While in a counseling session recently with a young couple, one of them was heard to say that they really have a problem with organized religion. That got me thinking.
Sometimes I have a problem with organized religion, too. And I am a licensed and ordained pastor. The truth is that many horrible things have been done in the name of religion throughout history. Wars, corruption, abuse—the list goes on.
And the list of evil is really enough to turn anyone away from an organization that has perpetrated such heinous acts.
On the other hand, organized religion is also responsible for numerous acts of love and kindness that have improved the human condition. Most churches have outreach ministries that give back to both the local community as well as the global community.
Each year millions are fed, clothed, given shelter and medical care from religious organizations. Those less fortunate are cared for, counseled, and even given freedom from human trafficking. These actions do not make the headlines—they are not as newsworthy, but they do happen.
So organized religion can be horrible. And organized religion can be wonderful. It is so confusing. And if organized religion can be so hard to understand, then disorganized religion could only be worse!
What is the answer? What is one to think of religion? What really is religion? Let’s take a look at how a religion defines itself.
According to the New Testament, “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.” (James 1:27)
I suggest reading that statement multiple times to let it sink in. It seems that real religion is caring for those in society who most need help, and not living a corrupt life.
That seems quite clear. That is real religion.
And it would be wise to separate real religion from the poor choices of human beings throughout history.
Real religion is caring for others and living with integrity. If we did that, what would society be like? If leaders and politicians truly cared for others and lived with integrity, what would our world be like?
So who needs religion? I do. How about you?
I would love to hear your opinion at firstname.lastname@example.org.