Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Giving It Away

A co-worker was telling me his theory as to why God has blessed the United States. I should mention that my co-worker doesn’t have a Christian world view and is an Indian immigrant. Referring to the invention of the world, he said that the difference between the United States and other countries is that when other countries invent something they keep it, but he United States shares their inventions with the world. He mentioned, electricity, saying that its use was developed in the United States, but the whole world has benefited. He mentioned the computer and how one man discovered that one and zero are sufficient values for all the computing power we have, but the whole world has benefited from that discovery. He spoke of food, how the United States shares food with those in need in the rest of the world. My co-worker believes in Karma and came to that conclusion from that perspective.

I think there is some truth in what my co-worker says, but coming from a Baptist background, I have a slightly different view. I believe that the reason God has blessed the United States is because the United States has sent missionaries throughout the world. The other stuff is a byproduct of that mentality. With the adoption of the Bill of Rights, the United States has had freedom of speech and freedom of religion. Baptists have historically supported freedom of speech and the separation of church and state because these freedoms have allowed us to preach the gospel as God has commanded us to, but these liberties have also opened the door to allow the discoveries we have made to make their way out to the rest of the world. Look at all of the work NASA does and then makes it available to anyone with Internet access. We realize that is a result of the First Amendment, but without Christians continually pushing for the preservation of the right to speak and practice our religion there would be stronger restrictions placed on the information that is made available to the world. If that happened, the United States and the whole world would suffer.

As writers, that freedom is very important to us. It scares me when I look at a post-Christian nation like the United Kingdom and see how homosexual police officers can arrest a preacher who has committed the heinous crime of telling someone what the Bible says about homosexuality. But that is one of the reasons Baptists have historically supported the separation of church and state. When the police (the government) become involved in telling churches what they can and cannot teach, we end up with people going to jail when what they are doing is harming no one.

This is a much bigger issue than the issue of homosexuality. Practically anything could be considered speech that will cause distress. When that becomes the criteria by which the government determines whether speech is permissible or not it is the people who have the most power who become the thought police. Even if people aren’t arrested for what they say, they may begin to give undue consideration to what they say and to whom they say it so they won’t be arrested. When this happens we all suffer.