What exactly are Christian values?

This blog was, in part, inspired by a debate that occurred in the comments of a post I read. I admit that I did little more than skim the post, considering it was about the same man who made me want to move to Canada, but I also skimmed through the comments. I found myself more interested in the discussions there.

It’s not the first time I’ve heard something along the lines of “bring this country back to good old-fashioned Christian values.” I have also always wondered how that fairs for the 24% of our population (as of 2008) that is not Christian.

Growing up, Christian values meant something very simplistic to me. They meant, “Love thy neighbor,” “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone,” and “God loves you.” And a few other snippets I recall from my bible stories book and The Flying House.

Later on, I heard phrases such as, “fear of God.” I never understood that. I never went to church, but I thought I was supposed to love God, not fear Him. I feared my father when he was drinking. I strived to be the “perfect daughter” because of that fear. With my mom, I talked back, I acted out . . . quite simply, I was a little bitch sometimes. Now, I loved both of my parents, but I felt loved by my mom (this is not to say that my father didn’t love me – he did in his own way – but I didn’t feel it). These were my parental experiences and if I was to think of God as a parental figure, I most definitely related Him more to my mother than my father.

In school, I learned about the Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition. Those didn’t seem very right to me. They certainly didn’t coincide with “Love thy neighbor,” “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone,” and “God loves you.”

I later learned about the “Good News.”

I was exposed to Christians who believed everything you did was a slight on your soul and could send you straight to Hell. I was exposed to Christians who told me that my dear friend who committed suicide was going to Hell. I was exposed to Christians who told me that my gay and lesbian friends were going to Hell. I was exposed to Christians who told me that my Jewish, Muslim and atheist friends were  . . . you guessed it, going to Hell.

I was also exposed to Christians who didn’t believe any of that. I’ve heard so many different interpretations of the bible . . . it’s enough to make my head spin.

One Christian says that what another Christian believes is not true. One Christian says that another person isn’t really a Christian if they don’t . . . . One Christian says to interpret the bible literally, while another says that it speaks figuratively. One Christian says that evolution and creationism can coexist peacefully, while another says that evolution is a lie and people once walked the Earth with dinosaurs.

If Christians can’t agree on what Christian values are, how am I supposed to know what they are? (This has become even more evident to me since I started blogging. Just check out some of my previous blogs regarding religion and the vast differences in the comments from Christians.)

What do the politicians mean when they say “a return to Christian values”?

Here’s the thing. I don’t particularly care. I think “Christian values” has become one of those propagandized phrases that doesn’t really mean anything at all, at least when spouted off from the lips of people solely trying to gain your votes.

Here’s the other thing. Since when did “Freedom of Religion” not apply to non-Christians? Yes, our founding Fathers were mostly Christian, but I’m fairly certain that they were well aware of other non-Christian religions. And I don’t see anywhere in our Constitution where it specifies that “Freedom of Religion” only applies to Christians.

“Christian values” pretty much mean nothing to me . . . I do, however, believe very strongly in certain values that I’m sure many Christians believe in as well. Those are honesty, integrity, equality, responsibility for one’s own actions and of course, “Love thy neighbor” and “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” I’m also fairly certain that just as many non-Christians believe in those things as well.

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15 responses to this post.

  1. As a Christian, I’ll not take this post to heart, Dayle (though I must admit my feelings are a little hurt). Regardless, I wish we could meet for a cup of Chai at a cozy coffeehouse. 🙂 In fact, I’ve taken a leave of absence from GoodBlogs because I just can’t handle all the debating and controversy. I’m so over the arguing. And while there are many points in your post with which I disagree, I do agree with your main point that politicians have propagandized the phrase “Christian values” to make it bereft of any value whatsoever.

    Reply

    • Ginny, I am terribly sorry for any hurt feelings. That was certainly not the intention of this post. I did not intend for this to come across as anti-Christian in any way, shape or form.

      Most of the people I love the most in my life are Christians and some of them, extremely devout. I have the utmost respect for the religion and its practioners, as I do for all religions.

      My points were that as a country that has as part of its constitution “Freedom of Religion,” “Christian values” have no place in politics. Positive values do have a place in politics, and I fully believe that many, if not most, Christians agree with the positive values I mentioned. But so do many non-Christians.

      I’ve had arguments, I have had debates and I’ve had good thought-provoking conversations with Christians . . . What I have learned more than anything else is that my impressions of a person should come solely from knowing that person, not knowing that person’s religion. Likewise, my feelings about politicians are completely the same.

      Reply

      • No need to apologize–I’ve been having one of those heart on the sleeve kind of days. I guess I mistook your rancor for the political use of Christian values as rancor for the beliefs of the Christian faith.

        Reply

  2. “Yes, our founding Fathers were mostly Christian”

    Please see http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/farrell_till/myth.html

    Reply

    • Thank you for the link. I’ve only skimmed the page so far, but it definitely looks interesting and I look forward to being able to sit down and read the whole thing!

