UI – Part 357 – American Values and Religion (a 2 part series)
(This is the second of two parts, the first appearing last week)
Those in Authority
Governing bodies have certain legislative power to enact laws designed to protect and make safe all residents without regard for race or religious preference (or no religion). Major criminal acts are covered, such as murder, home invasion, rape, theft, and violent acts conducted against another human. These are manmade laws with a proper intended purpose designed for the common good. They are civil laws without a religious, or theocratic, intent. These are not God’s or Allah’s laws, but may consider fully Biblical and Quranic ethical and moral values when legislating what is best for everyone. These are logical laws. The rest, as to personal conduct and right vs wrong, is left to the individual and how one views their relationship with God.
A Gift from God
God provided humans uniquely with the gift of intellect, to include discernment. Discerning right from wrong is generally not that difficult. The self becomes the painful element that is tested by the want to do what may be wrong, but is most satisfactory to self, although generally only temporarily. Resistance to committing evil, devious, deceitful acts against another human can be difficult for many, but it is a hurdle that the human must overcome. Education, experience, parental guidance, teachers and spiritual leaders can help humans to learn what is right and what is wrong. The Bible can be understood as a book that informs humans, gives them the palette that paints the picture of what are correct actions, and just how God, his wrath, can and will respond to wrong. It is the handbook for mankind to enable them to be aware of the dangers they may face and how to deal with them. The dangers are the temptations; they lie in wait for every one of us. They are in the shadows as well as in broad daylight. They are everywhere and no matter how hard a theocracy may try scrubbing the world of darkness, it can only result in the darkness of the decision makers, the religious or autocratic authorities, exercising power, and often enjoying the benefits they receive in doing so. This too is evil.
For me the Quran is a bit confusing. It follows the Bible in terms of ethical and moral values, but allows for Allah to be the best of deceivers. To me that alters potentially, any truth. It calls for sinners to see that hell is their resting place. It then places Muslims in a superior position, regardless of their evil acts or nature, to that of non-Muslims, even Muslims with whom they disagree (heretics) and allows for violent acts against them when any form of resistance towards the spread of Islam is put forward. Also those, who may be strongly committed to the Lord, Christ followers, are immediately condemned with calls for the fires of hell to engulf them; if not by the hands of Satan or Allah, but the Muslim warriors, the violent jihadists themselves. Their reward, an etherial realm with consorts to satisfy any perverted whim they may have.
A Fact to be Known
We are left to our own devices. Independent and autonomous, we must decide for ourselves the path we are to follow. We must learn to swim with the sharks and not be bitten. We cannot keep them at bay.
The brain is a wonderful gift from God. But our hormones and emotions are gifts as well. We battle the brain and the hormones most of our lives. Our egos make decisions mostly for ourselves. Being humble is not easy. Blaming others is an excuse, but at times much easier than accepting responsibility for our own actions.
Being righteous in God’s eyes is not a matter of doing right each and every day, or having a life filled with more good actions than evil actions. It is not deeds that are measured by God, but a heart and commitment to God, and a worthy effort to honor that commitment each day. God provided for those who choose to be saved. Salvation is assured for those who know Christ.
We are tempted as a test. A test of our ability to understand right from wrong, love from pleasure. If we seem to lack the proper awareness then God provided a book, the Bible, to give us the clues necessary to answer the riddles and respond well to the choices offered in a free society.
Without freedom and all the bad that appears to dwell within such societies it would not be possible to make our own choices. Or it would take an act of significant resistance to overcome imbedded cultural practices and constraints on what an individual may be able to do, whether they want to or not. If we never have the freedom to explore, to learn, to consider other religions or pathways we will never really know God, nor will it be possible to have a relationship with Him.
We all must evolve from the cultural constraints in which we were born and grew to become the butterflies of the world. When we fly we face new dangers and must be able to take the necessary actions, with knowledge and awareness, to avoid the pitfalls that can prevent finding the door to the eternal city which God has opened by giving his son the key.
The pavement beneath our feet will always have potholes and curves and turns that need to be taken. The dangers we face cannot be eliminated. No Christian, no Muslim, no Jew, no person can make the highway perfect. Muslims may try, but they will fail. Christians accept there will be trouble and plow forward, knowing God will guide them. That is what the American value system and freedom allows.
Obama will not save anyone from America’s excess freedoms. Congress will not save Americans. Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton will not save Americans. Islam will not save Americans or the children of Muslims in America. It is up to just YOU. But people can vote for the one they feel will be the leader that God would have chosen to establish a proper moral and ethical foundation for all Americans.
In Iran or Saudi Arabia, as much as the Imams and other spiritual leaders try, with the support of the government, they cannot kill their way to a perfect society. No matter how strong a foundation is laid, comprised of strict moral standards, those prone to sin will find a way. Even the closets of the authorities and the religious leaders have secrets.
If you want to be saved, then allow Christ into your heart. You will save yourself. It is an individual matter. Because you may be part of a moral society does not mean you yourself will be carried up in the stream of goodness to live a life eternal. You must become a part of the flowing water that will reach the shores of salvation.
Who Am I
I am a Christian. I prefer the freedom America offers. I do not agree with all the permissive elements that are in full view. Americans constantly challenge systems and practices with liberal and conservative, progressive and righteous, convictions. It is a challenge to me as well as others to live my life, to the extent I can, with an effort to do so, without giving into the the prurient pleasures and many other available addictive and potentially exciting opportunities available to test my resolve. Gambling would be one. It is for me to choose the life I live, and seeking God’s acceptance as a committed believer in the risen Lord. I am thankful for the saving grace of the Lord. I have stumbled, but thankfully the Lord gave me his hand and helped me up. No matter any attempt to close the door on sin, it cannot be done successfully.
Freedom or Not
The extent to which America has attempted in the past to prevent access to various temptations, such as alcohol (prohibition), drugs (cartels and dealers readily supplying), gambling (legal casinos and off-track betting), prostitution and abortion and more, an underground formed to provide the items illegally for those who could simply not resist. There was always a market. [The term ‘underground’ I find fascinating reminding me more of the concept of Satan, his hell, always on the ready to take advantage.] Freedom or no freedom? I’ll take freedom and all the negative aspects that accompany it, expecting our government and the authorities that are put in place to keep us safe and to protect those who prefer not to become a victim of the system which provides access illegally.
Grace and Peace