Thursday, May 29, 2008

Christianity's effect

I found out today that in the state of New South Wales, a marriage certificate issued by a church is not a legal document. You need to have a government issued one as well. I'm sure it wasn't always that way. So it looks as though a government decision has been made to reduce the authority or standing of the church in this society. There has been quite a movement that way. The role of the church has been talked down by some secular legislators. Some commentators and self-styled intellectuals also try denying the place of the Christian church in society. Sure, we all know some people choose not to be Christians. They may follow another faith, or none at all. But it is a bad mistake to not realize what Christianity has done for our society. It gave us the grounding for a lot of important things.
For one: it is NOT a universal human value that life is sacred. There have been cultures and societies in which killing another human is not forbidden by law. To start with an extreme example, child sacrifice was practiced by some ancient peoples, in worship of the god Molech. Human sacrifice is illustrated in pictures which have survived from the earlier Native South Americans. (Incas or Aztecs, I can't remember which). Killing of one person by another was legal in some circumstances among the Australia Aboriginals. Infanticide was practiced, of children born with a handicap or simply where twins were born, only one was allowed to live.
The idea that ALL people are valueable and should be allowed certain rights is not a universal human right. Apart from the Spartans and their helots, there have been societies in which some people were held to deserve less care and fewer rights than others. Christian missionaries have been critized retrospectively because they 'interfered' with other cultures. They did! They acted to stop female infanticide, slavery, exploitation of the powerless by the empowered and other evils. It is a matter of deep regret that some people calling themselves Christians endorsed or practices slavery, economical exploitation and racial elitism. But the Christian Gospel itself does NOT. It commands people to respect others as oneself. It calls on all to respect TRUTH. And Christian ideals were the basis for the first European societies in Australia, the United States, Canada and New Zealand. Christian teachings were the philosophy behind British society for centuries. Democracy grows out of the Christian idea that all humans are human and should all have certain rights.
The world owes Christian teachings and ideals more than it cares to admit.


Lexi said...

Thanks for the comment. The book sounds great!

Alanda said...

Good post! It should be an editorial.