So why do we do it? And why do we seem to do it so often in a religious setting. What is it about us humans, that makes us so susceptible to giving away our liberty, individuality, creativity, dignity, gifts, talents and intellectual capacities. What is it that causes us to distrust ourselves, our own capacity to choose, to act rationally, to walk with personal integrity, or to follow Jesus out of our own hearts. What is it that seems even more important to us than even all of these precious things? What is it that we seem to crave/need so much, that we are willing to pay such a high price?
I think THE, something for which we would, and do give away our freedom is- SECURITY. And we do it through FEAR. I'll give you a simple example taken from a religious sect I am familiar with. If I told you you were not allowed to have more than six people from your church in your home at any one given time, you'd probably say that was ridiculous.You'd probably say something like- "Nobody has the right to take away my freedom to associate with however many people I want to in my own home." But what about if I told you that over the years whenever larger groups of people gathered, strange and erroneous doctrines seem to emerge and a lot of people had fallen away from the faith and are now bound for eternity in hell. Suddenly in your mind there is a trade off emerging. Yes you love your freedom, but hey you'd rather give up big dinner parties than go to hell. Sadly security means more to most of us than freedom. So we trade off a piece of our freedom for the security of knowing our eternal destiny is "secure".
Religious leaders aren't the only ones who exploit our desire for security. As the cartoon on the left shows, after the 9/11 attacks on the U.S.A, Americans were willing to give up many of their civil LIBERTIES for greater homeland SECURITY. Whether it's politics or religion , if you want to take away some aspect of someones freedom just promise them that whatever they're agreeing to will ultimately make them more secure. But since for many people their eternal security is of utmost importance, religious sects have spawned a particularly insidious breed of what I call "underground bunker salesmen".
FOR SALE - Underground BunkerWould you like to buy and live in an underground bunker? One with no windows or access to the outside world? One which is so small that movement within it is quite restricted? What about if living in it meant you would be virtually cut off from family and friends? What if taking up residence in it meant many of your dreams, including perhaps higher education, a fulfilling career, or a move interstate or overseas would become impossible? What if even after you'd paid for it, and virtually given up everything and everybody to live in it, an ongoing 10% tax was imposed on you; just for the privilege of continuing to reside there. Given current world events almost no one would be beating down the doors to our underground bunker selling business.
But what if I could produce for you "credible" evidence that a nuclear strike against our nation was only days, weeks, or months away. Given this type of future scenario, perfectly sane, well adjusted, educated and rational people, would suddenly deem virtually everything in, and about their lives, very expendable; just to own the SECURITY of the bunker.
Most institutional religion and really all fundamentalist sects are in the underground bunker selling business. They produce "credible" "evidence", and create such dangerous future scenarios that the deep need within most of us for security goes into overdrive. The fear factor causes many to sell off virtually everything just to posses the security promised by these religious underground bunker salesmen. Living in an underground bunker may not be great but it's better than frying in a nuclear holocaust with all those "unwise" people out there. So often in religious sects, family, friends, dreams, aspirations, careers, passions, are all traded away for the promise of eternal security.
Questions that lead to a QUEST.Ever noticed that the first four letters of the word Question spell- QUEST ?
Quest: noun. - a search for an alternative that meets cognitive criteria. e.g- the answer HAS to make sense!
For Superman it's kryptonite, for vampires it's a cross, for religious sect leaders it's THE QUESTION. There's NO-thing more feared in a controlling sect environment than- the question. Especially a question that demands an answer that makes cognitive sense. I believe God was serious when directed us to love Him with- "all your heart, with all your soul, WITH ALL YOUR MIND, and with all your strength" Mark 12: 30. But how can you love something with your "ALL YOUR MIND" if its nonsensical, crazy, erroneous, or simply- religious crap?
Although even the strictest of religious sects tolerate some degree of questioning, (especially from someone newly come to the group), one thing you can never do is question the "answer". My experience was, you may be permitted to question the groups view or stance on certain issues, but what you can never question is their "answer" regarding those views. For example- There's a religious sect I'm familiar with that forbids, (by penalty of excommunication), a member of the group moving away from the locality in which they joined the group. You can of course question the groups view on moving. I did, and the "answer" I was given was- "Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called" 1 Corin 7:20 KJV. What they went on to explain to me was that you should remain in the calling/state you were in when you joined the group. A resident of Geelong, REMAINS a resident of Geelong FOREVER. Of course even a cursory glance at the surrounding verses (the context) shows us that although the verses in question are considering many issues ,( including circumcision and slavery*), the place you choose to reside is certainly not one of them. It took me many years to summon up the courage, but once I did, I realised that although the truth does set a person free, so does the persistent questioning religious crap "answers"
*An an interesting sidebar to the thought of someone abiding- "in the same calling wherein he was called". We should consider that although Paul did offer that advice in verse 20, in the case of slavery he goes on to say in verse 21- "although if you can gain your freedom, do so" TNIV. So it wasn't a hard and fast rule/law. A person was able to change their "calling". or state.
If it looks like crap and sounds like crap......it's probably crap.
"It is error only, and not truth, that shrinks from inquiry" Thomas Paine