"It must be understood that a respect for human rights, like pluralism, is a process that develops naturally within a democracy. Bear in mind that for approximately two hundred of America's two hundred fifty years of existence, black American citizens were considered legally inferior to whites. Finally, neither human rights nor pluralism is the result of secularization, they are its root cause."
AND a question.
Any guesses why this bothers me so much?
Amber was the only one interested or brave enough
A Muslim friend has asked before if I wanted a Christian nation for only (mostly) Christians to which I likely surprised him by saying no. I think I've shared my reasons for this before. Whose interpretation of Christianity will we follow? Terry Jones' Christianity is quite different from Mother Teresa's. While one was in the spotlight for his selfish stupidity, the other was known for serving and loving "the least of these" as Jesus did while he walked the earth.
Jesus never promoted Christendom. He never urged his followers to oppose the oppressors even though he lived during the Roman occupation of Palestine. As far as we know, he never preached a rise-up-and-drive-these-oppressors-into-the-sea message. Jesus knew society changed from within. And he came with a message bent on changing hearts and lives and thus changing society for the better!
Besides how can we shine the light of Jesus to a dark world if we are all holed up in our Christian Caliphate with our borders sealed to all the unbelievers?
You see the ridiculousness of this notion, I hope.
This is what Amber correctly chose as the offending phrase:
"Finally, neither human rights nor pluralism is the result of secularization, they are its root cause."
First let me point out that Reza Aslan makes a point of explaining the difference in a secular country and a secularizing country. Turkey, he said, was a secular country. The United States, on the other hand, despite what is taught in children's history books these days (his words, not mine though I agree) has its moral foundation in Judeo-Christian principles. However, we have become increasingly more secularizing from those principles as time passes. I took that to mean we've been leaving the Judeo-Christian framework behind for a more pluralistic one. Maybe I totally didn't explain that well, but hopefully you get the gist of what Aslan meant.
So the problem I had with this statement is that it is so incredibly sad to me that leaving biblical values in the dust is seen as improving society. Why is it only through secularizing our nation that black people became full citizens with equal rights to their white counterparts instead of property of their masters? Why is it only through secularizing that women won the right to vote and were freed from that antiquated notion that they were only good for staying home to keep house and have lots of babies? What is wrong with the Bible that it kept us mistreating people for so long?
Now, I hardly will admit that secularizing the nation has made things truly better. (Unless one would argue that the US will improve more as we continue secularizing...I think not.) Yes, black people and women have more rights than they did a hundred years ago, but I will never admit that my country is better now than it was before. Rampant promiscuity (and no shame in it!), over 70% of black children are born without married parents, drug and alcohol abuse, rape, murder, gangs, split households due to divorce and affairs and pornography and killing our unborn children even when they are partially born. Do you know people used to not even lock their doors in some areas of the country because crime was so low? I hardly think society today is a wonderful improvement that our walking away from God has bequeathed us.
You know what I think?
I think we do have some rights now that we didn't have before. And on behalf of all the women in the world who have struggled and are continuing to struggle so they can stop being treated like the property of the men in their lives, I AM VERY GRATEFUL! And I am thankful that no longer do we own people in the wicked way some Southern Americans did years ago. Thank God we have progressed past that!
However I'm not convinced entirely that it was the Bible's or our Judeo-Christian values' fault for this. I think it is the fault of men and women who - in their own selfish, fallible ways - read what they wanted into the Bible. Instead of seeing loving your neighbor as yourself, the greatest among you is the servant of all and love your wife as Christ loved the church (hellllooooo, He DIED for the Church!), they read "Servants, obey your masters" and "women, submit to your husbands." Same old stuff Aslan complained that the Ulama of Islam was doing to his religion!
People will justify their selfishness and make it more palatable by appealing to their interpretations, their cherrypicking of verses instead of reading the Bible as a whole and trying to understand what God desires.
Really, how hard it is to understand "the greatest among you serves others" and "deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me" from Jesus? But how HARD is it to deny ourselves and take up crosses and truly follow Christ? Much easier to apply those verses which justify your sinfulness against others, isn't it?
So what all this teaches me: whether we are supposedly living under the moral framework of Judeo-Christian values or the secularizing process of a nation quickly saying "no thanks" to God in favor of the rationalization of man, society has major problems. It might be the racism, oppression and sexism of the former or the immorality, broken families and addictions of the latter. Both show me one thing:
All have sinned and fallen short of God's glorious standard. (Rom. 3:23)
There is none that does good. Not even one. (Rom. 3:10)
So past, present and future, the story of America demonstrates a great need which can only be solved when we realize our need for God! Not a return to men using God's word to oppress others. But truly letting God change our hearts and lives so that, in turn, society will be changed for the better. I believe our country -- full of division, anger, scandals (and that's just talking politics) is proof to the world that we cannot save ourselves.
Our military can't save us. Our politicians can't save us. Our churches can't save us. Our rational minds and secularizing process can't save us.
11 I, even I, am the LORD, and apart from me there is no savior. (Isaiah 43)
I think God summed it up pretty well.