Sjolander Road Fellowship




Declaring the God of Unconditional Love

unethical religion

1/13/14

 

In my early adulthood, I drifted away from my religious upbringing, not unlike many young people. After a number of years of what I would call agnosticism, I became interested in the church again, when I faced being a parent for the first time.

 

I suspect my religious/spiritual path is similar to that of many people. The skepticism of youth gives way to the realization that parenting requires that we instill ethical standards in our children- guiding principles which will allow them to function in society and deal with others in a reasonable manner. My return to organized religion was not driven by concern for my eternal destiny; it resulted from ethical considerations.

 

My experience highlights what is a missed point of emphasis in too many church environments. A considerable number of young adults come to the church, seeking first and foremost a sound, workable ethical basis for their lives and the instruction of their children. Unfortunately, what they encounter within institutional religion is often a very questionable sense of what is ethical. So much of Christian Orthodoxy describes a deity who does not operate ethically, supposedly consigning vast numbers of humanity to unspeakable torment, largely because of happenstance. Then in its constant fault finding, doctrinal nitpicking, and inherent self-righteousness, the church encourages very hurtful behaviors among its membership, even in their relationship with one another. This is hardly the atmosphere that aids young parents in raising their children with a proper ethical perspective. A wrathful, vindictive, arbitrary God is not a good role model for children or adults.

 

This observation explains why many young people complain so often about the church being irrelevant to their daily lives. Daily living is a constant ethical challenge. Ethics are about managing human relationships and that is the very substance of human life. A religious experience which does not provide a workable, reasonable ethical system is a failure at the most basic level.

 

Institutional Christianity claims to provide that system with its Ten Commandments and doctrinal requirements. However, a list of "thou shalt nots" and steps to salvation doesn't cut it when coupled with all the associated negative baggage. People probably know that good ethics are hard to live by, so they don't expect ethical living to be easy. That doesn't mean that they must struggle to accept that behaving badly can be good ethically.