On another Christian forum, in a discussion about the lack of morals in the modern world (“morals” in this case being explicitly referred to as “Christian values”), I observed “At one point the Christian message swept the Mediterranean world, then on into Europe, North Africa, and Asia Minor. Now it's being weighed and found wanting by contemporary societies. Why is that? Has contemporary society changed all that much from the ancient & medieval worlds? Or have we as stewards of the Word gone adrift, and what we present to the world is not what Christ taught?”
The response I got -- and from someone who considered this to be a good thing -- was: “What was no doubt keeping the reprobate in check before was militant social ostracism and good old fashioned Puritan derision.”
In other words, judgmentalism & tyranny.
I don't find Christ talking about that too often.
Well, actually, he does talk about them quite a bit.
But he has nothing good to say about either.
Look, ancient Rome had a plethora of various religions to choose from. Christianity caught on because it offered something that other religions didn't: A world view free of fear and hate and selfishness. "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." -- John 13:35 KJV.
Don't see much room for militant social ostracism and good old fashioned Puritan derision in there, do you?
Let's look at a perfect social laboratory to test out two competing worldviews: “Militant social ostracism & good old fashioned Puritan derision” vs. unconditional acceptance.
Drunkenness has been a problem for at least as long as humans have been keeping records, probably a whole lot longer. In the 19th century a group of Christian women formed an organization called the Women's Christian Temperance Union with the wholly logical & admirable goal of curbing the destructive influence of alcohol in this country. They launched a three pronged attack: Persuade people to stop drinking (abstinence pledges), persuade governments to outlaw the sale & consumption of alcohol (prohibition), and the hands on destruction of businesses that made or sold alcohol (terrorism).
In the 1920s they finally succeeded in getting Congress to pass and the prerequisite number of states to ratify the 18th amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Prohibition became the law --
-- and the country promptly went to hell in a handbasket and has never recovered.
One can not dry out drunks by legislative fiat: They want their booze and they will get it. Rum runners soon sprang into business, bribing the very same authorities who had passed the law against alcohol sales to look the other way while they raked in millions.
Of course, with no legal controls on alcohol, the rum runners ended up policing themselves, and the streets of America ran red and even tiny rural towns saw sharp upticks in violence.
America finally wised up and ditched prohibition, but the damage was done and it has been permanent. We are still using prohibition today against drugs -- throwing more people behind bars than any other nation on Earth & allowing investors to make money off of this by running private for-profit prisons. We have rampant political corruption extending not just from the drug trade but seeping into big business, politics, and the judicial system.
And people still drink...
And people still use drugs...
And the wicked make more and more money...
All because a group of sincere, well-intentioned Christians gave them the keys to the kingdom.
There's another group with Christian roots that took an entirely different approach to alcohol abuse.
They sought no laws.
They smashed no saloons.
They demanded nothing of anyone.
They offered -- free and unencumbered, open and available to all who asked -- the only thing they could offer: Camaraderie in the face of the daily struggle against alcoholism.
They didn't look for fame or power or money: They shun it to this day.
They just open their doors and welcome anyone who will come.
They don’t judge others for who they are, where they came from, or what they did.
All they do is try to help them get through one more day without drinking.
Their organization is based on the teachings of Christ.
But they never mention him by name.
They don't require anyone to believe in anyone or anything other than some "higher power" that is stronger than they are, and that can help them get through the day without resorting to alcohol.
They judge not.
And they save lives.
They're Alcoholics Anonymous and they are the single most effective group in combating drunkenness that the planet has ever seen.
And they do it one day at a time.
One drunk at a time.