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Christianity - Modern Life
Should Christians avoid alcohol?

Christianity - Modern Life

This GCSE RE quiz takes a look at modern life. Christianity is an established religion with a track-record of virtually 2,000 years, but very much a 'living' faith in the hearts and souls of its believers ~ and one with plenty to offer in modern life.

In terms of social and technical history, this world of ours (and God's, so Christians and others believe) has changed vastly within the last few percent of the timescale of the Christian era. Two centuries ago ~ counting back from 'now', in the 20-teens ~ Europe was trying to recover from the Napoleonic Wars; the Industrial Revolution was barely into its stride; railways had still to be invented, let alone motor cars, powered flight nor telecommunications and the Internet. Yet reckoning at 3 or 4 human generations per century, that isn't vastly far ago.

On the world stage, but with personal impact on most of us individuals who share it, within the lifetime of your own grandparents (say, post-WW2) we have seen the twin demise of colonies and communism, the reality of long-haul air travel, the application of computers to life and communications, the ready availability and consequences of ‘recreational drugs’ and chemical contraception … and, no doubt, many other related or unrelated innovations that have raised lifestyle questions for people of faith. Plentiful commentators will seek to persuade you, for instance, that conventional churchgoing and any traditional view of marriage (as a heterosexual, monogamous and lifelong commitment) are doomed to terminal decline, whether or not these are supposedly connected.

Amid all this, the stark realities of early-Christian life, as addressed in Paul’s letters, may seem remote and simplistic. But as long as people are living and working, raising families, laughing and crying etc., a code of ethics ~ precepts and practices by which to conduct one’s life ~ still surely have a valuable place. This quiz will open up some of the joys and challenges of the Christian faith in daily living in its early 3rd millennium.

Please note that several specific topics (such as Suffering, and Other Faiths) are covered in separate quizzes.

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Several Christians (not least, Mrs Mary Whitehouse some 50 years ago) have been concerned, and dismayed, at the amount of violent and sexualised content in the media and the free use of strong language.

Which of the following would appear to be the LEAST practical way of dealing with such issues?
'Anyone who 'blasphemes' (e.g., uses the name of God or Jesus as a swear-word or otherwise with disrespect) should be sentenced to death'
'Christians should boycott and lobby the broadcasting organisations, keeping up pressure on their chatrooms and feedback sites, in order to make their opinion heard'
'For anyone not wanting to see such material, there is always the option of the off-switch'
'Christian creative people should be seeking promotion within such organisations on their merits, and influencing them for good from within'
Answer 1 may seem to offer (what we might call) a clear-cut solution, but that would hardly be a forgiving or Christian way of dealing with the problem. Campaigning, with patience and integrity, from within and outside the responsible organisations would be more likely to achieve a sympathetic influence in the longer term. Answer 3 may seem obvious and even slightly feeble, but it certainly isn't untrue ~ is it?
Why, above all, might Christians be concerned about the apparent rise in drug-taking?
Addicts tend to gather in such places as churchyards, which become no-go areas ~ with incoherent / incontinent / foul-mouthed people and contaminated equipment lying about, where innocent people might wish to come through
'The human body is a temple of the Holy Spirit', which is distorted and polluted if the person takes drugs
Drugs are addictive (drawing people away from God and normal society, often a very time in their lives when they seem least able to cope)
Drugs create further misery when addicts commit serious crimes (theft, murder) in order to fund a habit they cannot bring back under control
At the individual level, lives can all too easily spiral out of control when drugs become the taker's 'master' rather than their occasional 'servant'; an individual soul becomes harder to return to a healthy life-path, while those around them suffer in all sorts of related ways. This is potentially more important and distressing than the principles (answer 2) or even the specifics in answers 1 and 4.
'Is it true that all Christians should avoid alcohol?' Which of these responses contains the clearest Biblical link on this issue?
Some denominations insist on avoiding it because it can cause the person to lose control of themself, at which point other urges or 'demons' can take over and prompt unhelpful behaviour
No, not least because one of the central Christian features is the Communion ~ in which Jesus Himself used wine as a symbol to be shared by all
No, but only if the drinkers can maintain control and moderation at all times
Just because Jesus modelled the Communion with the involvement of alcohol, doesn't necessarily mean that all Christians have to feel they need to drink at other times. Some 'lower-church' denominations, in any case, use non-alcoholic wine at their services.
Which of these does NOT appear to be a reasoned Christian response to the Internet?
'The internet is commercially driven by filth (pornography), drugs and other criminal endeavours, and I will have nothing to do with anything so tainted'
'It is a shame when young people, in particular, so selfishly spend all their time online instead of taking part in wholesome, social non-virtual activities'
'I fear for the dark influences that people can so easily stumble upon and fall in thrall to, with the Web being an unregulated free-for-all'
All of the above
There may be some truth in the claim, but perhaps it would be better if such a Christian became actively involved in 'cleaning up the net' ~ rather than burying their head in the figurative sand and bemoaning from the sidelines.
'Why are practising Christians unlikely to actively play the Lottery?'

Which of the following appears the LEAST convincing reason?
'Playing the Lottery does not represent worthy or wholesome stewardship of money that God has entrusted to us'
'The Lottery tends to encourage others to gamble with their money, who can least afford to lose it'
'The Lottery tries to substitute blind chance in place of steady honest behaviour'
'The Lottery encourages 'something-for-almost-nothing' covetousness, clearly against the spirit of the Ten Commandments'
Answer 3 is marginally the least specifically-reasoned argument, though even this one might be supported by carefully researched statistics. But there are valid contentions in each of these answers, including answer 3. However, many Christians will relatively happily dip into their pockets for a small-scale raffle on a parish occasion, for such a 'good cause' as church funds. The question is therefore perhaps one of definition of scale.

