I have never considered myself a religious person, and I don’t discuss my spirituality in public very often. All my life, I had my own unique relationship with God, without having any person or a specific church telling me how to do it. I consider myself a spiritual person, and I gladly serve my denomination in a robe. Even before finding a church that aligns with my personal spirituality, God and I always got along just fine, and I think I have become a more decent person for it. I believe in values embraced by Jesus, including:
- The Golden Rule
- God is Love
- Love Thy Neighbor
- Judge not lest ye be judged
- God is not a respecter of persons
- The Kingdom of God is within you
- Of the things Jesus did, we shall do those and even greater things
- All of us are God’s children
Read the Ten Commandments. Not one of them says “Thou shalt condemn those whose beliefs differ from yours.” Jesus said that an even more important commandment is to love they neighbor as thyself. And if you don’t love “thyself” then love thy neighbor even more. Judge not others. Let those without sin cast the first stone. Not one of us is equipped to act on God’s behalf, regardless of what your role is in your church. Not a congregant. Not a deacon. Not a minister. Not a bishop, or a cardinal, or a pope or a grand poobah. We are all God’s children learning our lessons in our own way. We have far too many lessons to learn to worry about anyone else’s path to understanding.
There is no need for a personified God to condemn anyone, at our request or otherwise, for if there were, it would imply that the creative force of the universe is not perfect – that God made a mistake. For any person to take responsibility for God and condemn someone on their own implies that such person is better than God. God does not need any help. Each of us are expressions of God on our own path of understanding, and we’ll figure it out in our own way. What works for you or me might not work for someone else. Let us find our own way. We’ll all get there. Some of us may choose to take the scenic route, while others want to be on the expressway. That’s okay. Just remember that taking short cuts causes us to miss out on the lessons that elevate us to a higher level of consciousness. We can’t learn calculus without learning a lot of other modes of mathematics along the way. We can’t be experts in our career path the week after we get out of school. We must learn the ropes. The same applies to life and spirituality. We have to learn our lessons, and if we don’t, we will continue on our path of learning until we do. No magic man in the sky is going to absolve us of our responsibility. Jesus had his lessons and so do we. Neither he, nor anyone else can do it for us.
The third commandment tells us that we shall not take the name of the Lord in vain. We think of phrases like “God dammit” as examples of this offense. What we don’t think about is that any time we call on God to do something on our behalf, or to meet our personal desires, we are taking the name of God in vain. It is not God’s job to do anything on our behalf. As with any good parent, it is the Creator’s job to teach us and encourage us to take care of ourselves without having to intervene.
I also believe that we are personally responsible for our thoughts and actions, and I believe in Karma, the law of cause and effect. The judgment of God is the judgment of ourselves. We must reconcile our less-than-holy actions in this life or the next. No one will punish us more than our own realization of the harm we have created in our life against our fellow humanity. God, a person, if there were such a thing, would only have to sit back and watch the show.
Most of these are not just Christian values, but universal values across all faith traditions. We are all equal in the eyes of God. I also believe that God cannot be condensed into 66 books, especially when much of those books’ content is contradictory, and based largely on very earthly culture and values of ages past. All things in this universe are of God, whether we perceive them as “good” or “bad” either 2,000 years ago or today, and whether or not they are specified in the Bible. Any person who condemns any part of God’s creation, condemns themselves, and they are condemning God. To condemn in Jesus’ (or Mohammad’s, or anyone else’s) name even further denegrates the purpose of religion and spirituality, and is by definition “unholy.”
If you are minding someone else’s business, who is minding yours?