      Reply

  3. I “get” what you’re saying here. I also feel like there are different types of distinct “religions” within Christianity itself and that’s where a lot of the conflicting views emerge. You have Baptists, Pentacostals, Methodists, Seventh Day Adventists, Mormons, Amish, Muslims, etc. that ALL call themselves “Christians” and obviously with all the differences within each of those faiths, there’s going to be different outlooks and views. Not to mention, you have some faiths that don’t even consider the other faiths as actually Christian while that faith may beg to differ.
    Even as a Christian myself, I struggle with understanding specifically what the government is going for…..The terminology should probably be more towards “Positive Values” rather than the word Christian…..because Christian doesn’t mean the same to everyone…..but I also feel like with maybe Non-Christian faiths, there are different individual views and outlooks too, right?
    This is a hard topic for me because it delves closely to Politics and I hate discussing politics…why? Because I feel like there’s so much to politics that I will just never truly understand and since I don’t feel adequately capable, myself, of having a knowledgeable enough basis behind me to discuss everything, I’m always afraid of making myself look dumb….
    In feeling that way, I probably do anyways because if you see what my Facebook says about politics, it says mostly in the middle….and it seems that to one side that makes me a confused liberal and to the other side, it makes a backsliding Conservative….so ah! I just can’t ever make everyone happy, can I? 🙂

    Reply

    • I always say that I love controversy, but I hate confrontation. I could never be a politician in this life because I can’t stand politics. There’s plenty that I don’t understand as well, and there is a lot that I won’t discuss because of that. But there are also things that I feel very strongly about and those I will talk about at great length!

      “it seems that to one side that makes me a confused liberal and to the other side, it makes a backsliding Conservative….so ah! I just can’t ever make everyone happy, can I?”

      I can actually relate to this a bit. I consider myself a bleeding heart liberal for the most part, but I do have some typically “conservative” beliefs as well or maybe not so much conservative but republican . . . and everything I share those beliefs, I feel like I’m betraying the liberals!

      “but I also feel like with maybe Non-Christian faiths, there are different individual views and outlooks too, right?”

      Of course! And I would oppose our government seeking “Jewish values,” “Pagan values,” Buddhist values,” etc. just as much as oppose it seeking “Christian values.” . . . . . I think “positive values” is absolutely right! (Not that everyone can agree on what those are, but at least there would not be the issue of mixing religion with politics.)

      Reply

  4. “If Christians can’t agree on what Christian values are, how am I supposed to know what they are?” This is SUCH a good point, Dayle. After reading Ginny’s comment, I decided to go ahead and post mine before reading any others to maintain my own frame of reference. I do want you to know that I did not take any offense whatsoever to your post and think you asked some great questions. I personally think there’s some confusing stuff in the Bible, and I was raised in a church-going household and have gone to Sunday school, church, and weekly Bible study all my life. I will die still having questions for the Lord. But that’s okay with me. I truly believe in the power of the Holy Spirit because who I am on my own is totally different than who I am when I am walking with the Lord. That may not make any sense outside of my head. But I see how God changes me, activating the fruit of the Spirit in my character, when I’m daily reading Scripture and praying. To me, THAT is what the Bible “says,” not in words but in the way it comes to life inside of a person’s spirit. I realize that may sound loony, but that’s okay. : )

    Reply

    • It makes total sense “outside of your head,” at least to me! My ex-husband is Christian and while I often challenged him to think about what he believed, I also strongly supported him in his faith. I knew him when he went to church, and I knew him when he didn’t . . . and he was a better, happier person when he immersed himself in his faith.

      I have my own ways of connecting to my Higher Power(s) and when I let them slide, I’m not the same “me” either. So yeah, I totally get you!

      There was another similar discussion on GoodBlogs recently. The post was about how you choose your morality. I commented with what I assumed would likely not be a very popular response, but I was hoping further discussion would pick up from it, but no such luck.

      As non-religious as I am (and I have always been that way, even in the days when I sported my WWJD bracelets), I am and have always been fascinated by religion. I have a very Unitarian “all Gods are one God” kind of belief. I just feel that religion has no place in politics, especially in the good ol’ U.S. of A.

      On a side note, does anyone else remember The Flying House?! I LOVED that show!

      Reply

      • I do remember that show, Dayle! I was a little older when we discovered it in my household, but my baby sister absolutely loved it! 🙂

        Btw, I agree that the phrase “Christian values” is often used as a propagandistic tool, and at its root, propaganda and most political banter is aimed to deceive–a characteristic that defiles any kind of “positive values,” I do believe.

        Hey, would you mind explaining your “Good News” link? Was it that church denomination that you mean by that term, or are you referring to the Gospel (that word means “good news”)? Just curious. Thanks.

        As one whose capitalization regarding religion you have kindly corrected, let me return the favor: When referring to the Bible or other writings that people consider sacred, the term should be capitalized. (And that’s not just my own take: See http://www.libraryonline.com/default.asp?pID=48).

        Reply

      • Point taken on the Bible . . . I have seen it both capitalized and not capitalized (both ways by both Christians and non-Christians), so I wasn’t sure 🙂

        As to the “Good News” . . . this is what happens when I rush to find my links! . . . The site has nothing to do with what I was referring to, so I just removed it. I admit that my reference is vague . . . kind of on purpose. “Good News” here refers to the Jehovah’s Witnesses who have come to my door or who I have passed in the street . . . not all of them, I’ve had conversations with some who were very nice (see my yard sale blog for one example), but the ones who have quite literally shoved pamphlets in my face . . . the ones who have barked at me (yes, barked – it’s the only way to describe the tone and the facial expression) to read.

        Reply

  5. Oops–I meant *defies* not *defiles*!

    Reply

  6. […] Do I think they all “hate gay people”? No, I don’t. What I think is that they are misguided and seem to lack understanding and acceptance of the fact that we do not live in a theocracy. This is not a “Christian nation” and we are not bound by biblical principles, regardless of anyone’s interpretation of them. […]

    Reply

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