Friday, November 27, 2015

Christian duty and social causes
While trying to push back the fascist form of Islam in Malaysia which impinges onto citizenry liberty of this constitutionally secular country, I am seeing Christians in Singapore trying to advocate a form of Christianity-inspired social-values onto the republic's secular space.

In my observation, the three inter-linked causes of these two phenomena are:
1) the fear of moral deterioration (whether real or imagined) of our late modern era, and
2) the compulsion to protect our own and our community's identity and values, which often lead to
3) the inability to deal with plurality found in society.
For religious people, this means the drawing of social moral boundaries; be it legislating laws or lobbying for informal rules that proscribe what should and should not be allowed in the country. 

To the Muslims, it is differentiating between "haram" and "halal". To the Christians, it is between "principalities and powers of the world" and "gospel principles/values".

In other words, the three inter-linked causes have given rise to a dualistic view of the society, where almost anything can be distinguished either "for" or "against" one's religious values.

When a pamphlet that states "A percentage of every Starbucks purchase is donated to support same-sex marriage" is going around social media, some decided to boycott Starbucks. When it was announced that Adam Lambert is going to perform at Singapore's year-end countdown, 11,000 signed a petition to have him removed from the event.

I don't know how many of these advocates are Christians, but I know of fellow Christians who have participated in them, believing that they are simply carrying out their Christian duty as responsible citizens.

I wonder if they also boycott Google (with all its subsidiaries such as Gmail, YouTube, Blogger, Google Calendar, etc), Apple, Facebook, and Microsoft because they support same-sex marriage? How about Amazon (which owns BookDepository), Procter & Gamble (with all its household products), Nike, and Kraft that owns the famous Oreo

(Any Christian who uses iPhone and wants to be consistent in boycotting Apple, please consider donating your phone, iPod, or iPad to me instead of throwing them away.)

Hardly we find Christians who can be consistent in this regard. They have to pick and choose which product, celebrity, corporation, or organization to boycott. This means that Christians have to pick and choose which values to be deem worthy enough to activate their Christian citizenry responsibility to boycott or sign a petition against. 

In Starbucks' and Lambert's case, the values some Christians choose to uphold are those related to sexuality and/or public decency. But why not they choose to exercise their Christian responsibility over against idolatry, greed, drunkenness, etc?
"Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God." (1 Corinthians 6:9-10, ESV)
If those who advocate against Starbucks and Lambert are to be consistent, then they should also exercise their supposed Christian duty to petition against all other religions' idolatrous practices, against all big companies that are driven by greed, and against all bars, clubs, and convenient stores that sell alcoholic beverages.

I suspect no Christians in Singapore would want to be consistent in this regard. We all pick and choose. And the question worth asking is then, why do we choose certain values and not others? Is it because we have been conditioned by certain authority or social forces? If so, how do we rise above them?

There is no quick-fix to this three inter-linked causes. Therefore, Christians should not be too quick to adopt certain social causes as their Christian duty. This form of civic hesitation is perhaps paradoxically the kind of Christian responsibility that today's believers need to discover.


Papkenasai said...

"We all pick and choose. And the question worth asking is then, why do we choose certain values and not others? Is it because we have been conditioned by certain authority or social forces?"

Well said, Sze Zeng.

In fact, I remember those days when rock music, Dungeon and dragon, Teletubbies and Harry Porter were classified by a lot of Christian as demonic tool used by devil to entice the young. Looking back, one wonder why believes in such craps. Just because a Christian preacher said so.

Of course as mentioned by you, they have started to target corporate entities as part of the propaganda. One of my Christian peer even mentioned Procter & Gamble is supporting Satanic work.

Sometime, I just laugh at these urban myths created by a bunch of brainless religious fanatic. Their belief was based on authoritarian figure ("anointed" church leader) and social pressures.

If only Christian know how to differentiate the truth and stand up for the right cause. I believe they bring about a positive changes to the society.

Take for example, Kong Hee and his crony legal case. Thus far, very few preachers speak out against him except for Dr Paul Choo,Life Bible-Presbyterian Church. Most churches were silent about it. People are praying for the truth and justice to be done instead standing with him. Because he is a preacher of a mega church and a key figure in Festival of Praise. If St Paul is alive, will he endorse his behaviour? As a Christian Leader, he is leading the people astray and kept non Christian from the church.

I wonder how many Christian dare to speak out against this false prophet. Who has brought shame to the Christian community?

reasonable said...

well said

*clap* *clap* *clap*

s y Tan said...

In response to papkenasai, actually many Christians have publicly gone on record against Kong Hee for what he did to drag down the name of Jesus. It is just that you may not have personally known it or read of it.

Just a week or so back, Straits Times reported that two pastors (one from Cornerstone Church and the other a pastor at St Andrews' Secondary School) spoke out against Kong saying how much he had hurt God's name and other Christians and his wrong teachings about the prosperity gospel.

Many Christian bloggers and facebook accounts have these many years also called Kong to account. But Kong throughout has claimed his innocence. He is what Christians call "the false prophet" and one who does not do what he preaches. He asked his church members to give until it hurts (I saw this on youtube) while he himself was amassing his wealth at the expense of his members.

He might have started right as a Christian but unfortunately along the way greed for fame and money and his blinded love for his wife led him down the wrong path.

Hopefully he will come to his senses one day and go back to the people / his church to admit his wrongdoings and ask them forgiveness. Until then, he is merely serving himself and his wife who plays a huge part in pulling him down the mud.