Christianity Is under Attack‽

The first chap­ter of Ken Ham’s The Lie begins with a bold state­ment: Chris­tian­i­ty is under attack! I’ll let the inim­itable Jon Stew­art speak on that notion as only he can:

Yes, the long war on Chris­tian­i­ty. I pray that one day we may live in an Amer­i­ca where Chris­tians can wor­ship freely! In broad day­light! Open­ly wear­ing the sym­bols of their reli­gion… per­haps around their necks? And maybe — dare I dream it? — maybe one day there can be an open­ly Chris­t­ian Pres­i­dent. Or per­haps, 43 of them. Consecutively.

Chris­tian­i­ty has a pret­ty sweet ride here in the Unit­ed States. In my coun­ty alone, there is just about a church for every 250 peo­ple; they’re every­where! Pas­tors and church lead­ers are respect­ed mem­bers of the com­mu­ni­ty. Church or wor­ship ser­vice-like pro­gram­ming can be found on tele­vi­sion at all hours of every day. The Pres­i­dent of the Unit­ed States has a spir­i­tu­al advi­sor who is a Chris­t­ian, and next to a high­way in Ken­tucky, a 1:1 scale mod­el of Noah’s ark stands as a brazen tes­ti­mo­ny to Judeochris­t­ian fundamentalism.

If there is an attack on Chris­tian­i­ty, at least here in the Unit­ed States, it’s not a very overt attack. So let’s look at what Ken Ham is talk­ing about here. 

“These are chal­leng­ing days,” Ham says on page 17. “On the whole, soci­ety is becom­ing more anti-Christian.”

On this point, I’m not sure I dis­agree with Ham. We may have vast­ly dif­fer­ing under­stand­ings regard­ing what being “Chris­t­ian” means, how­ev­er; suf­fice it to say, soci­ety has been “anti-Chris­t­ian” or bet­ter, unchris­t­ian) for near­ly two mil­len­nia. Any­way, back to Ham:

We are see­ing steady increas­es in homo­sex­u­al­i­ty, sup­port for abor­tion on demand, unwill­ing­ness to obey author­i­ties, unwill­ing­ness to work, mar­riage being aban­doned, cloth­ing being aban­doned, an increase in pornog­ra­phy, and an increase in law­less­ness, to name but a few areas.

I’m not going to take the time to dig up num­bers for each of these to see whether they are increas­ing or decreas­ing or sim­ply fluc­tu­ate all all times in human his­to­ry. How­ev­er, it is clear that Ham’s idea of soci­ety becom­ing “anti-Chris­t­ian” is sim­ply “sin­ners being sin­ners” (with apolo­gies to my LGBT read­ers; you are not sin­ning by being who you are!).

How­ev­er, one does not define being a Chris­t­ian as some­one who does­n’t have an abor­tion or as some­one who is straight or some­one who, well, wears clothes.

Rather, a Chris­t­ian is some­one who active­ly obeys the com­mands found in Jesus’ speech­es through­out the Gospels; the crux of Chris­tian­i­ty is humil­i­ty, self-sac­ri­fice, char­i­ty, and so on.

Speak­ing of Chris­tians, Ham states that “Chris­tians are fight­ing for their free­dom even in so-called ‘Chris­t­ian’ nations.”

No. Just… No. I’m only speak­ing for the Unit­ed States here, but I can say pret­ty assured­ly that Chris­tians here can attend their church­es, wor­ship their god, and live a life of self-sac­ri­fice and humil­i­ty all with­out the gov­ern­ment car­ing much at all.

What Ham is prob­a­bly think­ing about and call­ing “free­dom” is the abil­i­ty for Chris­tians to dis­crim­i­nate against oth­er peo­ple. Think about it: The Bible was once used to jus­ti­fy slav­ery, until slav­ery was abol­ished in the nation. The Bible was once used to jus­ti­fy seg­re­ga­tion of blacks from whites, but that was abol­ished as well. The Bible was used to jus­ti­fy out­law­ing “sodomy” and pre­vent­ing homo­sex­u­als from get­ting mar­ried, but that has been done away with for the most part as well.

In oth­er words, where Chris­tian­i­ty is “attacked” is in where it attacks oth­ers. If Chris­tian­i­ty requires the abil­i­ty to lord over oth­ers, dic­tat­ing how they are to live their lives, then it is right­ful­ly attacked in those areas, if only to pro­tect the dig­ni­ty of all who would call them­selves Americans.

