Connecting with Culture
It’s been said that culture is ‘what we make of the world’, but what does that look like as Christians? How can we begin conversations about what’s goin...
Trigger warning: This article makes reference to abortion.
I was captured by a news story this week about a woman named Heidi Carter. Ms Carter, who has Down’s syndrome, is bringing a legal challenge against a UK law that she perceives as ‘deeply offensive’ and ‘discriminatory’. The law permits children with Down’s or other disabilities such as cleft palate or club feet to be aborted anytime up to birth. ‘I will not tolerate it’ she stated. ‘That someone like me or [my husband] James could be aborted just before birth is just not on.’
As I read Ms Carter’s story, I tried to imagine how injurious to one’s sense of self-worth it must be to know that your society’s laws do not protect the life of unborn children who are just like you. And the more I thought about that, the more I found myself marvelling at Ms Carter’s bravery and resilience.
What is it that makes any life – Ms Carter’s, yours, or mine included – valuable?
In the pre-Christian ancient world, people did not assume all people were equally valuable. Slavery and infanticide, for example, were accepted as normal. Even the great moral philosopher Aristotle believed that women and slaves were naturally inferior. The Bible’s teaching that all human beings are valuable because all are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27) and because Christ died for all (2 Corinthians 5:15) was truly revolutionary.
Motivated by these truths, Christians throughout the centuries fought infanticide, abortion on demand, child labour, and slavery; promoted access to education, political freedom, and social justice; and pioneered hospitals, orphanages, and law reform.
Interestingly, the British historian Niall Ferguson tweeted this week about the growing belief among leading intellectual atheists, himself included, that our society’s hard-fought and cherished freedoms cannot long endure unless we return to the Christian faith that nourished those freedoms in the first place. As our society continues to drift away from its Christian moorings, we should be just as concerned as some of our atheist friends are about the direction it is headed. We should also be just as forthright as they are about the uniquely good news and solid foundation that Christian faith offers all who passionately believe, as Heidi Carter and countless others do, that every human being is inestimably valuable and worth protecting.
‘“Truly I tell you”, Jesus said, “whatever you did for one of the least [i.e. most needy and vulnerable] of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”’ (Matthew 25:40)
Simon is a former lawyer and now speaker and writer at the OCCA. His new book The Sanity of Belief is out now.