“…and so it is my Christian duty, in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior, to tell you that by marrying a Hindu, you will be unequally yoked and therefore going to HELL! Save your eternal soul now and convince him to convert to Christianity or end this unrighteous relationship now! I will pray for you!”
Good stuff, na? Apparently I am going to Hell. I’m glad I know this in advance as I shall know what to pack. Siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh.
I got this as an email to my blog a few days ago and ever since then I have been contemplating writing about it. But to be honest, I was just too damn mad. When I write, I always try to do it from the standpoint of being as non-judgmental and non-prejudice as possible. However, this email rendered that completely impossible. So I’ve been waiting to cool off. Waiting for a clearer head to appear. And you know what?
It’s not happening. I’m still angry.
So, I’m going to write and pray that I can keep too much anger out of this blog. I started this blog to help other people in similar circumstances, not to rant and rave.
Ok, so in that spirit and frame of mind…allow me to tell you a little bit about me.
Who am I and what are my experiences with religion?
I was raised just east of the Bible belt, in a religious town and a spiritual household. My mother is Catholic and my father is Brethren. My mother chose to attend Brethren church with my father and his family; however, she still held the principles of Catholicism dear to her heart and practiced these beliefs whenever possible. In the Brethren church, babies are not baptized unless the parents choose this. The general practice is to allow the child to grow and learn and experience and then to decide to be baptized on their own. My parents choose that route.
So, I was never baptized in the church. I still have not been baptized, although I have contemplated it. We do not study Revelations in the Brethren church (or at least, not in the one I attended) because for us, Revelations was a punishment and my pastor believed that we should be taught the love, understanding and acceptance of God and Christ rather than the punishment for NOT believing. He once told me,
“I want you to come to God and follow his principles because it’s the right thing to do, not because you fear being punished. Faith is a journey, not a guilt trip”.
When I later asked him what he thought of other religions, he told me that all ways are a path to God and all people have a right to choose them, just so long as they come. So you see, I was not raised in an atmosphere of “us” against “them”. I was given the permission and tools to learn of any religion I wished to learn. So I studied Judaism, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism and the Latihan of Subud. But because man’s words kept getting in the way of God’s words, I was never satisfied with any of the organized religions that I studied. Oh, I very much liked our Brethren church, but I believe my church and pastor were one of a kind…as I never found that again in any other church.
So, what is my religion?
I don’t have one. I guess you could say I’m spiritual without being religious. Or perhaps it’s that I practice all the ‘good parts’ versions of the religions that I have studied.
What do I believe?
I believe that we all have the right to believe what we want to believe. I believe that there is a God and he can do whatever he wants to do…if he wants to reincarnate on earth…then he does. If he wants to destroy it and then re-make it…then he can. If he wants to give us profits and seers…then he will. If God wanted to use science and evolution as a tool…then who am I to question that?
Ask yourself this, do you think God gave us free-will and then expected us to blindly follow rules that may or may not apply to us? Contradictory rules? Atrocious rules?
I don’t believe this. What I DO believe is that God gave me free-will, a sound mind and a pure soul and then asked me to go out into the world and live a good and prosperous life. I believe that he wanted me to question things. I believe that he wanted me to investigate and learn. I believe that he wants me to do the right thing because it’s the right thing and not because I will receive the reward of heaven. I believe that God wants me to love and respect my fellow man. Essentially, I believe that God created me in his image. An image that was curious, investigative, loving, and good. Do I believe that God put me here to blindly follow one religion, close my eyes to the world around me and pass judgment on all who are different from me? Absolutely not.
The person who sent me that email is blind to all other things outside of what she knows. And to be quite honest, is probably blind to what God wants from her as well.
And organized religion does not stop its prejudice at the door of other religions. Nooo, no,no. It carries on to other cultures, to politics, to science. Organized religion says only I am right and all else is wrong. So called devout followers of the peace loving Jesus Christ are the same devout followers who would judge me right into hell.
What are my ideas on faith and having an Intercultural Relationship?
My faith is that Bear and I can come together, with our love of God, our understanding that we are all different but still the same, and our drive to learn more. We both respect and like the other’s faith. Or rather, we both respect and like the ‘good parts’ versions of each other’s faith. We plan on raising our hypothetical children to understand both faiths, although we will practice the Hindu faith more frequently (mainly because the Hindu faith has more to practice). We plan on allowing our children to decide what religion (if any) they choose to follow. All we ask for ourselves and our children is that we live good lives, helping other people, loving and respecting each other, our family and community, understanding that God loves us and wants what’s best for us and growing in our own spirituality and support of one another on that quest.
Do I know that the Bible actually does have a quote on being un-equally yoked?
Yep. Sure do. And before you say anything, I know exactly what the Bible says and where it says it. Here, I’ll even help you out a bit and post the quote here:
“Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God.” (2 Corinthians 6:14)
See? I know my Bible too. Actually, there are many such quotes in the Bible, Proverbs 13:20, Proverbs 14:6, Philippians 3:2, 2 Thessalonians 3:6, Romans 16:17, and 1 Corinthians 15:33.
My problem with organized religion is that there are too many prejudices, too many contradictory and atrocious rules, and (perhaps the biggest of all) there are too many inconsistencies about what man says God supposedly wants.
Please see examples at the following site here. These examples are linked back to the online Bible at Biblegateway.com.
So why am I writing this?
Because religion is just another issue I will be forced to deal with in my Intercultural Relationship. Not because Bear and I disagree on religion, but because we were raised and are of two different faiths and therefore culture and society are against our marriage.
Not everyone is like this. Please, don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to generalize or pigeon hole anyone into a profile or characterization.
What I do want to say though, is that no one can dictate to you what your beliefs or faith should be. Your relationship with God is…well, special.
Never let anyone try to tell you what you should and should not believe, how you should or should not live your life and who you can or cannot marry based on your faith (aka religion of choice). If you do, if you let them whisper words full of good intent (which can sometimes pave the road to hell) and sway you from what YOU know is right, well, then my question to you would be why on earth did God go and give you free-will?
Explore the world around you; embrace those things which are good in reality of action instead of good in intention. Never, ever judge a book by it’s cover or allow its reputation precede it. Always learn and judge for yourself whether something is right for YOU and don’t try to change someone else because you think it might be right for THEM.
America was founded on a good ideology. Religious freedom for all. Wouldn’t it be great if we could take that principle, apply it and see what happens?