The Importance of Value

A while ago I shared a post from Cross Examined titled “There’s No Need to Apologize.” Someone had left some comments addressing different parts of the article. This post is the second in a series that I address this individual’s comments.

The individual says:

“Regarding values, if I value something then by definition it is valued.”

But here’s the problem:

Just because something is valued doesn’t make it valuable. When we value something, that thing is designated as important to us. But importance isn’t the same as value. They may be used interchangeably, but they’re not entirely synonymous.

Value is intrinsic. Importance is not. Value is independent of what others think of it. Importance always depends on what someone thinks.

Cars and Wives

Just because something is valued doesn’t mean it intrinsically has value. For something to have value, it must have a value that’s independent of what someone thinks about it.

Say I want to buy a car. I’d like a Maserati, but I only have a dollar. A single, US $1.00 bill. But it’s my only one. Not only is it my only one, but it has a lot of sentimental value to me. Since it’s my only dollar and it is very meaningful to me, I’ve decided that I will only trade that dollar bill for $150,000. It just so happens that I like a Maserati at the same price. I go to pay with my $150,000-valued dollar bill and what happens? They call security and I get escorted off the property.

What I did was put a dollar amount on how important that dollar bill is to me.

Similarly, I may say, “I value my wife more than any other woman on this planet.” But when I say that, what am I really saying? Am I saying that my wife is intrinsically more valuable than any other woman on this planet?

Of course not. God created men and women in His image, so they are equally valuable.

What I am saying is that my wife is more important to me compared to any other woman. 

Value Cannot Change

Just because I assign a value to something doesn’t mean that it actually has the value that I’ve given it. For something to truly have value, it must be assigned value that cannot change.

Even gold doesn’t have this sort of value. If gold were as plentiful as grass, it would be worthless. We’d mow over it and dump the clippings in the trash.

Whether it’s our family, material possessions, a job, etc. Everyone has something that is important to them. It’s what cuts them to their very core. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean that what is important to someone has any value.

Value and Life

America has witnessed a series of mass shootings. We stand in shock as we listen to these tragedies and wonder, “How can this be?” Our insides turn as we listen to the death count slowly climb as doctors unsuccessfully try to save lives. Whether the victim is a newborn or 90, it’s just as devastating.

What we don’t say is, “Well, that person was 90, so they were about to die anyway. Oh well!” Or, “That person was a bum. They were 40, had no kids or job, and they were living in their parents’ basement.”

We don’t do that because we know that all lives are inherently valuable. It doesn’t matter how old the person was. A newborn’s life isn’t more valuable than a 90-year-old’s just because the newborn didn’t have the chance to live very long. We know that all lives are equally valuable.

One Grandma’s Treasure is Another’s Trash

My grandma collected teacups and coffee mugs. She packed them neatly away in boxes and never used them so they’d stay pretty and pristine. When she died, we were all surprised to find boxes and boxes of mint-condition teacups and coffee mugs! They weren’t antiques, hand-painted, or unique in any way, so they went to the trash.

If something can be “one man’s trash but another man’s treasure,” then it doesn’t have value. It only has importance.

It might have a monetary “value.” (At least until inflation makes the money worthless. But then we’re right back to importance again.)

Real Value Requires a Creator      

For something to have intrinsic value, it must be connected to something greater. Darwin demotes everything to worthless accidents. Materialism demotes everything to worthless particles. It’s only by having a Creator that anything is exalted to a level of having intrinsic value. To have real, true, lasting value, it must be given to us and spread equally to all.

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