By Mike Edwards
I posted last week why we can’t seem to have discussions with others about politics if have a difference of opinion. See here. There are differences in the political and religion arena, but politicians and religious folks have many similarities when it comes to disagreeing.
Is the problem about power and control?
Some just aren’t prepared to defend their viewpoint or hearing disagreements may undermine what they have believed for a long time. They don’t seek to push their beliefs on others but many seek to influence because they assume their truth, or their interpretation of the Bible, is God’s truth. We know control and power are intoxicating and a part of human nature. Quashing dissent allows one to be more in control which happens to enable job security in the institution.
We can’t claim our truth is God’s truth
Religious folks hide behind their interpretation of a Book as politicians hide behind their interpretation of science. Opposing views are said to disagree with God or be immoral. But even if you believe the Bible is inspired by God, the Bible requires interpretation. We don’t all agree if the Bible opposes women priests or preachers or condemns gays. Not all scholars who believe in the inspiration of Scriptures agree that a literal Hell is a reality in the Bible.
Not even God imposes beliefs on others
One might think a God powerful enough to create may annihilate immediately those who oppose God by choosing evil. God hasn’t. God’s love in the Bible is frequently compared to that of a human parent. Why would God act any different than a loving parent? Human or spiritual parents bring children into the world hoping their children freely reciprocate their love for authentic relationships. Forced love is an oxymoron. God doesn’t seek to control beliefs through fear.
This doesn’t mean we can’t cooperate with God in intervening to make for a better world. Jesus’ good news wasn’t to believe or eventually be blown up in Hell. See here. Jesus only sought to encourage people to shun evil and do good for self-interest and the interest of others. Belief in freedom respects challenges. Meaningful, long-lasting change isn’t reached by controlling love.
There are absolute truths of course!
Certain absolutes are universal and obvious to all rational beings. Who doesn’t believe physical or sexual abuse is wrong? No reasonable God or non-God person doesn’t respect that we ought to treat others like we want to be treated. Criminals don’t defend their murders or thefts; instead, they deny committing such crimes. Adultery is only not wrong in the eyes of the betrayer. The Bible doesn’t make such offenses immoral. They are immoral due to our inborn sense of good and evil.
We must have rules for conflict
Continually evaluate the most loving approach is better than claiming certainty and being wrong. We must learn to respond not react over our differences. Look for areas to agree first. Both parties must seek to understand before being understood. Stop demonizing by moralizing. Handle differences with physical and verbal civility. Imagine the impact the religious could have if those who believe in God “walked the walk” when have differing opinions. God-followers must stop claiming their biblical view is morally superior among the religious or non-religious.
Mike Edwards has been writing for Done with Religion for some time and has been a great addition to the site. Mike also has his own site where he writes that can be found at What God May Really Be Like He can be contacted by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org