“Where are we now in the west? As our liberalism loses touch with its Christian roots it is becoming even more confused, intolerant, and incapable of delivering a good political culture.” This is a quote from Greg Sheridan, the Foreign Editor for The Australian. He recited the words of George Orwell “One cannot have any worthwhile picture of the future unless one realises how much we have lost by the decay of Christianity.” Words from the book “Nineteen Eighty Four” published in 1949. Poignant words for a deafened and blinded Western society of which the New England and rural New South Wales is part.
Conversations are many concerning the parlous state of politics in our country and societal confusions. And while Christianity is said to be in decline a question should be asked if there is any correlation. Historically Christianity in the West offered clarity not confusion while discouraging intolerance by open debate, freedom of speech and an awareness of the dignity of the individual given by God who made us in His image. Male and female He made us in His image, equal in worth but not the same - complementary. Physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually complementary.
Sexual? Yes! But never so reductionist as to define a person only in terms of their sexuality.
Defined by relationship? Yes! But the order of relationship is God first and then our neighbour.
The beauty of putting God first is that a loving, perfect, moral authority speaks into every other relationship we have, governing how we live toward each other, and guiding us in matters such as family and human sexuality. But herein lies the problem. In the world of iPads, iPods, iMacs, a rebellion in the “iSelf” world exists in us from birth when it comes to an authority other than ourselves. The spread of such rebellion varies from the hypocrite in church to the hypocrite who refuses to go to church, right through to the anarchist. The anarchist being a person who rebels against any authority, established order, or ruling power. That is what makes an anarchist so dangerous. They will submit to nothing and no one, including God. Of course, some hypocrites may not admit to being anarchists but their lifestyle can evidence it.
I have often heard the statement, “You don’t have to go to church to be a Christian”. That in itself indicates how little a person knows about the teaching of Jesus Christ and the value of Christian learning and living in community. The statement does not reveal the heart of a Christian but the heart of the “iSelf” anarchist. Declining moral standards, rising narcissism, elitism, and a general confusion about human sexuality, marriage and so much more makes clear that a churchless Christianity has done nothing to make us more Christian. Rather, with distance comes ignorance and with ignorance you don’t believe nothing, you begin to believe anything. Worse still, “iSelf” fashions shape your thinking and responses rather than understanding the mind of God on the issue. Worse again, is that the “iSelf” creates a designer God in our own image the result of which is an observable human bankruptcy in everything from politics to the bedroom.
The hope, as always, is repentance. Surrendering the anarchic “iSelf” to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ may be difficult and require significant courage and humility but He promises forgiveness and life-changing assistance.
Lack of surrender by Australians will not of course change God but it will for eternity ruin relationship with God while corrupting the present with confusion and selfishness.
Bishop Rick Lewers
Armidale Anglican Diocese