How do you envision God? Do we humans build our conception of God in our own image (anthropomorphism)? In other words, do we project on to God our own likes and dislikes?
concepts of God
Conceptions of God (including those “revealed”) include the fearsome as in an old, angry, warlike, Semitic, tribal (chauvinistic) god (the god of the Jews and of the Muslims); the loving as in a caring, deeply concerned with humanity, God (Jesus, who tempers the harshness and justice of the Father with love and mercy)*; the many and diverse as in polytheistic conceptions of multiple gods and goddesses with their respective powers and domains; the impersonal as in pantheistic ideas that identify God with the powers or forces of nature; and various primitive and crude animistic systems of belief. Polytheism, pantheism and animism can be lumped together for our purposes here and simply termed paganism. Atheism constitutes a null set, but is a faith for atheists (as the assertion that God does not exist is a statement of faith).
* People are correct to be God-fearing, but does God desire that we be in a perpetual state of terror? I think not.
(We are quite familiar with the fact that during the past several decades there has been much interest in the West for Eastern religions. For the sake of brevity and because our target audience is the postmodern West, we are going to omit discussion of Eastern conceptions of God. We note in passing that the personal versus impersonal nature dichotomy is found in Hinduism. The interested reader can make use of the search box on our blog site to find our many posts on Eastern religions.)
redefining God in the post-modern West
The redefinition of God into various forms of polytheism, pantheism and Neopaganism in recent years appears to be driven by the moral crisis in the lives of many individuals. Stick with me now. There are those who reject God and traditional religion and morality (for the West this means Christianity). Like misbehaving children, they do not like being corrected, or told they are wrong in living their shallow, self-absorbed, hedonistic, spiritually immature lives. God’s commandments are mostly intended to protect us humans from ourselves and our self-destructive tendencies. God is offended when we selfishly and needlessly harm others and/or harm ourselves.
The moral crisis for many individuals centers around their understanding of themselves (self-image) and their desire for what they mistakenly think to be freedom, but is actually a counterfeit for true freedom, namely licentiousness. True freedom requires personal responsibility for one’s choices and actions. These individuals desire to live a sexually hedonistic, promiscuous lifestyle and they see traditional morality as a barrier or obstacle to this lifestyle. (This should not come as a surprise given the over-sexualization of the culture since the mid 1960s.) They do not want the cognitive dissonance, or the possible guilt, that goes along with their chosen behaviors. To get around this problem, they seek to redefine morality by redefining who or what God is. After all, Christianity tells the world that it has a God-given moral code. For many, the escape from moral responsibility comes by believing that God is really many gods and goddesses who are equally frivolous and approve of one’s hedonism. For others, God is just the totality of nature and the universe. Either way, one rejects the idea of moral absolutes, and descends into moral relativism if not moral nihilism.
There are some persons who will scapegoat Christianity for all the terrible injustices present in today’s world and for many past atrocities. They rationalize their rejection of Christian morality by pointing out the failings of Christianity. The fault, dear readers, does not lie with the Christian principles, but rather with people who claimed to be Christian but who failed to live the principles. As G. K. Chesterton lamented: “Christianity was found difficult and left untried.”
We do not observe or find many married heterosexuals who totally identify themselves with their sexuality, or allow their sexuality to define them. Their loving sexual relationship with their spouse is very important in their married lives, yes, but it does not define them as individuals. Their entire personality does not flow from their sexuality, nor is their personality somehow seriously limited or constrained by their heterosexual monogamy.
We cannot say the same for those who fall under the umbrella of LGBTQX . . . (what will the next letter to be added be, and what will it stand for?). Many of these individuals – at least those who are vocal, in your face (militant), and wear their sexuality on their sleeves so to speak – do appear to define themselves by their sexuality, even when they are confused as to just what their sexual nature really is. And, they want, even insist that society at large validate their sexuality, and that is why they are so vocal on a continuing, persistent basis.
Are we not, as humans, more than our primal sexual urges, more than our potent sex hormones flowing in our bloodstream, more than our aroused sex organs? A person stuck at the bodily level of consciousness, in honesty, might have to answer in the negative.
And, what of tolerance today? Is not tolerance just another word for ambivalence, or apathy? We must be “tolerant” of each and every pressure group that marches down main street and shrieks for their “right(s)” to do whatever they wish. Even moral evils are proclaimed as rights! (How tolerant ought we be, must we be?!) But, now people choose to deny or ignore the fact that rights, true rights and not counterfeits, come from God, not from governments.
What is that you say? I need to visit the Museum of Tolerance to gain greater understanding and compassion? Sorry, but I already have plans for the weekend.
What will they chisel on to your headstone, or write on your urn: “He/she had a lot of good times.” or “He/she fought the good fight trying to make this miserable world a better place.” ?!
Do you care?
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