While America was undoubtedly founded upon a bedrock of religious freedom it is equally true that the Christian faith has been probably the greatest contributor the social fabric of this country. Even as the country seems to drift away from Christian values, there are still far more people in Church on Sunday than at the football stadium. Despite the fact that gay marriage and out of wedlock births have become more prevalent, the overwhelming majority of Americans continue to celebrate the Christian holidays. In fact the reason why many homosexuals seem to have fought for the right to marry is not because they merely want the same social benefits and legal rights as heterosexual married couples, but they also crave the spiritual and community benefits bestowed upon marriage by the Christian faith.
The debate over whether one can be both a practicing homosexual and a devout Christian has been waged from the pulpits and in the media very intensely over the years. Many Christian see such practices as homosexuality, abortion and sex outside of marriage as sinful and something that Christian values militate against. Many homosexuals in the Church feel that God loves sinners, for who is without sin at all? At the end of the day Christian values still matter because even those among us who are not Christian rely upon the Christian values among the rest of us. They rely upon Christian kindness, patience, charity and chastity – for it is those values that create spaces, whether in soup kitchens, homes for the sick and elderly, or safe places of refuge for everyone.
In fact Christian values act as a sort of spiritual inoculation for the country. Like Vaccines, values prevent the spread of harm, both physically and spiritually. The value which upholds the sanctity of life protects against murder, mayhem, and physical abuse of people at the hands of their neighbors. The value which upholds the sanctity of marriage preserves families and affords children the opportunity to grow up in a loving, stable, environment surrounded by parents who are committed by faith to work towards a higher spiritual union. The sanctity of marriage helps preserve bloodlines and reduces the confusion and hurt that arises when parentage becomes uncertain. The value which says one must not covet ones neighbor’s belongings, inoculates society against the ravages of jealousy, theft and enmity.
Once a sizeable number of people in a society receive inoculation against a disease – say measles or polio, it reduces the overall number of people in the society who are exposed to the germs, and so even those who don’t get the vaccine benefit. It is the same with Christian values. Because so many Americans have grown up with Christian values – even those who no longer actively practice the religion – I benefits those who do not practice those values. And so people who do covet, who do steal, who do kill, nonetheless live in a society in which their actions are not immediately met with unbridle recrimination and endless bloodlust. For the most part, they too are treated justly and humanely even when they are caught and punished.
We have grown so comfortable as a society with the benefits of Christian values that we don’t really know any other alternative. We have not lived in a society in which the strongest rule by might. We have not experienced a society in which someone in power can take another person’s wife or daughter and have his way with her. We are in a sense inoculated against social harms – not just by the letter and power of the law – but because for the most part our neighbors are good and decent Christians.
But these days there are a growing number of people who are opting out of getting basic vaccines for their children – the anti-vaxxers as they are known. They may look around and say ‘hey – no one I know has ever caught tetanus or polio. Why should I even bother with getting my child vaccinated?’ And then from there, egged on by their friends, they make all kinds of specious arguments about whether vaccines needlessly overload the immune system of children and make them susceptible to other conditions like autism. Despite the fact that the science is clear – vaccines have clearly eradicated many diseases which used to kill millions of Americans each year, and there is absolutely no known scientific correlation between increase in vaccine usage and the increase in autism – some people buy into this nonsense and refuse to vaccinate their children.
It is the same with Christian values. People who wake up in the morning and say, ‘Well, I’m a nice person who obeys the law and pays my taxes, why should I care about those Christian values?’ The fact of the matter is that those values were implemented long ago in a society in ancient Egypt which it was commonplace for people to steal and deceive and do violence against one another. The problem was especially prevalent among the more politically powerful, those who thought they were immune to legal justice. But then the society just got so corrupt that God ultimately destroyed it – or rather it destroyed itself because of inbreeding and corruption.
Even as the Christian religion comes under attack in the secular media and as Christians in many cases are ridiculed as backwards or ignorant, it is Christian values that form the thread that holds the social fabric together. And even those who would deny its truth cannot help but benefit from its protections.