The question is whether so called European values are contradicting, opposing so called Christian values. I think this question is already false question. In the sense that, on the one hand Georgia considers itself being part of Europe. At least most of people I ask here, in this country they said yes, we are European, we are part of Europe. So how could not Georgia share European values, if Georgia is already part of Europe?!
The second misunderstanding is the opposition of European values and Christian values. The basis of what considered being European values is Christianity, the Christian faith. Christian faith as we all know is based on the notion of liberty, freedom. Liberation of sins, liberation of slavery to sins, we consider ourselves being redeemed by Christ, to be free people. People who act according to their conscience, because they know that they are already pardoned by Christ and the sacrifice.
Of course Christian values can be interpreted, evolve; change face, but basically they stay always the same. So how can Christian values on the one hand, be opposed to European values, which are based on Christianity mainly.
More opposition is about the culture. So what do people here in Georgia mainly consider being their culture, what we in Europe mainly consider our culture. This question has been of course gained some actuality with respect of the recent terroristic attacks in Paris and Brussels. What did this people attack? They attacked mainly European values, in the sense they are not ready to accept freedom of people. Freedom to act according to their conscience, these people who attacked European cities, Paris and Brussels they were against the perception of freedom which is at the basis of European culture, European values of course coming Christian values. They attacked the freedom of the press, the freedom of conscience, the freedom of expression. They were against the rights of people to express opinions, which are not always shared by everybody, but which are their opinions.
So what are European values to some extent became clearer than before. After these attacks many people took the streets and protested against these attacks, against this murder of so many people in the name of European values. So basically, the matter of freedom which we share I think with Muslims in Georgia, with all other Christians in the world and with many Christians in Europe. And there should not be any basic, any fundamental opposition between the two. The question is the interpretation of faith values and about culture. Of course we always interpret faith through our cultural means of perception. If we speak about faith, we speak about faith not always immediately been taken by faith and interpreting exactly what faith means, but we interpret faith through culture.
So of course, there are differences in culture between mainstream people here in Georgia and between mainstream people in Europe. But discussion goes on both sides. For example family values.
Family values are not a monopoly of Christianity. Family values exist in other religions also. But of course the certain Christian interpretation of family values is based on the partnership, on love between two people: man and woman. And family which originates out of this alliance, out of this togetherness, partnership between man and woman and behalf Christianity high esteem for family. But other religions, other countries also share this esteem. It’s a matter how to reconcile this culture values, family values with Christian values. So comes in the notion of freedom. There are situations when we have to put our Christian values of freedom and liberty in front of values which culture dictates us. So there may be a case, when as it is said in the bible a man or woman leaves father and mother in the name of faith. So the Christian religion is not exactly to be identified with all that we can understand under family values.
Personal opinion, conscious, freedom before god is much more important than our attitude towards this world. We might have feel all sorts of links, all sorts of constraints with respect to people of this world. In business, in professional life, in political life we follow certain opinions, certain constraints, obligations which society is dictating us. Christianity tells us – we are mostly responsible before god. So there may be oppositions between what culture dictates us with respect to politics, society, professional life and what Christianity allows us. Everything is allowed - says Apostle Paul – not everything is good.
So we can’t come in the name of Christianity be can come in some sort of opposition with the laws of this world. And the Christ is the best example of it. He did not obey the laws of this world, in the sense that he had another mission than just to obey whatever the world expected from him. He was the messiah, who did not aspire to power, to political independence of the Israeli people but he aspire to more spiritual independence, spiritual life, spiritual redemption.
So I think that one must be quite clear when answering this question about possible opposition between Christian values and European values. We must first be sure what is value with respect to culture, what is value with respect to our faith, what is the common basis of all the Christians in the world, be they orthodox, Lutheran, be they Catholics and what is the interpretation of this common insights into faith and what we make of it in the different framework of culture, history and geography. I think the question is very difficult to answer; if you take culture of course there may be opposition between what is perceived as Georgian culture and what is perceived as western European culture. But in the matter of faith, we must first obey the law of love, respect and mutual tolerance with each other, among people, but mainly between persons and then only we can talk about the sort of differences which we have to overcome.
Hans-Joachim Kiderlen, The Bishop of Evangelical-Lutheran Church in Georgia