A Voice in the Wilderness
WHAT DO YOU KNOW
IN YOUR HEART TO BE TRUE?
A few days ago I placed a question in this space. I invited visitors here to respond to this query: “What does God want?” Then I asked some other questions in which I repeated some statements that I have heard from others.
I asked, “Is it true, for instance, that every Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu, Jew, and Baha’i’ is going straight to hell upon their death? Is it true that a 2-day-old baby will be denied entry into heaven and reunion with God if that baby is not baptized? Is it true that God says women should to be subservient to men, and that wives must obey their husbands? It is true that God wants people to love each other, but wants people of the same sex who love each other to never marry, or demonstrate their love for each other in a physical or sexual way, and that God will punish with everlasting damnation any person who does? It is true that God wants us to understand that God’s love can turn to wrath if we do not do what God wants?”
Nearly all of the people who people who commented below failed to address these specific questions. Many offered their conclusion, some in roundabout ways, that they did not think that God, as God really is, was accurately or widely understood by the majority of people. But I was intrigued by one response in particular, this from a reader posting as “Jethro”, who offered this: “When I was still a very young child, I heard that all religions other than the one I was in was doomed to hell. Other Christians were going to hell. So it applied to other denominations too, not just other religions. One of my first thoughts about people and God was believing that something must be misunderstood. I was a child and thought this. One thought that followed me into adulthood is, how can I be more compassionate than God? I don’t think I am, so there must be something wrong with the information I received.”
It will be a long time before I forget that question…if I ever do. I think Jethro drove right to the heart of the matter. As I look at some of the things that billions of people believe about what God wants, I now find myself asking this simple, pure question of a child: How can I be more compassionate than God?
Of course, there are billions of people who think that God does want every Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu, Jew, and Bahá’í to go straight to hell upon their death. There are billions of people who think that God does want a 2-day-old baby to be denied entry into heaven and reunion with God if that baby is not baptized. There are billions of people who think that God does want women to be subservient to men, and wives to obey their husbands. There are billions of people who think that God does want people of the same sex who love each other and marry, or demonstrate their love for each other in a physical or sexual way, to be punished with everlasting damnation. And there are billions of people who think that God does want us to understand that God’s love can turn to wrath if we do not do what God wants.
And so it would appear that there are billions of people who are not “more compassionate than God,” but every bit as lacking in compassion as they believe God is.
They would not say that God is lacking in compassion, however. They would say that it is a sign of God’s compassion to treat people in this way, allowing them to know the laws, and be subjected to the conditions, of Perfect Justice in Heaven.
Justice, they say, is being rewarded or punished based on one’s behaviors in Earthly life—as those behaviors relate to what it is that God commands, demands, and wants.
And there are those who believe that one’s behaviors in Earthly life don’t matter — that even the worst human behaviors will be forgiven and forgotten if one comes to God through the right doorway, and that even the best of one’s behaviors will be totally, completely, and utterly ignored, accounting for nothing and meaning nothing, if one does not come to God through the right doorway.
Is this how it is in the Kingdom of Heaven? That is the question that has been facing humankind for thousands of years.
What do you think? What do you believe? What do you know in your heart to be true?