It is not news that we live in troubled times. Nor is it news that our headlines are constantly bombarded with reports of “hate” crimes and “terrorism.” Indeed our news is full of terrorist acts—either in their planning or in the events themselves. It is also full of “hate” stories involving ethnic differences, religious intolerance, and sexual orientation.

But what seems extraordinary to me, is that when a story is reported, it invariably includes a lot of head shaking, and denial. Indeed people are constantly seen scratching their heads trying to understand why.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t wish to uphold what is happening in our world in any way. But if there are to be solutions, then we need to identify what the problems are. And simply shaking our heads, pretending not to understand, is not going to help solve the issues at all.

And yet, for the most part, the answer seems very clear. Some are symptoms of greed, envy, or frustration. Whilst others are simply a clash of cultures, which some people are willing to exploit.

From a Christian point of view, they are also an indication that we are all sinners. And that we are not only out of touch with God, but that we are out of touch with the principles he provided for living. Indeed despite calls for “tolerance” and “understanding,” we are faced with dilemmas, for which there can be no man-made resolution.

For example, Christian values require a society based around God and the community. And yet in the west we live in a culture that has shifted some distance away from those values. Our modern experience is in living in a more godless and individualistic society—a society based around “what’s in it for me” and “I can do what I like.” And this contrasts considerably with the biblical values which revolve around what is needed for a community to be heathy and thriving.

As a consequence there is a clash of values between people of faith, and those who have little time for God. And the Christian church is not alone in this dilemma. Indeed Judaism and Islam share many of the same tensions.

But it’s not that Christian’s don’t care. Indeed they do. But given the choice between following God’s way and following man’s ways, there is no room for compromise. Because tolerance—accepting other people’s values—is one thing that God warned his people to avoid. And why? Because it would harm the believer’s relationship with their Creator.

Calls for “tolerance” from the secular world, then, can be seen as an attack on religious values. And pride marches, and “in your face” attitudes and responses do not help either. Indeed all they do is to aggravate the existing divisions.

With diametrically opposed beliefs, then, there can be no win-win scenario. Furthermore, pointing the finger of blame at a single perpetrator often misses the point. Extremists may wish to exploit differences for their own purposes, but so-called “hate” crimes and “terrorism” are often a symptom of a much bigger problem. And shaking one’s head in ignorance or denial will do nothing to help the situation.

We shouldn’t be surprised, then, when tensions between faith and western culture blow up. But it isn’t necessarily as simple as “hatred” or “terrorism.” Indeed it may well be a sign of the jealous love of the faithful in trying to uphold God’s standards—even if at times it comes out in a very inappropriate way.

Posted: 21st June 2016
© 2016, Brian A Curtis