They are also shaped by our preferences for kinds of food, our hobbies, and types of entertainment. Not everything in a person's value system is a matter of right or wrong. Some of what we like or dislike is absolutely non-moral.

We can develop relationships around non-moral values, such as our hobbies and entertainment. However, in order to have strong relationships with others, we need to have certain values in common. Most significantly, our moral values must be as similar as possible.

The quality of any relationship is directly linked to the importance of the shared values. Two people may share a common interest in football, but if one thinks the other is a liar and a thief, they likely will not develop a deep friendship. On the other hand, if we have a mutual interest in keeping our neighborhood safe, our views on sports will not interfere with our working together for that common goal.

Relationships grow over time as the participants grow together in their values. When two people meet for the first time, they do not know very much about what the other person values. Each one makes assumptions about the other, some of which are true while others are false. Yet, over time, if they discover that they agree on their most important values, their relationship will deepen and grow stronger.

This is also true regarding all family relationships. Parents usually seek to instill their values into their children. As a child grows, she forms her own unique value system. She either rejects or retains her parents values, and she chooses how much influence each value will have in her own life. The quality of the relationship the parent and child share is completely dependent on how much they agree on each other's most significant values.

Relationships are based on common values systems and you experience this truth every day. You want to be with those who share your interests and moral ideas. Conversely, you avoid people who do not share values similar to yours, whether in moral areas of life or simply in manners or interests. In fact, it is difficult to enjoy a relationship with someone who is substantially different from you.

Of course, the true values that we hold are the ones by which we actually live. If we claim to value something, yet do the opposite of it, then we actually value something else. If I claim to value truth, yet lie, then there is something more important to me than telling the truth. My lies prove that I hold some other value more deeply than honesty.

Every family has rules or expectations of what each member should or should not do. The degree to which we follow those expectations reveals how much we agree with them. Although we might not agree on a rule or expectation, we might still live according to it in order to preserve our family relationships. In that case, we value the relationship as more important than choosing our own rules and having our own way.

Our actions are the first indicators to ourselves and others about the values we hold because the values that we live by are connected to what is most important to us. However, we can sometimes have other desires in our hearts that differ from our actions. To be completely at peace within yourself, there must be conformity between your deepest values and how you actually live. That is, you must be committed to your deepest values and seek to live according to them. Otherwise, you will experience inner conflict because you have not determined which values are most important to you, and every choice you make will not flow from a firmly held belief about that area of life.

This inner conflict is sometimes revealed through your emotions. When you struggle in making an important decision, it might be because you do not have a firm value about it, or because you lack the information you need to match it to the values you hold. From strongly held values comes a greater ability to make choices in life.

Experiencing emotion that you enjoy (such as happiness) is an indication that you are obtaining what you value. Getting what you want and having things done your way results in satisfaction and pleasure. Emotions reveal your values. The stronger you feel an emotional response, the more important the value is to you that is being fulfilled.

Although any fulfillment of our values can feel good, our greatest happiness comes from experiencing positive emotions that fulfill our values in the context of relationship. Relationships that make us happy are based on common values and are enjoyable, satisfying, and fulfilling. To experience them, we need to understand ourselves and connect deeply with one another.

Continue reading:
Chapter 2: All conflict in relationship is conflict over value system