Monday, April 23, 2007

God--the great Because

I'm in the process of raising 3 pre-K kids, each about 2 years apart. As any experienced parent (and many a non-parent, frankly) knows, kids go through a stage of asking "why" over and over again shortly after becoming verbal. I always try my best to answer these rapid-fire inquiries, even if the final response is, "I don't know." I can't stand it when people say, "because," simply because that's really NOT an answer. It's a conjunction, folks. Yet it gets used a lot, even between adults.

On to the point, and another story. Last night, my wife and I were discussing the interview question at the back of Stages of Faith. It's a good exercise, because I think it's demonstrating to her that our values haven't diverged. One question was about core values or something to that effect. I answered that I had two primary one's--living the golden rule, and questing for knowledge. She said that hers were faith in God and faith in Jesus Christ. This was a critical moment, for my recent agnosticism/disbelief in the Mormon God causes her great angst. So I drilled down:

Uj: What does that mean?"
DW of Uj: What do you mean, "what does that mean?" You know what it means.
Uj: No, I told you values that you can map directly to how I will act in given situations. You told me you believe in God. What does that mean when the rubber hits the road?

Of course, it came back to the golden rule for her, too. I pointed out that God was kind of an unnecessary addition to that value--you could adhere to the golden rule with or without the belief that God cares.

That got me thinking this morning about why so many believers throw God out there as an answer to moral questions. Does it really mean anything? Not in terms of actions--if I were going to tell someone I'm gay (which I'm not--just a good example for where I'm going), I'd rather tell a person who claims to live the golden rule than one who claims to be Christian. The Golden Ruler will not hit me, because he himself does not like to be hit. The Christian is a gamble--might be a moral person in the sense of the golden rule, might be an executor of God's Will. There are still advocates of jail time for homosexual behavior! So a person's belief in God tells me nothing about their values.

You might suppose that that makes God a neutral assertion--that "God told me so" has no true meaning. But, unfortunately, it's not. God is also a conversation stopper. "God told me so" = "I am right, because." There's nothing following the because, so it's not really supporting the "I am right," but a believer doesn't usually see that. So, God becomes the Great Because, seeming to resolve things when it fact it does not.


Blogger Sister Mary Lisa said...

This is great. I totally agree with your sentiments here. It amazes me how few people at the LDS church really truly think beyond the "I have faith in God" comment to what their actual values are.

April 29, 2007 at 3:01 PM  

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