…funny how most (not all!) American Christians are happy to ‘get political’ when it comes to abortion and gay marriage (‘Oh yes, let’s fight for godly legislation!’), but scream ‘socialism’ when it comes to issues like benefits for poor, out of work, or infirm people – or (shock, horror) free health care…
Doom to you who legislate evil, who make laws that make victims—
Laws that make misery for the poor,
that rob my destitute people of dignity,
exploiting defenseless widows,
taking advantage of homeless children.
What will you have to say on Judgment Day,
when Doomsday arrives out of the blue?
Who will you get to help you?
What good will your money do you?
Isaiah 10:1-3 (The Message)
Admittedly a bit dated, but a 1998 paper by the Joint Methodist-Presbyterian Public Questions Committee suggested that for those “whose emotional or physical make-up means that it is unlikely they would ever be able to enter a mutually acceptable and honest physical relationship with another person’, prostitutes should be provided, and that “to deny such people any opportunity to express their sexuality physically seems almost inhuman.”
I’m particularly interested in the last bit. It’s not hard to see that the statement locates physical sexual expression at or near the core of what it means to be human. In the sexualised West, it’s perhaps not surprising to see such an assumption. Transpose this specific statement (“It’s [almost] inhuman to deny people the opportunity to express their sexuality physically.”), into general key: “It’s [almost] inhuman to deny people the opportunity to express any/all forms and expressions of all desires & identities.”
The notion is reflected commonly in popular discourse. Humans wreck the planet and the earth, the universe, or nature ‘fights back’. Noah’s flood, local or global is nothing compared to what our angry step-mother-nature will do if we don’t change our ways and look after the planet better… Makes an entertaining novel, movie, etc.
Because in our culture, we are quite OK with the idea of nature (which has no personality, intentions or consciousness!) being the judge of humanity; but as for God (who is personal, intentional and omniscient), that is simply not acceptable…
Never a more sterling case of a bull-full, left-over cultural slogan – nature hath not even a single hint of an intention.
I just saw an ad for ‘the Warehouse’, which used the by-line: “Get more Christmas for less.”
This reminded me of the observation (or should I say gross-but-still-relatively-accurate-generalisation?) I’ve made about the USA since moving to New Zealand. We (yes, I said ‘we’) looooooooooove to get a lot of stuff for not very much money. Examples – ‘all you can eat’ Buffets for like $7.99. Sam’s Club & Walmart (stop what you’re doing and watch ‘Walmart: The High Cost of Low Price’ right now).
There’s a name for this kind of desire – it’s called the desire to not pay what something’s worth – or stealing?
TVNZ’s programme ‘Sunday’ included a segment related to concerns over tween (8-12 yrs) fashion, particularly the issue of girls dressing “too sexy too soon” (which was the title).
In addition to this being evidence that modesty is not just the concern of conservative Christians, I was also interested in the introductory comment about the struggle of parents “to keep them children for as long as possible”. I’ve often wondered about the tension between biological adulthood and ‘adulthood’ as defined by mod-western culture.
Perhaps rather than trying to ‘keep them children’, we should be helping them to both ‘be’ and ‘behave’ as adults. Que the ‘archaic’, ‘religious’ – and perhaps more relevant than we dare admit – practice of most ancient cultures, namely rites of passage which welcomed new adults into adult life and responsibilities.