UI – Part 357 – American Values and Religion (a 2 part series)
(To be presented in 2 parts. The second will appear next week)
America – a Free Nation
As Americans we love the fact we are a free Nation. Being free we can be independent and autonomous. In doing so, however, we are less prone to being obedient and complying to a rigid standard. Freedom is not without its faults or problems. To the religious, elements of our social order are disturbing. Parents struggle with raising their children surrounded by the temptations available when freedom prevails. Good? Bad? What is your opinion? Look to what is before everyone of us from 1.) movies, the Hollywood dynamic of guns, violence, sex, drugs, swearing and nudity, to 2.) video games of war, the killing machines, victory at all cost, to include collateral damage, 3.) alcohol and drugs readily available from high school and then on college campuses where parental oversight no longer presents an obstacle and liberal professors and staff encourage the escape into reality through self-indulgent, individualized and available prescriptions to self-actualize, 4.) sex, a common and desired activity, male and female, the libido in action and often frustrated by peer pressure and lack of preparedness for the emotional consequences and toll, 5.) pornography as an escape mechanism providing an outlet when the companionship resulting in ‘hook-ups’ are not easy to achieve, but also a false sense love, or love without feelings, and 6.) music with lyrics that are seldom heard by the elder population but reflect upon the moral decay that is permissible in a totally free, unconstrained environment.
American Value System and Religions
The character of the American value system is abhorrent to Christians, Jews, Muslims and other God oriented religions. Those who do not believe in God, or a spiritual world, are more comfortable. Tomorrow means little for those living life for today. They fear death, the unknown, believing in only the temporal world. We return to dust. They see nothing after life today. An eternal order is non-existent. Many argue constantly against those who believe, for what reason I do not fully understand, except possibly they doubt their own convictions (no God) and counter their insecurity, or fear of the unknown, by seeking others to agree and support their supposition. They simply cannot leave those alone who believe in a temporal as well as a spiritual world.
How these religions that find America’s values a problem cope with freedom need to understand a number of factors. The most important is that we cannot keep out the temptations of the temporal world. No walls, no dictates, no requirements, no punishment, and no legislation can totally eliminate sin, a sinful nature, and the teasers that cause the weak to fall. And we are all sinners. No matter the size of the religious mantel anyone wears, we and they have been tempted and succumbed.
American values do not reflect upon Christian morals and ethics. Muslims wrongly view American values as Christian values. Christianity is a moral religion. Islam is a moral religion. We just go about how be believe differently.
We live today in a setting where those who believe in God are challenged, Christianity is attacked, even by Obama who claims to believe in Christ. Individual proclamations of faith are viewed with disdain as counter to the culture and myriad of temptations providing pleasure, temporal indulgences, that suggest instant gratification is far more desirable than long-term relationships and moderation.
God is Loving and Mean.
God loves all humans and has a desire they come to the open door offered by the saving grace of his incarnate son who died for our sins, overcame death and rose to join the heavenly realm proving his sacrifice for the sins of mankind and divinity. The New Testament presents the story of Christ accepting the punishment we all deserve as sinners, for sinful acts, crimes against God committed in the past, present and future. Believing in Christ opens the door to a life eternal with God – the spiritual realm. God knows there will be sin the world. The first step for a Christ follower is to acknowledge that they are a sinner. That is when they begin to face the challenges of the temporal world directly as an individual and live their lives according to God’s outline.
Acts 10:39-43 (paraphrased) ‘provides witness testimony to everything Jesus did, to include his death on the cross, being raised from the dead, and being seen in the resurrected state, thus his divinity.’ There is historical, evidentiary support for each of these stages which confirm Christ as Lord. The affirmation of faith is presented in Romans 10:9 (NIV), “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:10 says simply, (parphrased) “with your heart you believe, with your mouth you profess your faith. Justified and saved.”
God is mean by allowing for temptations to abound. In America, in the Middle East, in Asia, everywhere throughout the world, wherever humans live they will be tempted by the pleasures offered in many forms. They are readily available in America and considered part of the value system that has become a component of the free West. Jesus was tempted by Satan, but did not fall prey to his overtures. What an example he set. But man is weak. Faced daily with a potpourri of stimulants to the wanton nature of humans, an appeal to the evil within, man must learn how to cope and combat that which is destined to destroy the character and life of the person. God provides the means by which one can resist, but it takes all the strength one can muster to be diligent and faithful to themselves and God in turning away.
The Christian believes in Original Sin. The fall of Adam and Eve left humans with the stain of a sinful nature. Admitting to being a sinner is a significant step in being able to face temptations and resist. Muslims and Jews may not believe in Original Sin but nevertheless acknowledge humans are weak and prone to the offerings of a decadent society. No one is perfect, except Christ, which even Muslims recognize (as Isa) as truth. Muhammad was a sinner. He even allowed for his stain to exist outside the boundaries of limitations established for his followers. That in itself is the sin of pride and taking advantage of a position of authority. And he is the example for Muslims.
Building a Dam Against the Flood of Temptation
It is not possible to build a wall around any society to keep temptations at bay. That is what Muslims try to do. Christians recognize they must conduct themselves according to their faith and the directives of living a worthy life. View the dark waters that surround us as a substance not to be swallowed or it can result in a spiritual death. The individual must decide the path to be taken knowing there will be obstacles that must be overcome. Is it a trial, a test, that God puts us through to prove our love and devotion, a heart for God and acceptance of Christ, allowing for a change in nature that avoids Satan’s lures. God knows even the most devout will stumble, but he knows too their heart, their guilt and desire to atone to stay the course.
Muslims are wall or dam builders. They think they can force a body into submission to the dictates of Allah, the Quran proclamations, and erase from society any element of freedom to protect them from their own inadequacies, or weaknesses, by making decisions adverse to the dictates of Islam and thus self-indulge. Freedom is anathema to Islam. They seek separation from the candies in the sampler of life on earth. Islamists believe freedom allows a society to be a vessel for pagan practices that are shameful. That may be true. But it is like a gun. The gun does not load itself, cock itself or fire itself without the aide of a human. Nothing can remove the inclination of the human to want a taste of the forbidden.
Even in the most closed Islamic society they taste the fruits; it may be behind closed doors, thus secretly, but they reach out to have a try, even defining, for instance, giving the infidel female, for the male Muslim, slave status and thus available for conquest and satisfying animalistic desires. It is only when they are caught, however, not the guilt of committing sin, but the shame of being discovered that they may admit to being impure or find a third party to blame. The theocratic political Islamic state makes the effort, using violence as necessary, policing its people and inflicting punishment so severe at times to cause death, in an effort to increase awareness of the penalty of sinning. Yet that is God’s decision, not man’s. The judges of Islam are not to judge the heart of man, but they do. Is that not Allah’s right. Unfortunately the example set by Muhammad allows the followers to become Allah for a moment, for a day, and some for a lifetime, overseeing the actions of Muslims to insure they are totally obedient and submissive to doing what is right. They cannot exercise independence; the most grievous act is leaving the faith, the ideology, and choosing (freedom of thought) a different path. God allows for choice; if Allah does, you would not know by reading the Scripture of Islam or observing the actions of governing authorities of the nations of Islam to include their religious scholars, the ulema.
A major difference between a Christian (Jews also) and a Islamist is knowing the world cannot eradicate sin or those that provide the sweets that tempt mankind. We all swim in the dark waters of bad intensions, but the trick is to keep your head above and allow the light to shine on you.
More next week.
Grace and Peace