Sunday, May 21, 2006

Speaking against evil!

Hello friends,


It seems that in our increasingly secular world, the Christian gospel is being mocked, and scorned more and more. As a Christian, I am not surprised by this. We were warned in many ways by Jesus himself, that we would be persecuted as He was. When Christians do speak out against things which go against there own moral code, they are often labelled as being “extreme” or “fanatical” or “right-wing” along with a variety of other labels depending on the context. It seems as though provided Christians keep to their own “holy huddle” they can shake their heads and tut-tut as much as they like, but if they dare speak out against immoral behaviour or undermining of Christian values, they get told to keep quiet. However, when Christians don’t speak out, they are labelled as being irrelevant and having head in the sand.


SO what are we to do? Should we shut up and be “tolerant” or should we speak out and say when something runs contrary to our ‘religious’ sensibilities.


A Scripture was brought to my attention today that I believe has relevance in this discussion. ”Jesus said…”The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that what it does is evil.” (John 7:7)


So Christians are left with the following dilemma: and I do not pretend that this is an easily resolved matter. Different Christians will respond differently to this issue and I would not dare criticise either side of the debate as frankly, I am not sure. The dilemma is this:


On the one hand, taking a stand on any issue that has a religious or moral undertone in it, means that a person risks being labelled “politically incorrect” a supposedly heinous crime in modern society. After all, in today’s modern society, there are supposedly no absolutes.  A person cannot take a stance against abortion, because, so society says, it is the woman’s body and she has a right to make decisions concerning it. The whole question of where life begins is left up in the air. I could go on down this road with this debate, but I won’t – suffice it to say that I am Pro-Life – i.e. anti abortion, except where clearly the continued pregnancy represents a real threat to the mother’s life (not lifestyle). On the other side of the coin, I would be careful about coming over as judgmental towards people who perform abortions, or women who have undergone abortions (not that I know any personally) or anyone involved in the process of enabling abortions. I would not judge a nurse or a doctor who are involved in performing abortions and would never say that a Christian should not work for or aid in the carrying out of abortions. In this whole debate, the strongest argument for legalised abortions is that many back-street abortions are performed, where mothers’ lives are endangered. There was a case a while back where a young woman who had found herself pregnant went to one of the back street abortion places but the abortion went wrong and the patient was rushed to a government hospital where they had to complete the abortion in order to save the woman’s life. One of the nurses on duty in the emergency ward refused, because of her religious convictions, to be involved. She was sacked for refusal to follow orders and took the matter to court. I cannot recall the outcome of that case, but it was a difficult case with merits on both sides of the argument. I do believe it is wrong to become judgmental of others, as if we, somehow are superior to them. We are not any better than anyone else, and everyone, whether Christian or non-Christian blows it in one way or another. So who are we to stand up and say that this or that is wrong? The expressions like “Live and let live” and “c’est la vie” are bandied about. Tolerance it seems is the watchword of the moment. My question is can we tolerate absolutely everything and make excuses for every criminal act. Babies, not old enough to stand have been raped, and society is rightly horrified, but society does not seem to realise that this didn’t happen all of a sudden, but is a direct result of morals being gradually eroded and so what was not accepted in society became accepted, and then a bit more, and so on, and so on. It is my contention that society can and has become too tolerant.


On the other hand, Jesus saw injustice in society and he did not worry about the politically correct thing to do. He did not button his lip. He got angry and chased the money changers from the temple courts. Jesus spoke out against the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, and called them such endearing terms as “a brood of vipers” and “white washed tombs”  Jesus did not allow the Pharisees to stone the woman court in adultery, but exposed their hypocrisy. He however did not excuse the sin of the woman but said, “Go your way, but don’t continue to sin” – in this regard, don’t continue being an adulteress. I believe that there are times when as Christian, I need to take a stand and say something is immoral and wrong.   The problem with many Christians is that they develop selective blind spots. That is they are ready and willing to stand and wag their fingers at this or that perceived wrong, but when an injustice is being perpetrated by “their group” whether it is racial, political (left-wing/right-wing) or religious (Protestant/Catholic) they are not willing to admit to it. SO we have in the United States, a group people who are labelled the Religious Right or the Neo-Conservatists who scream blue murder against abortion and homosexuality and cry “Death to Islamist Terrorists” – meaning every Moslem, and yet refuse to acknowledge that George Bush, whom they support, was not entirely truthful about the reasons for going to war against Iraq. (Last time I checked – the ninth commandment says “Do not bear false witness.” ) . People known as Liberation Theologians are quick to condemn the injustices perpetrated by Capitalistic Governments against the poverty stricken Third World while at the same time, aiding and abetting terrorists fighting against governments. There is an English proverb that goes, “People living in glass houses should not throw stones.”  If we are willing to point an accusing finger at this or that injustice, we must accept it, when others point accusing fingers towards us. It is difficult to maintain objectivity when it comes to some issues, but it is important that we at least try, and that if we want to be heard when we raise a concern, we too must be willing to hear the other perspective on the matter  or when someone criticises us. But I don’t think that means we need to retreat into our ivory towers or bury our heads in the sand.


Christians are not the only ones who rant and rave over perceived injustices, or by any means the worst, as the recent outrage against the “Mohammed Cartoons” show. But it isn’t only religious ‘nutbars’ who get their knickers in a knot. Think about the “Green Peace” movement and the animal rights groups. Yesterday a group of fathers called Fathers for Justice disrupted a lottery draw  to protest against the law that favours mothers in custody cases in the United Kingdom.


Having said all that I am now going to comment on something that really annoyed me as a Christian. Yesterday I sat up late and watched the Eurovision Contest. The first country represented was Switzerland, and I really liked the song. But few songs later, came Finland. They sang a song called Hard Rock Hallelujah. The singers were dressed up and made up to look like demons. It was terrible. A mocking of Christianity. It really irked me that that song was the one that won it. But how, as Christians, do we respond?


I look forward to hearing from you. Let me know what you think.


Have a great week




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