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Focus of ‘Christian ethics’ too narrow

Post Independent Writer

When I look around at what so many regard as their “moral values,” it seems obvious that they have become fixated on simplistic narrow-focus black-and-white issues, like same-sex “marriage,” stem-cell research and abortion, and are sidestepping the broader Christian teachings against killing and for relieving poverty and suffering.If one holds abortion to be an immoral act because it violates the “sanctity of human life,” how can you justify visiting massive destruction on a country, taking the lives of tens of thousands of innocent civilians (largely women and children), and seriously injuring upwards of 100,000 more, to depose a brutal tinhorn dictator? If it is wrong to take the life of an unborn, how can it be right to wantonly kill and maim so many thousands in what is euphemistically called “collateral damage” – a horribly dehumanizing term for the innocents who, unfortunately for them, happen to get in the way.And if you somehow find moral justification for our going after the brutal dictator of one country, it would follow that we should be equally committed to ridding the world of all such brutally oppressive regimes, of which there are dozens. Does attempting to right any of these wrongs, many of which have been going on for centuries, justify the loss or destruction of thousands of American lives, and the expenditure of $200 billion dollars (and counting), for which there is such a crying need to alleviate problems here at home?How can we who claim to be Christians idly stand by while the government of Sudan condones the genocide of tens of thousands in the Darfur region of that country? And though the administration has upped its aid pledge for the victims of the Indian Ocean tsunami to $350 million (ten times the paltry $35 million it originally offered), can we be truly proud of its compassion when it is spending nearly that amount every day on its war in Iraq?Then what about the broad-scope Christian ethic of compassion for the less fortunate here at home? We should be spending the money we are committing to death and destruction to improving the quality of life for families (and especially for the children) who are dealing with poverty, hunger, and lack of health care.In the wealthiest country in the world, everyone who performs a full-time job should receive a “living wage,” adequate to cover the costs of the basic necessities of decent housing and adequate food, clothing, and health care. Instead the federal minimum wage is $5.15 per hour (less than $900/month), and has been stuck at that level since 1997, despite the fact that the cost of living has increased 17 percent since then. The current minimum wage provides only 70 percent of the purchasing power of the minimum wages in effect prior to 1980. If we are truly a compassionate Christian society, we should be doing a lot better than we are, and should be holding our government accountable for its failure to live up to the Christian ethics we supposedly espouse.Another issue on which we seem to be ignoring the Christian ethic is in our treatment of the environment and the creatures it supports. If you believe that the earth and the creatures that inhabit it are a gift from the Creator, and that we have been granted dominion over these creatures, it should follow that we have also inherited the responsibility for preserving them and the habitats on which their survival depends. If we fail that responsibility, we are in effect desecrating what “God hath wrought.” Most primitive cultures have recognized the truth that their future depends on preserving their environment. Sadly our technology seems to have isolated us from that reality.We should all critically examine the range of Christian ethics and not let those of narrower scope divert our attention from the broader issues which are so critical to the future of our people, our country, and the entire world.Glenwood Springs resident Hal Sundin’s column runs every other Thursday in the Post Independent.Glenwood Springs resident Hal Sundin’s column runs every other Thursday in the Post Independent.


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