What has hap­pened in soci­ety to bring bout these changes? Why is it that many peo­ple are cyn­i­cal when you talk about Christ and seem to be closed to the gospel? There must be some foun­da­tion­al rea­son for this change.

What­ev­er forth­com­ing answer Ken Ham has, I sus­pect the more like­ly rea­son for folks becom­ing pro­gres­sive­ly dis­il­lu­sioned with Chris­tian­i­ty is that we are increas­ing­ly fur­ther removed from being a soci­ety of naïve illit­er­ates who rely upon the local cler­gy to instruct them of what the wise men of old set forth.

We have become a soci­ety which is glob­al­ly inter­con­nect­ed, and for a few decades now, we have had unimag­in­ably large sums of human knowl­edge avail­able to us in the com­fort of our homes via the Internet.

What we aren’t now is a loose­ly con­nect­ed soci­ety where­in a bump in the night in one per­son­’s home could grow via word of mouth to become a local leg­end of a haunt­ed house. The sort of defense inher­ent in a mas­sive­ly con­nect­ed, tech­no­log­i­cal soci­ety is bad news for a wide array of myths and leg­ends, includ­ing those which make up Christianity.

Years ago, our soci­ety was based on Chris­t­ian absolutes.

I’m going to let the Treaty of Tripoli speak here, as it was signed by Pres­i­dent and Found­ing Father John Adams: “the Gov­ern­ment of the Unit­ed States of Amer­i­ca is not, in any sense, found­ed on the Chris­t­ian religion.”

Fur­ther, what Chris­t­ian absolutes?! Choose two church­es at ran­dom, and you’ll find that they dis­agree on some fair­ly fun­da­men­tal matters!

One mat­ter which most (not all) Chris­t­ian church­es will agree on, though, is that you must wor­ship God, else you will in some way be pun­ished. On the oth­er hand, the Amer­i­can founders made the very first free­dom afford­ed to the cit­i­zens of their fledg­ling nation some­thing which is com­plete­ly con­trary to the bib­li­cal man­date of wor­ship­ping God: “Con­gress shall make no law respect­ing an estab­lish­ment of reli­gion, or pro­hibit­ing the free exer­cise thereof.”

Were our soci­ety actu­al­ly based upon “Chris­t­ian absolutes,” the First Amend­ment would have began some­thing like, “Con­gress shall make no law con­trary to God’s law, and the free exer­cise of oth­er reli­gions is prohibited.”

Peo­ple knew what was right and what was wrong. Behav­iors such as sex­u­al devian­cy, easy divorce, pub­lic law­less­ness, abor­tion on demand, pornog­ra­phy, and pub­lic nudi­ty were con­sid­ered to be wrong. Var­ry­ing pun­ish­ments for offend­ers were met­ed out by soi­ety. Val­ue judg­ments were basi­cal­ly built on bib­li­cal prin­ci­ples (for exam­ple, the Ten Com­mand­ments). Most peo­ple accept­ed or respect­ed a belief in God.

Let’s be straight here: Just because some­thing is con­sid­ered “wrong” does­n’t mean peo­ple did­n’t do it. “Sex­u­al devian­cy,” for exam­ple, has exist­ed through­out Amer­i­ca’s his­to­ry, right back to its found­ing on “Chris­t­ian absolutes.” The founders them­selves are exem­plars to that effect.

In fact, I’d wager that not hav­ing access to easy divorce is a pre­cur­sor to sex­u­al devian­cy because, like it or not, human­i­ty is not a nat­u­ral­ly monog­a­mous species. Soci­etal pres­sure to main­tain monogamy results in secret affairs, pres­i­den­tial scan­dals, and so on. It hap­pens in plen­ty of mar­riages that the love will be lost or that cir­cum­stances will change to make the mar­riage no longer ben­e­fi­cial to both par­ties. It should be that folks should be able to freely exit a rela­tion­ship which they freely entered into.

I agree that pub­lic law­less­ness is an issue, but crime has been a prob­lem for mil­len­nia, in every nation which forms laws which can be broken.