Many Christians may meanwhile have felt distaste when a convicted criminal won a large National Lottery prize a few years ago, on a ticket he had presumably bought over-the-counter before he went into jail (and whether or not with 'clean' money).
'Why shouldn't a Christian become wealthy?'

Which of these represents a relatively gracious and positive response to this question?
'Jesus Himself was repeatedly critical of people who put their own financial and lifestyle security before the basic needs of others'
'It is simply unfair that any one individual should have such advantages over other people'
'Having the money (if by honest means) is not the issue: it's a matter of how generously and appropriately one uses it'
'Look what happened to some of those televangelists, who turned out to be so corrupt and hypocritical'
Money in itself (unless 'dirty' by origin or association, e.g. from slaving / trafficking / smuggling / prostitution) is morally neutral, and indeed can potentially be a great force for good ~ such as through charitable investment and philanthropic donations. The 'Protestant work ethic' ('The Lord helps those who help themselves') is not without honour, unless or until an individual is selfishly and extravagantly feathering their own nest. But who is to judge at what precise financial point that state of affairs has been reached, with reference to any one other individual? Christians are enjoined not to be unduly judgemental, nor to let themselves be consumed with envy!
Which way should a Christian vote in a typical political election?
They should prepare with thought and prayer, and vote according to their conscience and circumstances
Mindful of Jesus' teaching, their vote should favour the underprivileged and marginalised in society
They should vote in favour of powerful authorities and aim to influence them for good
There is no such thing as a 'typical Christian'
In a European democracy, for instance, sincere Christians might equally well vote for a Labour or Socialist Workers' Party (aiming for social justice and progress), or for a Conservative one (broadly championing traditional values), or indeed almost anyone else ~ other than any party whose policies were inherently divisive, or based on hatred of others (e.g. immigrants &/or refugees).
Modern Christians might feel uneasy about supermarkets for various reasons: which of these appears to be the WEAKEST?
'Supermarkets have such huge commercial power and traction over the general public, which may be an unhealthy state of economics. They pander to impressionable shoppers' greed, in order to line their own pockets'
'One hears alarming reports of globalisation, and commodities being sold at cut-throat prices, which may have been produced in faraway anonymous conditions that a Christian would be ashamed to endorse (e.g. 'sweatshop labour'). Meanwhile, in order to be competitive for shoppers, they pay their suppliers ~ at home or abroad ~ cheaply &/or late, and treat them poorly by cancelling orders and imposing silly rules about how good-looking their produce has to be (even with vegetables that are going to be chopped or mashed up before serving) ... all of which aspects, do nothing to inspire moral confidence nor foster a commercially healthy economy. if it weren't for the sheer convenience of a 'one-stop shop' complete with virtual doorstep parking, I'd never set foot in one!'
'Supermarkets have little regard to environmental concerns and sustainability; and as well as forcing consumers' choice (through the exercise of their own commercial 'muscle' and economies of scale), they also stifle competition at the local level, because smaller traditional shops ~ more human-scaled, with deeply knowledgeable staff who have time to advise customers ~ cannot match the superstores' prices ... all of which ultimately diminishes shoppers' choices rather than genuinely expanding them'
'People flocking to the supermarket, especially on Sunday mornings ~ to a 'temple of consumerism', rather than to church, in a 'post-Christian age' ~ is a sorry sign of modern people's worldly priorities'
Answer 4 seems a somewhat reactionary, rearguard view: there is no law compelling people to attend church on a Sunday or indeed at any other time, and they have free choice whether and when to 'congregate' in the supermarket aisles rather than any church's. Any or all of these arguments would need persuasive research and statistics if they are not to be dismissed as mere examples of suspicious opinion. (And who, meanwhile, is to say that there may not be plenty of Christians working in the supermarkets and their supply chains?)
Why, principally, ought a Christian to include support for environmental concerns amongst his/her charitable giving?
It could be wrong to give 'exclusively' to Christian missions and so forth, as such
Planned giving to environmentally responsible causes is an example of sensible stewardship, since we find ourselves more or less in control of the future of our planet
'God loves a cheerful giver'
Christians have a duty to prevent the extinction of species that God created
For those who are that way minded, it is entirely reasonable to devote a proportion of one's charitable giving to organisations that preserve and enhance our God-given environment. Meanwhile there are worthwhile elements of moral truth in each of the other answers.
Are there particular jobs that Christians would be likely to do?
Christians would never be likely to go into the Armed Forces where they might be, directly or independently, responsible for killing
Christians believe God gives a wide and necessary variety of talents (and opportunities) to people, so they will do whatever work they feel He has called and equipped them to do
Christians may well feel called to serve in the 'caring professions' such as medicine, teaching and social work
Christians would be reluctant to involve themselves in working with large quantities of money
With answer 1, it is worth bearing in mind that the Armed Forces do many other more positive things than killing; there are plenty of active Christians in uniform, and all (or most) serving units have a chaplain attached ~ not only Christian chaplains, indeed.

Answer 3 may well be true but does not account for all Christians; while as to answer 4, the money in itself is not necessarily repugnant to Christians: indeed, they may feel drawn to help exercise responsibility in how that money is deployed.
Author:  Ian Miles

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