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The Flag of the World

-G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

This here blog is a glimpse or two or three at the condition of the 'fortress of our family' through the eyes Timothy Goddard, a Christian writer with an unhealthy interest in politics living in the Puget Sound area.

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Tuesday, April 01, 2003

 

The "baptist" basis for freedom
Marcus at the Conservative Observer (who, I should add, is the very first to add me to his blogroll, which I appreciate) is ticked off that, because of Kuwait's religiously based import restrictions on "the three P's"--pork, pornography and political propaganda, US troops cannot receive them in the mail. Bibles cannot be sent either, but are shipped in via Military Ministry, a piece of Campus Crusade for Christ, and are being snapped up like hotcakes.

I don't know that I'm quite as cheesed off as Marcus here. Certainly, I think the rules are absurd, and I've argued before that the Arab world will remain stagnant until they seperate church (or mosque) and state, and this is certainly a piece of it. But this is an interesting case of the friction between the Arab world and the West--the USA in particular--that drives much of the righteous Islamic anger against the US. And I don't use that term, righteous, as ironic. Many muslims, including many who have no desire to destroy the Great Satan, see America as just that, because of the undeniable filth that this country produces. As a Christian, with a similar moralistic understanding of the world, I concur. This country does produce filth (so do lots of other countries that don't raise the ire of the Arabic world, but that isn't the point here). I find pornography just as abhorrent as any good muslim. The difference comes, however, in that I would never censor the mail of an entire nation from sending materials I find morally reprehensible.

Why is this? Because I firmly believe that my own exercise of power to force someone to be moral is just as immoral as pornography--and futile, because, as a Christian, I also believe that the sin is not just in the doing, but in the thinking, and in the state of being that would lead to the "act" of sinning. It's a matter of the heart and mind, not just the hands--more than of the hands, even--and no government program can control those.

So, while standard devout Muslim on the street and I may well agree firmly about the moral nature of porn, we disagree firmly about how it should be battled. My way of battling it does not involve government intervention, because this takes away freedom. When Bush says that terrorists and such hate us because of our freedom, he is partly right in regards to many (wholly right in regards to others). They hate us for what we do with our freedom, not our freedom alone. Of course, human nature being what it is, freedom inevitably leads to sin. But that is better than a lack of freedom, because in a land with no freedom, there is still sin, plus a lack of freedom, which can (and will) impinge upon the good things as well as the bad. Can a Muslim country handle such a Christian, downright Baptist view of freedom? (Orrin Judd calls it "protestant with a little P.") I hope so, because otherwise, they’ll have a hard time every forming a democracy.

But back to the matter at hand—should the US force Kuwait to change their laws? No—hopefully, that will come with time. Should the US find a way for Americans to send pork, politics and, perhaps, even porn to their troops? Yes—and it shouldn’t be too difficult. Will they? Hard to say. I would also warn Marcus against such statements as "there is absolutely no reason our Army has to give up freedoms we cherish here in the US when overseas at war." The fact is, the men and women of the military give up all sorts of rights--so that we can enjoy them, and I thank them for it.

And for soldiers really desperate for porn, but getting only Bibles, may I suggest the entire book of Song of Solomon and Ezekiel, chapters 16 and 23? That should tide you over for a while...
Agree, disagree, have more information on the topic? Please, feel free to leave a comment. No profanity!
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