Column from Belarus: How a dictator abuses the truth about marriage and family
Have you ever dreamt of living in a European country where traditional values are respected and even protected by the law? Where marriage is only a union between one man and one woman. Think about Belarus!
But before you, Western Europeans, are trying to sell your houses and get a Belarusian visa as fast as possible, I should say that my country’s “fight for values” looks more like a propaganda tool than a real battle for a god-fearing worldview.
What do I mean? The new concept of National Security will soon be prepared in our country. Natalya Kachanava, the head of the Council of the Republic, stated that the new national doctrine should defend people’s minds against the evil ideology from the West. The official said that Belarusians are now at war.
However, they are not like the Ukrainians, who heroically defend their homes from the Russian invasion. Instead, Belarusians are in a worldview war, in which the cruel West, according to Kachanava, is bombing Belarusians, promoting “untraditional values”. And only the government can save people in such a dangerous situation.
The most prominent concept for today’s state in Belarus is probably to “become a fortress” of traditional values in the modern mad world between East and West. Officials often say that publicly. Several years ago, Lukashenko even stated: “It’s much better to be a dictator than to be gay.” You see, traditionalism seems to be the only hope for them to survive in a deadly cultural war and unite Belarusians against political changes and make them loyal.
So, what do Kachnava and her colleagues see as the enemy? LGBT rights, gay marriages, “childfree ideology”, sexual education etc. She even calls such ideas ungodly or deadly for society. Sounds rather Puritan, right? You would even imagine that the Belarusian authorities read chapter XX of Book IV of Calvin’s “Institutes” to keep legal order and support good in the country.
What are traditional values in Belarus, then? The new document will state that marriage is only a heterosexual union between one man and one woman. Sounds like a voice from heaven, doesn’t it?
Also, the Russian Orthodox Churches receive a unique status and role to uphold –again– traditional values by providing lessons, meetings and studies wherever they want.
Spreading evil propaganda of “childfree” or “LGBT” ideology would be fined up to 7400 rubles (nearly 2000 euros). A huge amount if the average salary in Belarus is almost 400 euros a month. Imagine that in your country, where you can probably be fined for your beliefs!
But what is the problem with that all? First, we should mention that people who speak out loud for “traditions” in Belarus do not seem to respect the values they promote. Abortions are so widespread that there were nearly 1 million of them in the last 30 years. The population of our country is less than 10 million people. So, more than 10 per cent of us were killed this way.
Also, the person who still calls himself the President of Belarus does not live with his wife but dates different young women at public events. He even takes his extramarital son –Kolya Lukashenko– everywhere. That doesn’t look conservative or traditional, right? And I could say he broke the moral law more than a million times.
It seems that the meaning of “traditional values”, which were formed because of the Gospel teaching of the church, became a means of propaganda. The government invented a “mighty enemy” from the West and tries to fight it at every cost, whatever it takes. And some fellow Christians became victims of this manipulation.
The Belarusian authorities are not the first who tried to use “traditional values” or religious feelings of people to serve their interests. In church history, the Roman Emperor Theodosius attempted to get the love of the church that spread incredibly over the Empire. He destroyed several famous pagan temples and started a massive massacre in Thessaloniki, where people didn’t want him to enter the city with his army.
After that, one of the most influential presbyters, Ambrose, used the church discipline against a powerful civic ruler. He officially requested the emperor to confess, even though the politician tried to look like the “protector” of Christian values.
So, in such complex cases, we must remember that the Christian faith is not only a cultural phenomenon but a political agenda or ethical teaching that should become law. Jesus Christ Himself, the Righteous One, suffered for the unrighteous, that He might bring us to God (1 Peter 3:18). He proclaimed the Gospel for dead sinners like we are.
Modern Christians in Belarus need the wisdom James asked us to seek in his letter. We lack not pragmatic or emotional wisdom but Godly wisdom. We need it, not to become victims of people who try to use us in their political issues, but to be faithful witnesses of Christ.
Indeed, we know that marriage is only between a man and a woman. But stating this obvious truth should not make Christians blind to other important issues. The Belarusian traditionalist could easily be just the other side of the coin of his untraditional opponent. And the Gospel about God’s judgment and grace should be proclaimed both to dictators and gay people, even if they will refuse it, laugh at it or send you to prison.
Increase in marriages has a downside
Owning a Bible might become illegal in Belarus