Black lives and dangerous ideologies
It is vital for Christians to understand dangerous mindsets if we are to engage in credible mission and discipleship, writes Mark Roques
We have heard a lot recently about the value of black lives and the #MeToo movement. It is well worth pondering the threats to all our lives. I am not referring to nasty viruses and environmental disasters but nasty philosophies and ideologies that rob some people of their dignity and worth.
At ThinkingFaithNetwork we believe it is vital for Christians to understand these dangerous mindsets if we are to engage in credible mission and discipleship.
Imagine you are a slave living in ancient Athens. Aristotle (385-323 BC) would inform you that you are worthless because you are thick. Only people with sharp minds count. Brilliant philosophers are fabulous. Slaves are just living, wretched tools.
Picture it. You are a black slave on a filthy, stinking ship in 1788. Slave traders would notify you that you are worthless because you are the wrong race. You must do backbreaking work on plantations for zero pay.
You are an aristocrat living during the French Revolution. Jacobins would proclaim that you are worthless because you are an enemy of the people. Thousands of innocent people were beheaded for saying nice things about the French royal family.
It is 1923 and you are a peasant who owns a farm in the Soviet Union. Lenin, the dictator, would accuse you and many others, including religious people, of being a ‘former’ person. This means that the state can cheerfully murder you and other ‘class enemies’ in a labour camp.
Imagine you are a Jewish person living in Nazi Germany. Gestapo officers would explain to you that you are a ‘useless eater’ and a ‘sub-human’. You must go to a concentration camp as part of the ‘Final Solution’.
Tragically you are a brainy, bespectacled boffin in Cambodia during the time of Pol Pot (1975-79). You would be advised that your life has no value at all. You are an enemy of the agrarian revolution. Tomorrow you will be shot. This mindset reverses Aristotle by extolling ignorance.
During the 20th century it is estimated that about 100 million people were murdered in Communist and Nazi regimes. All these deceased people were deemed worthless and of no value.
We are still struggling today with these powerful and destructive ideologies.
Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) has many disciples today. He proclaimed that only physical stuff is real. For Hobbes humans are just selfish, calculating machines who have no free will. You are worth only what the market will pay for you. Weak, vulnerable people are just commodities. Items you can buy in a shop. This materialist ideology nurtures human trafficking and the exploitation of vulnerable people who slave in miserable factories and sweat shops all over the world.
Richard Dawkins is a well-known materialist like Hobbes. He is convinced that rapists and murderers are ‘just machines’ with defective components. What value and dignity do machines have? Almost none.
Can you imagine a victim of human trafficking crying out to her callous abusers? “Don’t worry about worthless little old me. I’m just your commodity. Just an insignificant machine. I will be your slave.”
Elaine Storkey, the well-known broadcaster and theologian, has written a brilliant book Scars Across Humanity that investigates and exposes the different forms of violence experienced by women across the globe. From female infanticide and enforced under-age marriage to domestic abuse, prostitution, rape and honour killings, violence against women occurs at all stages of life, and in all cultures and societies.
Several years ago the Daily Telegraph published an article ‘Killing babies no different from abortion experts say’. Secular philosophers like Peter Singer and Julian Savelescu argue that babies have no value because they lack the ability to reason. Singer has even said that babies up to a month old can be killed. This is Aristotle in the contemporary world. This idolatry of reason leads to the belief that dementing old people have no value. There is danger for you if you have dementia.
What about cacophobia? Those who hate and fear ‘ugly’ people? London police have investigated reports of abusive cards saying ‘You are a fat, ugly human’ being handed out to women on Underground trains. This creates misery for many and there are stories of young girls who commit suicide because they believe that they are unattractive. Is this one of the curses of living in a secular, consumerist society?
Why don’t we explain to young people that communism, capitalism and cacophobia can be dangerous, destructive faiths?
It is time to revisit biblical teaching about just how loved and cherished we all are by God. Every human being is made in the image and likeness of a good God who has entered this world in the person of Jesus Christ. He came to set the captives free from nasty and dangerous ideologies. How wonderful that our worth is not dependent upon race, gender, class, intelligence, wealth or beauty. We have incredible value because God loves all of us so very much (John 3:16).
This really is good news!
Mark Roques is the Director of RealityBites, part of the ThinkingFaithNetwork based in Leeds. He preaches in Cragg Hill Baptist Church in Horsforth, Leeds.
Image | Conor Luddy | Unsplash
Mark is currently writing a course on human trafficking and evangelism. Contact him on firstname.lastname@example.org to be made aware when the course is ready.
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