The very talented and opinionated Mark Steyn has made himself something of a local celebrity in Canada recently by his Muslim-baiting approach to some sensitive issues, such as freedom of speech and the question of what constitutes hate-speech. Mr. Steyn may have some cultural and ethnic axes to grind in his view of Islam; he does come from a Jewish background, a group not known to be particularly fond of their religious and ethnic half-brothers. But there is no denying that Steyn has touched a chord, especially among those who feel that Muslims generally, and fundamental Muslims in particular have been responsible for more than their fair share of the world’s problems of late.
I would like to suggest that Islam is not the problem, but there is something more fundamental as a root cause of much of the world’s unhappiness. The very real and very distressing outcome of this problem manifests itself as Muslim violence in many parts of the world. But that is only one part of the problem. The rape of the planet’s resources, the degradation of the environment, the plight of the poor in Haiti, Africa and many parts of Asia, the mind-numbing commercialization of every aspect of our lives, the deterioration of our families, the exploitation of women and children as sexual objects, and the obscene accumulation of wealth by a tiny percentage of the world’s population resulting in the grinding poverty of millions all arise from the same root: a loss of awe and wonder in the majesty of an Almighty God who created the universe by simply speaking it into existence, before whom every creature on earth will one day stand in judgment.
Our view of ourselves has degraded in exact measure as we have degraded God in our thoughts, words and deeds. To the extent that we no longer see ourselves as being made in the image of a holy God, to that same extent we pour scorn our husbands and wives, children and parents, friends and relations. To the extent that we will no longer be ruled by an Almighty God, in that same measure we will not be ruled by any earthly authority, resulting in chaos and anarchy, the breakdown of functioning democracies and the rise of totalitarian regimes. To the extent that we despise God’s moral law, to that same extent do we indulge in our own financial rapaciousness, and wink at those we do likewise in our societies.
To the extent that we scorn at any notion of final judgement, to that same extent do we commit all manner interpersonal atrocities, from the genital mutilation and honour killings of girls and young women in Hindu and Muslim societies to the sodomy of boys in Catholic churches by ordained ministers. To the extent that we do not see ourselves as male and female creations of God, to that very extent does half the world force their women to be covered black canvas bags while the other half forces them to expose themselves indecently at every possible opportunity and venue.
If God walked among us, He would weep. But there’s the rub: He did walk among us, and He did weep. And we have forgotten that essential fact; we will no longer be governed by its truth and its beauty. As a result we have become truly ungovernable. So we thrash about, looking to blame each other for the mess we have made of things, when the solution lies plainly before us. We simply must return to God, before we truly lose all that our civilization has brought us. I think at some fundamental level Muslims understand this better than we in the West do. They are seeking to get right with God in the best way they know how, and they are fighting hard against all the impediments they see in their way. And there is no doubt that the West in all in crass commercialism and godless pursuit of wealth even if it means the destruction of society itself stands in the way.
This is not to say that Islam is right. Clearly as a committed Christian I think they are misguided in some very basic fundamentals, such as the need for forgiveness. To imagine that forgiveness from a holy God is possible by any human action, no matter how well motivated or intended is a notion that either thinks too highly of man or too lowly of God. Jesus said the benchmark for entrance into heaven is “perfection” (Matthew 5:48). The Buddhists seem to understand this better than anyone, including Christians. They teach that our debt of wrong deeds, karma, is so great that it will take us many lifetimes to pay off even the smallest amount. What both faiths seem to recognize at some level and yet what they both lack is a Saviour. Only God can pay the debt we owe. That is why He came to earth. That is why He died.
The West used to know this. They no longer do. That is why the West is in decline. Look at history. God does not favour nations that do not uphold His name. Islam for all its faults is at least trying to recover that ground. Buddhists in Cambodia and Myanmar are beginning to recognize their social responsibility. These faiths are not our enemies; they are our natural allies in the struggle against all that is vile in human nature. So long as Mark Steyn and others counsel the West to fear Muslims, then all the greedy forces of the West will use this fear to maintain their grip on society and drive it further along the road towards its own destruction.
The Hebrew prophets when describing the reason for the destruction of their own people would simply say “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” That is the problem with the present age and the reason for all the woes that have befallen this truly wicked time. Seen in this light the Hindus, the Buddhists and even Islam is not the enemy of mankind; rather it is our own perverse and self-destructive lack of holy fear of all all-righteous and all-powerful God who will one day judge us for how we treat those whom He has made – male and female – in His own image.