Sunday, June 13, 2010

Just don't laugh!

Another in my series of what's wrong with religion.

I heard a comment this morning that stuck in my craw. The more I thought about it, the more that it bothered me. While I love it when a person's life is legitimately "changed" by God so that they become a seeker and follower of him, I hate it when someone is "convinced" that they need religion and equate that find with finding God.

The comment started innocently enough - he said that "God often tells us to do something but doesn't tell us what the consequences of our obedience will be." I can agree with this, and it makes sense. He then, however, followed that observation with "...because if He did, we wouldn't do it!"

While it's certainly true that God tells people to do things and many of them would indeed refuse to do those things if they knew the consequences, there is a deeper truth here that needs examining. If someone who identifies themselves as a faith follower of God would actually refuse to do something that God told them to do if they first knew the consequences, that clearly reveals that they have no faith after all. If they only obey to the extent that it pleases them to obey, then the question is, is that really obedience? It's akin to me asking my children to do their homework and them following through and pouring their heart into their homework in the subjects that they enjoy, while ignoring the subjects that they did not enjoy. It may be partial obedience, but it is not completing the task the way that it was assigned. It is indeed dis-obedience.

The condition of the heart is repeatedly what scriptures stress that we must change. With a pure heart, good works will follow, but the works themselves do not create a clean heart. This is surely why Jesus stated that someone who "hates his brother has already committed murder in his heart". It is usually the same religious spirit that I've already mentioned that will also tell someone that they shouldn't be laughing at filthy jokes. The way that I see it, if the jokes are indeed bad, and if a person would still find them funny, what's the use in repressing the laughter? Isn't laughter an outward expression of something that occurs on the inside? I, for one, am done feeling guilty because I listened to someone's off-colour joke and cracked a smile. There are many things that society has taken to label as taboo, dirty, or inappropriate that I don't think God has any issues with. Indeed, there are many people whom I have personally known who have been turned off from God because of the self-righteous attitude of a joke-hearer. Bottom line is that I am responsible for my thoughts and the consequences of thinking or acting upon them. If I know something is truly offensive to God, and I truly love him, I simly don't believe that I will find anything funny about it. It is my issue between myself and God.

Sometimes I feel like a broken record, saying what appears to the be same thing over and over. But I strongly believe that what we are teaching as a path to God is really just a path to a religious spirit. Instead of teaching people to follow the law, we should be teaching people to know, love, and follow the God behind the law. If we truly are in love with the God of the universe, he will let us know when our behaviour is out of line.

Saturday, June 12, 2010


The more time I spend with my teenaged daughters and their friends, the more I get to see first hand how the search for the perfect mate begins in our youngest years. Unfortunately for kids, they don't yet know what they're looking for and the attachments seem to come and go in a week or two - then on to the next search.

The search continues, though, well into adulthood. Like Ponce de Leon engaged in a lifelong quest for the fountain of youth, many adults have similar resolve in their search for their "soulmate". Many books have been written on the subject and many lives have become consumed with the search for that perfect "one". I guess the thought behind that is that God must have predestined "a" person for us, then blindly turned us loose on earth to "find" that one person that would make us happy. In that line of thought, if we choose wrongly, we are stuck living with our consequences for the rest of our life, never to find happiness. People who subscribe to this theory usually feel the need to engage in "serial dating" so that they can try out a number of potential mates "before they buy". I guess they figure that exposure to a number of potential mates increases their odds that they'll eventually find that special one.

I used to subscribe to that point of view, but as I have aged, I no longer do. Instead, I think that the account of creation in Genesis sheds some light onto the search for a mate. The story says that God created all animals with a male and female, but had not done so with man. After seeing that all of his creation was "good" except man, which is said was "not good", he created a helper for man from man. In essence, he split the singular spirit of mankind into a masculine part and a feminine part. The account goes on to say that when man and woman come together again, they form a bond that unites the spirit: "The two shall become one flesh".

God created mankind in his own image, thus God possesses both masculine and feminine traits. Unfortunately, the "fall" of man happened when mankind decided to no longer wear the perfect spirit of God, i.e. he rebelled against God and his traits. The story of Jesus revolves around that reconciliation to our prior perfect state and a new harmony with God.

I believe that the spirit of God is drawn to the spirit of God. To the degree that a man submits his will, desires, and actions to God; and a woman submits hers to the spirit of God, when the two come together they will resemble God's original intent and have everything in common. They will be "soul mates". In that vein, I do not think there is "one" potential soul mate in the world - there are 3 billion potential soul mates. Realistically, though, most people have no desire to submit themselves or their spirit to God. Your 3 billion quickly gets narrowed down to an infinitesimally smaller field of choices.

Some might argue with this, suggesting that even those who have no desire to live a good or righteous life can still find a soulmate. I would suggest that those people may have found the comfort of commonality in another, rather than the unifying and completing bond of a soulmate. Everyone's psyche wants to be affirmed and when one finds another with the same desires, weaknesses, and passions, that affirmation occurs. But in the case of commonality, the focus is more on self-affirmation through the other person. This is vastly different from the bond of a spiritual soul mate where the bond seems to "just be". It is a result of who people are - their mutual submission to the spirit and principles of a higher power than themselves. It creates things in common, but is not based upon finding things in common.

To those who are engaged in the search for that "special one", I encourage you to stop looking and begin the process of laying down your own life to become the person that you were created to be, then "just be". The spirit of God is drawn to himself and he desires unity in his creation. If you find that soulmate, consider yourself to be blessed and thank God for his spirit of love. Then continue to seek to wear his spirit in your own life - for much as we may want to have expectations of others and try to fit them to our own mold, the only one that we really have any legitimate power over is ourself.