We are in a time where a select few individuals are so dogmatic that if you don't follow their belief system, you are wrong and going to hell and etc, and so forth. It is sad because I don't think that makes people strong or a nation great. All it does is pit one group against the other.
In fact, these days the discussion in this country and world is how to stake your ground and then argue against the side that believes differently about you. It is not about listening to one another and advancing this world forward in a positive way. It is not about hearing each other out so we can learn from one another.
When I grew up, the sect of churches I went to was the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches (GARBC). Now these people could ostracize you quickly if you didn't adhere to their beliefs. All of their beliefs were backed up by scripture upon scripture verse found in the bible. They could argue with you for hours based upon the verses in the bible they knew.
Their beliefs included not going into a restaurant that served alcohol because if you did, your brother might think you were drinking and the individual would think that it was okay to drink. Then they would become an alcoholic. Even one drink of wine was forbidden because as they preached in this church, one drink meant you would become an alcoholic.
Their beliefs included that going to a dance for your senior prom was wrong and immoral and sinful. After all as they explained it, you would be having sex with someone if you danced with them. Try being a senior in high school and forbidden to go to one of the biggest nights of your life, because of beliefs. Of course we were taught that we were a "peculiar people" and were not meant to be like everyone else.
Their beliefs included not going to watch any movies in a theater because even if it was a cartoon or general rated movie, you were supporting the industry and that meant you were supporting the sex industry. However, it was okay for the minister to subscribe to and watch HBO at his house which we happened to stumble upon during a surprise visit.
Their beliefs included that if you went swimming at camp or any other place, you had to wrap a towel around your legs, wear a bathing suit that almost went to your knees and covered your upper half up with a shirt. Otherwise, if you didn't do that, you might be tempted to look at someone of the opposite sex with lust and then have sex with them. If you didn't look at them with lust, you might cause them to look at you with lust and then want to have sex with you. Never mind the fact that they often separated the boys from the girls when it came time for swimming.
Their beliefs included hearing almost on a weekly basis that if you didn't go to their particular denomination of churches, you were a sinner going to hell. There was no way you could get in to heaven. You were lost and that was that. I remember looking at my friends with disgust that they had chosen a church of heathens that was doomed to hell. We were taught that we were better than everyone else and of course, it was all backed up in the scripture verses of the bible.
Their beliefs included me not being able to play a song in church called "He", because it did not use the word "God" in it. I was told the song was immoral and wrong because it could be referring to any entity. I loved the song but was forbidden to play it. In my mind, it is clearly about God, but what do I know, I was just a sinner to them!
Beliefs were right or wrong, black or white. There was no in-between. There was no middle ground. You did not get to pick your interpretation of the beliefs. Yet, I saw a deacon in the church who loved Jesus so much, lock himself in his garage with his car running and go to meet Jesus in the sky. I saw and experienced rape and molestation by my own God-fearing family while they sang praises to Jesus in the church.
There was no way to talk to these people that held these beliefs. It was either subscribe to what they said and reference life from that point or be kicked out as sinners doomed to hell. This is exactly what I see going on these days. Everyone expects other people to follow their point of view and their beliefs. There is no room it seems for anything else.
My spirituality and beliefs are unlike most in this world. I see things differently. I don't often discuss them because I believe they are personal. I don't think it is up to me to scream at others that they are going to hell if they don't believe a certain way. I don't quite understand that philosophy in life anymore. I don't find it necessary to grandstand on the street corners in front of the cameras.
My life is what I choose it to be and I'm fine with how I believe and what I practice. I don't try to push my beliefs upon others, but I find it disturbing when others want to force me into their narrow view of life. My beliefs have come out of my own experiences and they have evolved.
If you see life only through your beliefs as being right, are you not showing disrespect to all other people? Are you not showing the opposite of what you preach? Are you not showing the opposite of love that you proclaim to adhere to?
You can get all legalistic and righteous and holier-than-thou, but what good does it do if you show so much hatred for your fellow man? If you don't think it is hatred, then you may want to take the log out of your own eye. It is not those that don't believe like you that are the problem.
It is time that we learn to come together as humans and truly find out what matters in our day. There is more than regurgitated beliefs that we are taught on Sundays and we forget on Monday. There is more to this world than politicizing our beliefs, thinking they should become the law of the land.
Who's to say your beliefs are right? After all, if you line up a million people, each would have a different set of beliefs and would each person be right? If everything thinks their beliefs are right and founded upon the Bible, then what is right or wrong? What is truth?
We all have to decide truth for ourselves, but we should not force upon others that which we feel we believe. They are our beliefs and they should be that way. Just because they are our beliefs, it does not mean that they should become the beliefs of all other humans. Our beliefs help us experience and understand life, but they should not necessarily be there to limit life.
Blog Post And Images (c) 9/6/15 by Don Shetterly
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