Culture is religion externalised. It’s what you get when you practise your religion (your ‘cultus’) in public life. Harmony is what you get when that culture all flows from a single source.
Our culture includes our views on marriage, clothing, morality, seatbelts and the unborn. The laws we make are a reflection of those views and help give shape to our culture.
If we view Man as his own lord then our behaviour will reflect that belief and we will have a culture of defiance, along with laws that encourage it. If we acknowledge the Lordship of Jesus Christ in every area of life, we will have a culture of sacrificial love and harmony, both with God and man.
Harmony is God’s idea. It is contingent on the existence of one God whose law-word is the public and unifying religious principle (the ‘Cultus’) over all mankind.
Cultures clash because at their core they are operating under different religious beliefs – differences over what people regard as important in the world. Because this is the case, you simply can’t get harmony from cultural diversity.
Never-the-less, we try.
Living in a Multi Cultus
Some will argue that secularism is the only solution that guarantees inclusion. But secularism is just as much a religion as Hinduism and equally exclusive. It has a set of beliefs about the value of human life.
It also believes in the absolute exclusion of all religious values in the public sphere – except its own.
Harmony Day is our secular effort to secure peace and unity – or at least the appearance of it. It is an acknowledgement that we live in a broken world.
Here is a definition of the day from my own country, Australia, where the event is a big deal,
The ongoing theme of Harmony Day is ‘everyone belongs’. Harmony Day is a day of cultural respect for all. By participating in Harmony Day activities, we can learn and understand how all Australians equally belong to this nation and enrich it.
Sounds good. But do we all belong? Are our multiple cultures all accepted and respected?
Does “cultural respect for all” include respect for cultures that reject abortion? Can I still belong and find acceptance if I embrace female circumcision?
Probably not. So how does harmony work in a multi-cultural community where we are all submitting to different standards, different religious beliefs and laws? Look around. It doesn’t.
Disunity and Death
Given that we appear so bad at peace and harmony, it might be asked why we even care to pursue it.
We care because disunity and disharmony have always brought forth nothing but death. And if there is one thing that we all agree on, it’s that we don’t like death, at least, not our own.
But, death did not enter this world on account of neighbours who fight over cultural diversity. It entered this world on account of man’s broken relationship with God. The fighting came later.
Mankind sinned against God and one of the results was war. War with one another. James, a follower of Jesus put it this way,
What causes fights among you? Is it not that your passions are at war within you? You desire and don’t have so you murder. You covet and don’t obtain, so you fight and quarrel. (James 4:1)
Man is torn. He has a law written on his heart telling him to love his neighbour, but this law is at war with a jealous nature – a nature that began to dominate our lives when we turned away from God.
Paradoxically, the solution to the disunity that led to death, is another death – the death of Jesus Christ, in which our old self, along with its misplaced and selfish passions, also dies.
Many good people have sacrificed themselves in the cause of peace, but peace has failed to materialise outside of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace.
We keep sending our sons off to die in the hope of harmony, but harmony remains elusive.
Death in the pursuit of unity. It’s a heavy price to pay. But Jesus has paid the price in His own death and resurrection.
And so, we are left with a choice. We can go on sacrificing ourselves, our sons and our daughters for the cause. Alternatively, we can run our mock parades of harmony up and down the Côte d’Azur.
Or we can accept the sacrifice that God has already provided in the death of His Son.
A death that reunites and restores heaven and earth, God and Man and Man and Man. A reunion that breaks down the dividing wall of hostility and then liberates us equally under the grace of a merciful God.