Sunday, April 6, 2014
From time to time I hear someone say that religious people are not free. I hear that we are bound by commandments and rules as if we have no choise or mind of our own. I hear that we are of the same mold suggesting that no difference in opinion or personality is accepted.
Today I wish to make clear that all these conserns or accusations, while to a degree understandable and sometimes "reasonable", when understood in the light of the principle of agency - a moral freedom to act and make decisions - they become empty.
Yes, God has given us many commandments. For many they seem to limit my possibilities to do and be what I want. Let me ask: Does knowledge of laws of nature or cultural norms and rules of societies limit your freedom to act or be according to you conscience? No, they do not. Those who want to defy them do it. Breaking the commandments of God is no different. Those who want to defy the eternal moral laws do it regardless of them being members of a church or not. They also must take the consequences that come included in the deal.
We have a natural ability to think, reason, draw conclusions and make decisions. God has placed us in circumstances where we are forced to use this ability. He has given us knowledge of principles that contribute to the happiest and most balanced way of life. When He did that, He gave us a possibility to choose what to do. He does not force us to do anything. He does encourage, remind, warn and give reasons through feelings, thoughts, other people and our environment.
Nothing or nobody has a right or power to deprive us from our agency. No one, besides ourselves. Our decisions take us to two directions. They either allow us room to act as we please or they limit our possibilities to act. You may think of an imprisoned criminal, addict, or a liar as examples.
Parents, teachers and leaders sometimes fail to teach of these principles in a way they should be taught. Instead of teaching what, why and how, they make these principles seem arbitrary and superficial. In some cases obedience is reached with force and fear which is the exact opposite of how God wants it to be. I have met and heard of individuals who have abandoned God or His teachings because someone failed to teach as God, our Father, would have us teach - that is with love, care, encouragement, warning, explaining and with reasons.
When principles - no matter if they are laws, norms or commandments - are learned the arbitrary and superficial way, they make no sense. Blind faith, to do "just because" or mere tradition are not fair nor healthy foundations for discipleship or citizenship of an individual. When a principle is founded on real reasons known by an individual the principle becomes a tool, a power or a gate to growth, rather than a burden and a limitation.
Ultimately the responsibility of understanding the commandments of God is up to each individual themselves. It saddens me when a person does not get the teaching and guidance he or she deserves. If You do not get the answers from who ever your source is, look for it somewhere else by yourself. I am a firm believer that if one sincerely and with intent to act accordingly wants to find truth, one will find it. Therefore I encourage all regardless of faith or creed to study the principles of their lives and learn the why and how in them.
I live according to my conscience. I live how I live because I want to live this way. I am who I am and I don't try to be anyone else. What ever I do and choose has consequences. I cannot choose the consequence but I can choose what I do. I can choose to follow a commandment and enjoy it's blessings or I can choose not to and suffer the lack of those blessings and a consequense of disobedience.
Following the commandments does not strip us of personality. Me, my Love, my parents, rest of my family, my friends and their friends all are different. And let's not even start when we travel to different cultures. The people are very different from States to Finland continuing to India and China and further to South-America. The people are different but the faith and commandments stay forever the same. They direct our actions and morals to a unified direction. But to say that living according to the same principles would create a homogenous collection of personalities is rather far fetched. Up to this day I have not met a person who is exactly same as someone else in their personality and opinions.
As a conclusion I want to turn my attention to You who feels that the commandments that have been taught to you are as I mentioned earlier arbitrary and superficial. You are looking for more because you do not feel satisfied with the reasons you have received.
First Do not feel negative feelings towards whoever has given you weak reasons. Forgive that person. Not everyone knows and sometimes those who know are blinded by pride or fear and because of that they are unable to teach as they should.
Second Keep the flame of searching burning. Do not let it die. Christ taught that those who seek will find and to those that knock the door will be opened. Giving up is the last mistake you want to do. Truth is there and it is worth all efforts.
Third Don't be afraid of questions or conserns. Don't be afraid to re-evaluate your values, morals, standards and knowledge. Be critical not sceptical. Be smart and careful. Not every one with answers has good intentions. Christ again has taught us to be aware of false prophets.
Fourth Be patient. The answers are not necessarily where you first look for them. Later when you find it, it may not first seem like you found it. Give it time and see the fruits of it.
Fifth In all things turn to God who is the source of all truth. God is our Father. He desires us to have the truth - the knowledge and understanding of things how they really are. He wants to be an active part of our lives and allowing Him to guide us along our journey is of utmost importance.