There is a sort of religious corollary to Godwin’s Law. I am not sure exactly how to formulate it, but it seems that the longer any online discussion of public issues continues, the greater the likelihood that someone will eventually make a reference to religion as the source of injustice, oppression, prejudice and other social evils. The conversation then turns from whatever the topic was to a very polarized debate about religion, or it fizzles out altogether.
It is no secret to the handful of regular readers of this blog that I am a Catholic Christian who leads what some might call a very pious life. Those of you who know me in other settings know that I am not a cookie cutter believer and that I am not shy about saying what I think, even when (or particularly when) my opinions differ from the perceived (or even explicit) position of my faith family.
What I am about to say, however, is 100% “kosher” theology, to the best of my knowledge. Ready? It may be a shock. You may want to sit down and have a glass of water on hand. Here goes…
God created human beings with free will. We were created with the innate ability to believe or not, to choose to act for good or for evil, even to decide for ourselves what to believe in (or not) and to define good and evil in any way we wish.
One of my most basic religious beliefs is that God is God and I am not. If God saw fit to leave this huge responsibility of choice in the hands of human beings, who am I to take it away? It is not up to me to use civil law to take choice away from human beings who disagree with me. I am free to tell people what I believe and explain why I think there are better choices to be made. I am not free to threaten them with fines or imprisonment or physical injury or humiliation to make sure their choices are the ones I prefer.
I am probably very heavily influenced by what I was taught is the principle of separation of Church and State in the USA. That principle of separation seems to be under a great deal of strain at the moment, and I certainly find it hard to see its application in some of the recent state legislation I’ve read about. But again, I am guided by the axiom God is God and I am not. If God left us free will, who am to take it away?
But… If I do act as though I’m God and start filling in the spaces that God left to each individual to fill, it is not God’s fault. It is mine. Don’t blame God because I am an idiot. And please don’t blame me because some members of my religion are idiots. Let’s keep the personal responsibility that accompanies free will squarely on the individual, where it belongs.
Among the readers of Telling Knots are believers in at least three different religions, atheists, agnostics, and people for whom religion has no real place in their life at all. Most readers don’t comment, but I am really interested in hearing your thoughts and feelings about this post. Please take a couple of minutes to share your reactions.