6 May 2008

An unacceptable phobia

Homophobia is so unacceptable to our modern society that the government has enshrined it in law as a crime.

But it’s only one of many “phobia”.

A phobia is a fear or a strong aversion to something, for no particular reason. It is irrational fear – like the fear of spiders or mice, or hair in the bathtub. But these are neither here nor there. It’s not socially unacceptable to have a fear of spiders!

Another little known phobia in our modern society is the fear of religious truth. People get irrationally cross about any claim to know the truth about God. People are really turned off – they have a strong aversion to statements like these from Jesus:

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No-one comes to the Father except through me.”

“All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations …”

What modern society hates is the idea that one or other religion might be right. That’s because, if one is right, by definition all others must be wrong. And the thought of having to abandon lifelong, even centuries- long beliefs is too much. The thought of declaring, for instance, that Islam is wrong would potentially cause so much trouble, we would prefer to avoid the matter altogether. So what modern society does is try to accept all religions as true, or at least that they all have something true to say about God. So we can believe what we want to believe, and be done with it. How convenient!

But this really won’t do. It’s as unacceptable as homophobia.

1. It’s an insult to human intelligence

An honest look at the world’s religions clearly reveals this: They are fundamentally different. It’s an insult to human intelligence to claim they all lead to the same God, or all come to the same thing in the end. The atheist Bertrand Russell was spot on when he said “Either they are all wrong, or one of them is right.” But let’s not insult each other by saying they are all the same really.

2. It’s an insult to God

When all the evidence is put together, it is increasingly clear that God exists, so to behave as though his identity and his character didn’t really matter is deeply offensive. We hate being misrepresented – people telling lies about us, or making up stories about us. How much more is God insulted by wrong portrayals of him! It’s our duty to seek the truth about God and expose and condemn the lies.

3. It’s highly irresponsible

If, for instance, as Jesus claims, there is a heaven and there is a hell, it’s highly irresponsible not to check out the truth of these claims by whatever means is available to us. How foolish for us and our children to end up in hell because modern society has a phobia about claims to the truth. We check the safety information on packets, why not the safety information about eternity?

It is a crime to be homophobic – to hate homosexuals out of an irrational fear. It’s much more of a crime to deny God our love because of an irrational fear of the truth. And it’s a crime to consign hundreds of thousands of souls to hell because of an irrational fear of the truth.

Fear of the truth is an unacceptable phobia.

It’s the compelling “truth claims” of Jesus that we grapple with at St George’s. So why not come along and join us on a Sunday at 10am?

Simon Smallwood
Vicar of St George’s