…to be right all the time and know all of the answers. Sorry but I can’t accept that as a way of life – I hugely respect all those who do and can, but it’s not for me.
The reason I bring it up is that a student today asked me my thoughts on the Gay Marriage Bill that passed in Scotland last week. When I said I thought it was long overdue he looked at me and told me he disagreed because he was a Christian. This lead to him interrupting throughout the class to try engage me in a serious discussion on the subject – which of course I managed in between going for cheap laughs. (Well captive audience, you can’t really blame me.) I asked if he accepted the Bible as a whole or was selective in his belief and he flip-flopped back and forth trying to prove me wrong talking about right and wrong, sins, commandments, Old Testament vs. New Testament – he wasn’t giving up and in the end I had to stop him from speaking as I was getting genuinely angry with him and his immovable (though self-contradictory) position.
It’s not my place to tell people what to believe and I know many people who have their own set of beliefs – some based in religions others in philosophies from different cultures. I think it’s a fascinating subject but my biggest issue with it is the fact that they are completely unwilling to consider, even for a moment, that there might be flaws in their doctrine or question that should legitimately be asked. I always thought faith was about asking those questions but still believing despite uncertainties. I’m not looking for them to denounce their faith, just to accept that other people have other opinions and that they may have a point occasionally. This was the thing that turned me off the church as a youngster.
I was made to go to Sunday School each week, I’ve read the Bible – not in order, but I have read it (doesn’t end well) – so I’m not speaking from a position of ignorance, but the certainty of some in the church scared me. I am someone who likes to think and consider the world around them and I cannot accept that there aren’t alternatives in life otherwise we’d live in a fatalistic society devoid of expression, creativity and individuality. I know Christians and other religions would claim that God made us to do that but you cannot have a God who is all powerful and at the same time have the ability to disprove many elements of his word through science, technology, art, philosophy, literature and humanity. The fixed minds are also an issue in that in the 1700 – 2000 years since the putting together of the Bible as we know it the world is a very different place and much of what was written is no longer applicable to our society of today.
And it’s not just me. People are voting with their feet and pens by not going to church and not ticking the “Christian” box on the census – there were more Jedis across the UK than we thought too. Why? Is it because of this unmoving theology? Or is it that we are finding out answers to the questions we have about life through the leaps in our understanding of science and biology through technology? Maybe the fact that we understand that right and wrong are not the only two possible options available and the authority through fear approach of the church no longer works on an educated and aware population? I almost don’t trust those who constantly want to update the Bible though because they are moving further from the origins of the faith, but without moving they will find themselves at odds with the world in which we live – I have a great deal of sympathy for their position.
Is religion relevant anymore in our society? Yes of course it is, for individuals to have the ability of choice, faith and hope we’d be foolish to deny access to those things. By the same token we live in a democracy and with things like Gay Marriage finally becoming legal here in Scotland with the overwhelming support of the population and their representatives, those with strongly held religious beliefs need to realise that we no longer live in a country that the church has as much influence over and the more they fight progression, the less respect their views will receive.