Godliness & Forced Religion -- They Cannot Coexist

As an emanation of holiness our souls are naturally tied to God and long to be one with His oneness.

It therefore follows that we do not need to be compelled to bathe in His light.

In fact, it's just the opposite.

We innately seek out His presence.

Without God in our lives, we fall into depression. Despair.

Without a higher presence overseeing all that goes on, the suffering of this world is incomprehensible.

Without the knowledge that there is an end to all of it, that justice will eventually occur, how can one even function?

The answer is this: Without God, all there is, is nothingness. As it says in Genesis, before God created the world it was "without form," meaning that no physical thing was distinguishable from any other thing. It was also "void," meaning that there was no substance to it, no meaning in it -- nothing.

Many years ago I went to the Lubavitcher Rebbe for a blessing. I was the type of person people called "intense," and while that is still true, I also had a tendency toward depression. He blessed me to have good cheer. Though life is never perfect, that blessing largely stayed with me.

When you see the world through depressed eyes, everything looks bleak. Everything looks meaningless. It's actually painful to recall, and it's something I'd rather not think about, because I never, ever want to go back there.

For me, faith in God is the antidote for depression. I know there is meaning in the world. God animates us. God is what makes things work.

The antidote of formlessness and the void, is faith.

In just the same way as the body gasps and dies without oxygen, our souls literally cannot breathe without that connection to God.

So it is misguided for any religion to try and force faith on its children. I know intellectually that several things lead to the attempt. Number one, there is the belief that evil is tempting. And so one must brainwash ("indoctrinate" a.k.a. "teach") children the right values so that they don't fall victim too easily.

Another, less positive issue is that people in power tend to want to stay in power. They therefore promulgate the notion that they have a special knowledge about how one should conduct oneself at all times so as to be "good with God."

As such, innocent people, who sincerely desire to walk in His way, become susceptible to being "led," and "leadership" at some point becomes "force." Both women and men suffer from this kind of spiritual leadership.

As a Jew who was raised in the context of Orthodoxy, I understand and believe that God gave us the Torah as a very clear roadmap to morality. I believe that God rewards the good people and punishes the bad people as well.

However, I do not believe that God ever wanted or intended for religious leaders to "weaponize" the Torah so as to oppress their fellow Jewry. (And it follows that the same would hold true for members of other religions.)

Here's to the day when we let people express their spirituality naturally, and when religious leaders view themselves as enablers of that natural human need, rather than becoming obstacles.

We don't need corrupt leaders, in any religion, who add unnecessary obstacles and complexity, so as to create a role for themselves that otherwise would not exist.

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Copyright 2017 by Dr. Dannielle Blumenthal. All opinions are Dr. Blumenthal's own. All rights reserved. Photo by basker_dhandapani via Pixabay (CC0 Creative Commons).

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