Is Christianity a Religion, a Guide for a Better Society, or a Political Indicator?
ProLifeCorner- By Larry Plachno
Is Christianity a religion, a guide for a better society, or an indicator of political affiliation or leaning? The somewhat surprising answer is “all of the above.” In recent decades, researchers have found that the basic rules of Jesus Christ are endorsed and supported by reports and statistics surrounding social problems as a way to improve our society. Now, the researchers and demographers are also finding that Christianity can also be a major indicator of our political directions. This creates an unexpected link between church and state while adding a great deal of credibility to Christ’s teachings of nearly 2,000 years ago.
Christianity as a Guide for a Better Society
Christianity is based on the fact that God sent His Son to earth to suffer and die to atone for our sins. This tells us two things. One is that God is very concerned about good and evil. More sobering is the second obvious conclusion which is that some atonement is required for doing evil.
Jesus Christ gave us two primary laws to live by: love of God and love of neighbor. To some extent this expands on the earlier 10 Commandments where the first three covered our relationship with God and the last seven covered our relationship with other people. But now we were not limited to the 10 Commandments. If we love God then we need to judge our actions and decisions as to whether they are good or evil. If we are followers of Jesus Christ then “good” means what is best for other people and society. Hence, the traditional definition of a Christian is someone who has a high concern for other people.
This need to judge your actions and do what is best for other people and society is not limited to only Christians. The United States of America was founded by a very diverse group that included Christians, Jews, Deists, and Atheists. Yet, they shared the basic Christian beliefs of judging their actions and decisions and putting others first. This is a major reason why our country did well for at least its first 175 years. It was only when moral relativism and selfishness made an appearance that social problems began to harm our society.
From a practical standpoint, it has always been obvious that when faced with an action or decision that could impact others, we have only two choices. We can be unselfish and do what is best for other people and society. Or, we can put ourselves first and do what we want regardless of whom we hurt. For the most part it is fairly easy to determine which side a Christian should stand on.
The surprise came in more recent decades when researchers and demographers began going through decades of reports and computer statistics surrounding social problems. It soon became obvious that most or all of our social problems were caused by people putting themselves first rather than doing what is best for others and working with others. Hence, the basic teachings of Jesus Christ – to judge your actions as good or evil and to do what is best for others – are actually a formula for improving our society. Or, as some people have said, Jesus Christ told us how to make a Heaven on earth.
You may ask the obvious question. Why is it that evaluating your actions and decisions as good or evil as well as working with others and putting other first is so important to our society? The answer is that society works much like a team. One simple definition of society is a group of people working together for common goals. When we work together and do what is best for others, we all come out ahead. However, when we put ourselves first and do what we want, then society suffers. This is why we have social problems.
I am certainly willing to argue these two points with anyone who disagrees with Jesus Christ. If you want to say that there is no good or evil and we do not need to evaluate our actions as good or evil, then we might as well close down our legal system because there is no good and evil. If you take the position that we should not put others first, then we can ignore people who murder, sell drugs to kids or shoot guns in school.
Stop to consider what would happen if we could not agree on which side of the road we want to drive. The result would be mayhem, accidents and little if any progress. This same thing applies to all of our actions and decisions. If we cannot agree, then we cannot move ahead and make progress. Freedom is not free and true freedom does not include the freedom to harm others. True freedom requires everyone to work together for common goals and not their own different brand of good and evil.
While I admit that people are not insects, I am tempted to point out that insect societies such as ants and bees survive and prosper because the insects are smart enough to know what is needed to make their colony or hive work well. You don’t see the ants and bees arguing over what needs to be done. In comparison, we humans have a bad habit of ignoring the teachings of Jesus Christ and not working with others to improve our society.
Good, Evil and Choice
Many if not most people will agree with the basic teachings of Jesus Christ that we need to evaluate our actions and we need to work together to do what is best for society. However, the reality is that those who are more liberal will take a position that good and evil does not apply to them or to people who think like them. However, they feel that good and evil does apply to other people who do not think like them. If good and evil becomes a personal choice then we have two major problems. The first is that good and evil no longer exists if everyone has a different choice. The second is that our society cannot function properly if we cannot agree on good and evil.
The liberal position on choice is basically untenable because many people have different opinions. An excellent example is the question on whether it is OK for someone to kill or enslave groups if he or she considers them less than human? Among other groups being considered less than human we have babies being aborted, Jews and political prisoners killed during World War II, and people of other races being enslaved.
A major problem with the liberal position is that no one bothers to phone them to ask their opinion. Instead, once someone decides which groups are inferior (and whether they can set aside good and evil) they go by their own opinion. So the mess our country is in is caused by people setting aside good and evil wherever they want.
Christianity and Politics
Hence, it is not surprising that the demographers are finding that Christianity is a major factor in politics. In two recent Presidential elections it was possible to tie the outcome of the election with state fertility levels and other factors. States with high fertility levels voted for conservative candidates and conservative issues. They are red states. States with low fertility levels voted for liberal candidates and liberal issues. They are blue states. Based on this, it becomes statistically possible to show differences between conservatives and liberals. Not surprisingly, those differences tend to reflect the teachings of Jesus Christ.
Statistically speaking, conservatives are more likely to have larger families, support traditional marriage, attend church regularly and have lives revolving around others. Liberals are more likely to have smaller families, are less likely to support traditional marriage, are less likely to attend church regularly and more likely to have lives revolving around themselves. Conservatives are more likely to believe in judging actions as good or evil while liberals are more likely to accept moral relativism and opinion.
What the researchers see is that states, cities and individuals (and even some countries) have different degrees of being unselfish and putting others first. Although it may be difficult with individuals, once you get into greater numbers in cities and states, you can come close to predicting fertility rates, church attendance and voting habits. Show me a state with a very low fertility rate and I will show you that this state primarily votes for liberal candidates and liberal issues. Show me a state with a very high church attendance and I will show you that this state primarily votes for conservative candidates and conservative issues. For the most part these differences are based on basic Christian principles that were handed down by Jesus Christ nearly 2,000 years ago.
For decades we have seen people and families moving to be closer to people like themselves. Those with large families have been leaving the cities and moving to suburbia and rural areas. Meanwhile, the single people have been moving to the big cities. Now, we are also seeing trends where conservatives are starting to congregate in some areas and states while liberals are starting to move to other areas and states. Our nation is becoming increasingly polarized and that polarization is substantially based on the basic teachings of Jesus Christ to judge actions as good or evil and to do what is best for others and society.
Heaven and Hell
There are people pointing out that what is going on in our society is increasingly looking like we are being tested by God to see if we can work with others and put others first. We increasingly hear that God does not condemn us to Hell, we do it ourselves. Heaven is reserved for those who are unselfish, put others first and work with others. Hell is reserved for those who are selfish, love themselves over their neighbors, and build their life around themselves. It is time for all of us to decide which way we want to go. We don’t get a second chance.
Editors Note: Larry Plachno is a successful businessman, publisher, author, and composer of an incalculable number of articles relating to family, life issues and associated problems and solutions. This barely scratches the surface of what Larry really is. His love of God, family and country is inspiring.
For years now Larry has shared his writings with us here at the ProLifeCorner and we are truly humbled by his generosity.
Larry is also an ardent blogger and is a prolific writer. You can follow his work at: www.unselfish.org