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Saturday, December 03, 2022
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Pitfalls To Faith

Up until age 12, faith was a no-brainer. My parents, with the help of my godmother, raised me to be a devout Catholic, and I never really questioned much about religion. Then came junior high school and I was unhappy with society, uncomfortable with myself, and wholly suspicious of adults and the moral system they tried so diligently to bestow (or should I say impose) upon me.

Now in my adult life, God and I have reconciled, and I thought I would be able to easily maintain our new relationship for the remainder of my college career.

Needless to say, it hasn't quite worked out that way.

The average college lifestyle frequently comes into conflict - directly or indirectly - with the Christian way of life. While the Bible does not prohibit "drinking," per se, it does explicitly oppose "drunkenness." In addition, Paul's gospel shows how God frowns down upon premarital sex, an activity in which many college students (including myself) frequently engage in.

Granted, there are a lot of rules in the Bible that are not widely practiced by many Christians today, such as keeping Kosher and forcing a woman to leave town every time she gets her period or keeping Kosher. I believe man's inability to diligently follow every line of the law is what made Christ's birth and his forgiveness necessary, but I still don't think "golden rules" such as "thou shalt not kill" are any less valid after 1 A.D. than as they were before then.

College students, and college itself, are somewhat of a paradox. While college is supposed to be a place of acceptance and understanding, where new ideas can be discussed openly regardless of ideology, I've found that very few people hesitate to refer to Christians as "preachy," God forbid they choose to open their mouths about their faith.

I can't count how many times I've heard someone say that "organized religion" is nothing more than a tactic used to control the masses. But when considering the "play now, worry later" attitude that most 20-somethings subscribe to, it's no wonder mere mention of the name "God" makes many students uncomfortable.

Faith does require accountability to a power that is greater than one self. It's knowing that no matter how intelligent one is, human beings sometimes make stupid mistakes and need to rely upon God for guidance through prayer. Some people mistake this notion for religion-imposed "guilt," but it's free will at its finest hour: People are responsible for the choices they make and simply ignoring morality in favor of personal pleasure has potentially dangerous consequences. It is up to the individual to decide who knows best - himself/herself or God.

When I corresponded via e-mail with Seth Orsborn, president of UB for Christ, he stated, "Some people feel that Christians are full of judgment or are just busy trying to convert people." In this respect, like Orsburn, I've never believed myself to be in a position to throw stones at anyone else. If I did, I'm sure there would be another pile nearby with my name on it. Besides, I never thought so highly of myself that I would actually have the ability to "convert" someone.

In light of the Catholic Church pedophilia scandal, the public and the media had no qualms about openly criticizing the Church and its doctrine. In that case, criticisms are important and necessary, because they force people to try to educate themselves about a religion's doctrine, form educated opinions and come to terms with their faith.

However, it seems that if I, as a Christian, found fault with the practices or scripture of another religion and were to critique it outside of the privacy and trust of my home and family, I don't doubt there would be many people on hand to refer to me as "hateful" and "intolerant."

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I think that much of this comes from the fact that because Christianity is the dominant religion of the United States, it is all too easy for people to assume they know everything there is to know about it without having to dig a bit deeper; namely, without actually picking up a copy of the Bible and reading it.

Of course, reading scripture comes with its own challenges; specifically, how one is to interpret what he or she studies from the Bible. Much to my surprise, Orsburn informed me that a lot of the ostracizing he receives regarding his faith comes from Christians of other sects. I thought that issue had long since died after the 100 Years War.

"A common problem among Christians is that many think that they have it all correct and that anyone that doesn't completely agree with them must be a heretic," Orsborn stated. "Fortunately, God looks upon our heart, not on whether all of our doctrine is exactly perfect."

It doesn't make sense that if Christians are to frown upon those who pass unfair judgment on us or other people in general, that we would be so harsh and critical of one another. Referring back to my point, debating interpretation is not wrong - we have brains, why not use them? But calling someone a "heretic" is.

In the end, the best thing about faith is that it is a choice, one that everyone, regardless of ideology, is forced to make on a regular basis. One can choose to live with faith or live without it. In this respect, pitfalls to faith are merely challenges put before me that force me to renew that choice time and time again.



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