“Abor­tion on demand” has been avail­able for mil­len­nia, and abor­tion in gen­er­al for even longer, induced abor­tion hav­ing been around since at least the 16th cen­tu­ry BCE. Chris­t­ian the­olo­gian Ter­tul­lion even ascribes to the father of med­i­cine, Hip­pocrates, the own­er­ship of tools used for abortions.

What has changed is that abor­tion is no longer a clan­des­tine activ­i­ty under­tak­en in unsafe back alleys using ques­tion­able tech­niques. Women seek­ing an abor­tion are now able to get one safe­ly, in hygien­ic environments.

Pornog­ra­phy and pub­lic nudi­ty have been around for as long as human­i­ty has been in some form or anoth­er. A trip to any art or his­to­ry muse­um will reveal that much. As tech­nol­o­gy march­es on, though, the pro­duc­tion, dis­tri­b­u­tion, and con­sump­tion of pornog­ra­phy has increased, not because human­i­ty has new lusts that need sat­is­fied but because it’s ever eas­i­er to sat­is­fy the urges which we have always had. Pub­lic nudi­ty, on the oth­er hand, is more a back­lash against pornog­ra­phy and oth­er forms of exploita­tion than any­thing else; it’s a form of de-objec­ti­fi­ca­tion, a way of say­ing that a woman can go top­less with dig­ni­ty just as a man can. The human body isn’t scan­dalous! Nor­mal­ize its nat­ur­al, nude beau­ty and you take dull the teeth of pornography.

Mov­ing on, yes, the Ten Com­mand­ments and oth­er reli­gious teach­ings were influ­en­tial in how soci­ety has been run, but they are not them­selves law in our soci­ety. This influ­ence is part of the respect folks had for reli­gion and the reli­gious, as mentioned.

What has changed is that an increas­ing num­ber of peo­ple through the years have stopped default­ing to a posi­tion of respect for reli­gion; rather, they’ve tak­en the free thought approach to ques­tion­ing what, if any­thing, reli­gion has done to earn the respect so many give to it.

And we must always ques­tion. Every­thing. And we must do so with care­ful scruti­ny any sys­tem which demands our feal­ty or which defines our behav­ior toward others.

The Bible and Chris­tian­i­ty aren’t under attack, at least not direct­ly. Rather, we are increas­ing­ly real­iz­ing, at least on mat­ters of prac­ti­cal­i­ty, that the Bible’s code(s) of con­duct aren’t nec­es­sar­i­ly applic­a­ble in today’s soci­ety. We’re dis­cov­er­ing a world full of glob­al con­nec­tions, diverse cul­tures, and infi­nite pos­si­bil­i­ties, and we’re doing all of it in ways which either rede­fine what the Bible says away from its lit­er­al mean­ings or remove us from the Bible altogether.

Fea­tured image: source | license

2 thoughts on “Christianity Is under Attack‽”

  1. Nicholas Brantley

    If your say­ings are true, why not live like ani­mals, there would be no law, why respect, why live, why not do drugs, defile your body, why not just take what you want, you say you don’t believe, but you fol­low the law. If you remem­bered the law was made for sin­ners. 1st Tim­o­thy 1:9, Know­ing this, that the law is not made for a right­eous man, but for the law­less and dis­obe­di­ent, for the ungod­ly and for sin­ners, for unholy and pro­fane, for mur­der­ers of fathers and mur­der­ers of moth­ers, for manslay­ers. To say that you fol­low the law is to say you fol­low reli­gion, there­fore proof you are fool accord­ing to God’s word, the fool has said there is no God, since you don’t believe in the law. I pray that you may fol­low Jesus Christ our Lord and Sav­ior, the Great I Am, the Door, the Light, the Truth, the Mes­si­ah, the Bread of Life.

    1. If God is not real, why do we not just live like animals?

      Well, we do live like ani­mals; human ani­mals. And typ­i­cal­ly, humans desire a cer­tain lev­el of func­tion­ing soci­ety, which our laws and val­ues facil­i­tate. If you need a God to tell you that you need to not kill or do drugs or what­ev­er, then that says more about you than it does me. With­out God, I’m free to mur­der, rape, defile, and pil­lage exact­ly as much as I want to, which is “none”; should I choose to actu­al­ly do so, then I deal with the fall­out with­in my soci­ety — impris­on­ment, for example.

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Rick Beckman