There has been much in the media of recent about the rather fraught view of religion by other parts of society. On this occasion, I’m thinking in particular of the Church of England’s (and to be fair, most other Christian denominations) response to gay marriage and of course the well-publicised vote on whether women should be allowed to become Bishops in the Church of England.
I find it an interesting discussion for a number of reasons not least because I am a Christian and an Independent Social Worker so find myself asking whether the two can co-exist without being at loggerheads for much of the time. On the one hand, they appear to be best friends; after all principles such as compassion, self-less giving, openness and honesty and shared between the two. Prior to being a welfare state wasn’t welfare provided by family and caring neighbours? On the other hand they appear to be poles apart and the (media’s interpretation of) views of Christians have become the very definition of inequality and discrimination: Being reported as an outdated, irrelevant religion whose demise is imminent.
All this has led to the media and bloggers alike asking whether God has become irrelevant or in Katy Campbell’s blog questioning whether God requires a bit of PR to continue in contemporary society.
I think a part of the problem is that people are confusing religion with the Christian’s view of God. For a Christian, God created everything in the beginning, has always and will always co-exists as Father, Son (Jesus) and Holy Spirit. Whilst Christians identify that individuals can have a relationship with God who is perfect, religion is largely man-made and often where the problems exist. The problems don’t necessarily lie in the fact that people believe in God or any other god for that matter.
Does God need a make-over? If you ask a Christian they would say that to suggest that he does would be to acknowledge that he isn’t actually God so in itself is an absurd question. Does the Christian church need a make-over to bring it in line with contemporary society and more in line with Biblical principles?
Another issue is the Bible which is of course the Christians’ book of choice. A Christian will tell you that it is one of the means through which someone gets to know God. It has itself been under scrutiny of recent particularly when discussions about gay marriage have been raised. The reason being that the Bible sets out a clear framework for marriage; Christians believe that it is an institution ordained by God and a union between a man and women. That is why most Christians will be against gay marriage. Not because they are homophobic but because it is contrary to the foundation of their faith.
So, perhaps the issue isn’t that God requires a make-over or that the foundations of the Christian faith should somehow be remodeled because to suggest such a thing is surely questioning whether any religion is valid.