By: Rosemary Dewar
Agreeing to a plan or arrangement with no consideration for the outcome is without a doubt unwise. Our culture has adopted this post-modern habit of acquiescing to fatalistic ideas without calculating the cost of its affect on society. The religious community is just as responsible for perpetuating this frailty, as is the secular community.
Historically, an army would surrender on the grounds of mutual standards of engagement. The aim of surrendering without the hope of outliving the conflict while in the custody of your enemy is counterproductive. If there were no hope of survival, one would more likely choose to die fighting. Therefore, the term “unconditional surrender,” as was used at the end of WWII, was agreed to with the hope that the conquered would be treated mercifully by the conqueror(s). Such was the case with Germany and Japan, who are now thriving.
By contrast, the word “unconditional” is used rather flippantly in conjunction with the word “love.” Both the religious and secular communities are culpable for the irresponsible use of this concept. The Judeo-Christian model of God is that He simply does not change. Although God is not affected by the lack of adherence to His precepts by those who claim to follow Him, this does not correlate with the idea that what He offers is unconditional. God promises He will not change, and a follower agrees to obey based on this promise. I couldn’t conjure a more conditional relationship if I tried. When Evangelical Christians reduce the consciousness of redemption to “just a relationship,” they seem to ignore that relationships are also built on rules. That is what a covenant is. If you are going to equate the religious experience with a marriage covenant, you better be prepared to sacrifice much of yourself. It is anything but unconditional.
Once the weightiness of the religious experience is understood, it becomes easier to understand why intellectual secularists hesitate to entertain anything resembling a religious practice. Consciousness, whether one is a believer or a secularist must inevitably be sacrificed. In addition, true redemption can only occur when something dies in order for something untainted to take its place. Can you imagine surrendering the very idea that defines you? It is a scary experience that can and will shake you to your core. Christian ideologues present it as a request when in reality, it is a command.
Once you give up a behavior that hurts you, it is imperative to adopt an ideology that will support and reward the positive change. The Judeo-Christian life unapologetically acknowledges that there are rules and even commands. They should not be seen as limitations of rewards, but support systems that make that reward easier to obtain.
Evangelical Christians assert that “the Law” is obsolete after salvation. I can’t think of a time you need elevated standards more than when you realize you either have low standards or you had no standards at all. What you do and how you act matters.
Russian author Fyodor Dostoyevsky presented in his The Brothers Karamazov that how you choose to live your life while interacting with society is more important than one’s ability to say they simply believe something on a spiritual or metaphysical plane. What one believes should and will have influence on the behavior that is exercised.
Reason ought to never be divorced from religious expression. Whenever it is, there is no active structure that produces valuable incentives. A relationship with a divine being is as conditional as a relationship would be with a friend, a brother, or a lover. Violation of that dependability has consequences. Be ready to reconcile those occurrences, because they are inevitable.
The law always kills something. It can either kill what harms you, or it will kill that which can save you.
By: Rosemary Dewar