Christianity can play a significant role in building a pluralistic culture in modern society. As the world becomes more pluralistic, it becomes more imperative for Christians to make a positive contribution to building a society where diverse groups of people co-exist with one another. Expectedly, this will cultivate an environment where beliefs, values, and practices of each group are appreciated, tolerated and respected. This can be done through engagement with these groups with the aim of understanding their principles in regards to morality and faith.
But what is a pluralist culture in the Christian context? It is the relationship that exists when smaller groups in a given larger society are allowed to pursue and maintain their values and practices, and such unique cultural identities are appreciated by the members of the group regarded as the mainstream culture (Meyer, 2008).In other words, it is the state in which majority appreciates the cultural uniqueness of the minority as part of the values of the wider society. Pluralism is founded on the idea that every viewpoint is considered as valid depending on the lens from which the issues in question are observed. For example, Christians can be deemed supporters of a pluralistic culture if they espouse the position that the culture of minority groups among themselves are an integral part of the wider society (Merino, 2010). To this end, in a Christian-dominated society such as the United States, the Christians can play an instrumental role in fostering peaceful co-existence between their culture and that of Jews, Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, Christians. It can also be true to mention that pluralism exists when Christians co-exist with other groups of people such as gays, and atheists, among others. By so doing, Christians demonstrate that non-Christian cultures are not an intrusion to the mainstream culture but a reflection of the wider laws and values of humanity.
Evidence of the adverse effects of a lack of a pluralistic culture in our society is well-documented. Over the course of human history, people of different religious faiths and moral persuasions have meted out violence against each other each as they attempted to project their ideals as universal truths (Merino, 2010).These differences have degenerated over the years into practices and beliefs that undermine the God-given values of humanity. In the US, for instance, there are negative attitudes towards religious diversity and a show of little willingness to accept the beliefs, values, and practices of people of Muslim and Hindu faiths (Merino, 2010).Since these attitudes are held by a huge portion members of the Christian faith, and a small fraction of the same faith have shown considerable positivity towards diversity, it is worth conjecturing that it is possible for more of this Christians to contribute toward building a culture that embraces pluralism.
One of the ways that Christians can contribute to cultural pluralism is through championing rights of ethnic minorities while allowing them to maintain and develop their cultures in Christian settings. Failures of tactics that seek to diminish the cultures of minority groups as a way of promoting cultural pluralism in the United States and elsewhere have generated hatred and fanned ethnic tensions (Merino, 2010). As Meyer (2010) posts, when people are depicted as threatening to the mainstream culture, tensions arise, and this weakens the strength of a society which would have otherwise benefitted greatly from the appreciation of this diversity. Given this, Christians should promote tolerance towards people of minority groupings while sensitizing members of different religious persuasions about the need to embrace the values that are common between them. For example, initiatives that promoted the use of English among immigrants into the United States in the 20th century yielded significant positive results in terms of their contribution to the economy and development of national values (Meyer, 2010).Similarly, Christians should be at the forefront in sensitizing Christians and members of other religious beliefs about the strengths that accrue when members of different faiths live side by side for the common good of their spirituality.
Urging people to tolerate the beliefs of minority groups may not be adequate in the effort towards the realization of a pluralistic society. For this reason, members of the Christian faith need to strive towards understanding what actually other faiths and social groups believe about God or whomever they regard as the spiritual controller of their lives. As posted by Dhavamony, (2004), Christians need to acquire the understanding of the values and practices of secularists and people of other faiths so as to the help them deal with ignorance and half-truths about minority groupings that do not profess the Christian faith. To achieve this, Christians should embrace interreligious collaboration and educate members of other faiths about the values attached to the religious practices of Christianity as a religion. This should be done with the understanding that members of the other faiths may also worshiping God as there no absolute truth in regards the God of a particular group of people. In this regard, Paul in the book of Acts (17:22-28) addresses people of Athens regarding the worship of God. In this text, Paul acknowledges that Athenians had a relationship with God though the approach used in maintaining such relationship was not what Jesus Christ had prescribed. Pauls message is a testament that people can worship God in varied ways and, as such, should be acknowledged by the Christian community as well. Such position underscores that pluralism is about living with the various viewpoints of all religious groups.
In engaging with other faiths and social groupings, people of the Christian must not interpret such relationship as detrimental to their own religious beliefs, practices, and values. Rather, it is a demonstration to hold on to religious identities and commitments while recognizing that Christianity as a religion does not exist in isolation (Dhavamony, 2004).In other words, there is strength in humanity when people of different religious inclinations join hands in the spirit of building commonness amongst themselves. As such, Christians should be not concerned that learning to engage with other forms faith would undermine Christianity despite the stark differences such experience is likely to reveal in regards to God and ways in which humankind should worship Him.
Away from seeking common ground with other religions, Christians in a pluralistic culture can occupy an integral part of the ensuring that discrimination against of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. These individuals continue to experience discrimination, some of the perpetrators being members of the Christian faithful (Eskridge, 2015). In the strict sense, the Christians have been responsible for human suffering and. Just like the Church took a position against slavery as the peculiar institution which was then regarded by anti-slavery campaigners as a violation of God-given rights,' so it should also take a supportive stance for LGBT persons. This is because a stand against discrimination is a significant step towards the liberation of this minority group.
Since discrimination of LGBT persons involves condemnation, Christians should lead in fighting this problem as it is written in the Scriptures not judge people but show love for one another (Eskridge, 2015).Many examples from the ministry of Jesus show that he showed love and embraced people regardless of their uniqueness from the majority in the society. For example, Jesus asked a Samaritan woman to drink from a well which was considered an abominable exchange between Jewish people and Samaritans. He did not regard the woman as a Jew but a person in need of help (Kraus, 2011).And since science has proved that LGBT people have unique characteristics, Christians need to be at the forefront in advocating for their justice.
In conclusion, the spread of pluralism in todays society has presented a lot of challenges to the members of the Christian community. In countries such as the US, people of different religious persuasions and social groups live together in spite of the values and practices that conflict with each other in terms of what is as right and moral. Christians being the majority of the mainstream culture need to preach tolerance and strength that is in religious diversity. This promotion of pluralistic culture can also be promoted through engagement with members of different religions. Moreover, Christians can build pluralism espousing the deeds of Jesus to fight against discrimination of LGBT people as an expression of love for fellow human beings. The enlisted actions would minimize the negative effects of the differences that exist between Christians and minorities.
Dhavamony, M. (2004). Jesus Christ in the understanding of world religions. Roma: Pontificia Universita Gregoriana.
Eskridge, W. N. (2015). Its Not Gay Marriage vs. the Church Anymore. The New York Times [New York].
Kraus, K. (2014). Queer theology: reclaiming Christianity for LGBT community. e-Research: A Journal of Undergraduate, 2(3), 99-101.
Merino, S. M. (2010). Religious Diversity in a Christian Nation: The Effects of Theological Exclusivity and Interreligious Contact on the Acceptance of Religious Diversity. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 49(2), 231-246. doi:10.1111/j.1468-5906.2010.01506.x
Meyer, G. (2008). The Cultural Pluralist Response to Americanization: Horace Kallen, Randolph Bourne, Louis Adamic, and Leonard Covello. Socialism and Democracy, 22(3), 19-51. doi:10.1080/0885430080236150
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