If you’ve followed along here on Single Dad Laughing, you know that I left my religion a couple years back and that I have some very strong feelings about the way different religious dynamics affect our ability to be happy.
If you’ve really followed along, you probably also understand that my message is not anti-religious at all, but rather is pro-happiness and pro-love. I just think that being anti-anything doesn’t really fix much at all.
I think there are some who believe my message is anti-religious just because I discuss how I have found it difficult to attain happiness and love inside of religion. But that’s just me. I know plenty of others for whom the opposite is true.
And, in the past two years I’ve really watched people on both sides of the religious fence. I’ve watched myself and the way I feel about certain things or the way I interact with others. It has all been very eye-opening.
To me it seems that there are two very different kinds of people inside of religion, and there are also two very different kinds of people outside of religion.
Inside of religion, there are the people who use religion to continually better themselves. And, there are the people who use religion to make themselves better than others.
Outside of religion, there are those who continually work on bettering themselves. And, there are those who strive to find every way that they are better than others.
If you rewind any religion far enough, you will find flaws. If you want to, you will find ways that the religion couldn’t possibly be true. You will find fault with the organization, the record keeping, the leadership, and whatever else.
Likewise, if you rewind any religion far enough, you will find beauty. If you want to, you will find ways that the religion can be true. You will find good reasons for the flaws that exist, and those flaws won’t matter to you.
Take, for example, the Mormon church. The church I was born into and tried to live and believe for the first 29 years of my life.
If I rewind far enough, there are serious flaws with the founding of the religion and in its leadership. There are serious discrepancies with the founder Joseph Smith. There were practices (many of which aren’t required anymore) that seem bizarre and wrong to me. There was bigotry and misogynism and even more serious things like murder going on.
Also, if I rewind to the beginning, there is beauty. There is beauty in the story of the pioneers and the great faith that this group of people showed to the point of often laying down their own lives for their cause. There was beauty in the sacrifices they made for their beliefs. There was beauty in the sicknesses and overwhelming challenges that they had to overcome to live what they wanted to live.
But does any of that really matter in the greater discussion? Not to me. Early church history had nothing to do with me leaving the church. At all. In fact, I avoided that discussion like the plague because I knew that both sides were always going to present very biased versions of history, and I didn’t want that tainting my decisions. Instead, I looked at what the church is now and who the people of the church really are.
In many ways, the current Mormon church aligns with other churches, and teaches a lot of incredible things. What almost every church teaches you about developing yourself is tested and proven.
Serve others. Love others. Befriend others. Be a champion for the underdog. Meditate or pray. Sing. Be humble. Be kind. Work on yourself continually.
But what I seem to notice is that to many members of all faiths, that paragraph gets personally re-written to look like this:
Serve others when it’ll make you look good. Love others if they’re living exactly how you think they should live. Befriend others if there is benefit to you in doing so. Be a champion for the recognition that comes with it. Pray about the truth you are presented but never question it. Sing what we allow you to sing. Appear to be humble. Appear to be kind. Appear to be perfect continually.
And, there are many in that group who take it a collosal step further, and rewrite that paragraph for themselves to make it look like this: