Column from Belarus: This is why the talk about traditional values is just a smokescreen


Christian Life

Zmicier Chviedaruk, CNE.news

The family picture that Belarus loves, looks good and traditional. Photo AFP, Viktor Drachev

Are you tired of the cultural war in the West? Then Belarus might be like an oasis for you.

Many Westerners look like weary travellers in the desert: Exhausted by controversial arguments and unjustified accusations, they retreat from the conservative political line and seek shade, shelter, and drinking water. Often, the traveller’s head overheats in such conditions, and the brain passes off the most marvellous illusions as reality. Unscrupulous politicians from our territory frequently exploit this.

We “care” about traditional values. That is how political regimes in the East of Europe justify their existence. Don’t you have the right to vote and freedom of speech? That’s okay! It is only so that destructive Western values do not blow your immature minds. Even Lukashenko, President of Belarus, shouted more than once: “It is better to be a dictator than gay”.

Please add to this that in our country, LGBT propaganda is prohibited by law. However, other forms of propaganda quietly exist and flourish. Large families can claim a soft loan to get a three-room apartment. In Belarus, this is the limit of dreams for most people, who are unlikely to earn such excess their whole life.

Besides, the basic laws of the state clearly say that the family is a union of a man and a woman. Well, isn’t it the oasis of traditional values? Because of this, even many evangelical churches believe that thousands of political prisoners and a ruthless police regime and the failure to enforce the law are justified.

After a long trek through the desert without water or hope, it looks like a mirage or a fata morgana. However, such visions are dangerous and can lead to the death of a deceived, tired traveller.

Because, how “traditional” are the “traditional values” in Belarus?

When I was a kid, my parents took me to the local market in Minsk to buy my first authentic sneakers. I was excited, as I had worn only boots or sandals. The realities of life in our country in the 1980s and 1990s were not easy.

I remember how happy I was to be bought a pair of shoes with three stripes. But it turned out that they were not Adidas but Abibos, a similar knockoff. Bright against the background of neighbours who wore Belarusian or Chinese sneakers, I was so frustrated that the brand-new sneakers cracked and fell apart after a couple of months.

Larger families have privileges in Belarus. Photo AFP, Viktor Drachev

This is very similar to the cocktail of contradictory statements that we oppose to “Western values” and call for advertising purposes – traditional. The label is not wrong, but it looks fake and questionable.

It would help if you also imagined that in the category of “traditional”, we have legal abortion as well. It’s scary to imagine, but in the last 30 years, our so-called traditional country has had over one million abortions (in a total population of 9.5 million). By the way, this practice has been made legal in the country since the Soviet Union – in 1955.

Unfortunately, we also have the “freest” legislation on abortion. Somewhere, someone would say, “very modern and progressive”.

Belarus also leads in Eastern Europe in divorces. Most marriages fall apart from the first to the third year of the family’s existence. According to official statistics, only in 2023 were there 34,000 splits compared to 56,000 marriages. In 2022, the figures were comparable. So, there are three divorces for every five marriages.

All this happens in the oasis of traditional values. Even a brief consideration of the situation with “traditionalism” in Belarus points to a deep crisis and a huge problem, which we keep silent about and do not spare to name, hiding it under the brand of struggle against the West and for the preservation of “traditional values.”

After this come other issues, such as alcoholism and suicide. Our traditional country champions there, too.

It should be noted that the definition of “traditional values” in Belarus is difficult to interpret. Do those values exist in our country, or are they just a mirage which the bloodthirsty political regime tries to support in every possible way?

The facts say that the Belorussian version of “traditional values” is a symbiosis of Marxist materialistic views mixed with some Orthodox ideas. In our country, such cocktails are called “Orthodox atheism”. The very concept is used exclusively for propaganda purposes.

It is a pity that this narrative is often echoed in evangelical churches, saying that without injustice and unfreedom, it is impossible to maintain “values” in the modern world.

It is fascinating that we don’t see such antithesis in the Bible. Instead, it is the opposite. Sin, depravity, and unfreedom always go hand in hand. As in the history of the totalitarian cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, whose laws resulted in the permissiveness of a specific group of people. However, in the numerous prophecies God addressed to His covenant people, there was a call to “know Him” and restore just judgment and the works of truth and mercy.

I hope that Christians in Belarus will stop drawing a dividing line between the sin that manifests itself in the sexual sphere and that which is manifested in social life. And let our Western brothers and sisters look more carefully at where the propaganda comes from.



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