I was told, not too long ago, that if I ever do a good deed, and it’s not “in the name of Jesus”, then I would only be acting on the desire to serve myself.
This person elaborated to say that any good deeds done for reasons other than to spread “the faith” are automatically preformed to enhance the doer’s ego or pride. Thus, the only true motiveless deeds are those done in the name of the “Holy Spirit”.
I don’t completely disagree with all of these statements. I definitely do good things because it makes me feel good to help others. I find satisfaction in being in any part responsible for the happiness of another.
But, is spreading your particular religion not a motive in and of itself? An action executed following that principle isn’t actually free, it just comes with a price someone has deemed more acceptable.
Why are people good? Why do they do nice things? Many religious people will say that their religion guides their values, their moral principles. But, what about people that have no religion?
This all leads me to question: What would Jesus have done if his deeds weren’t rooted in religion? Would he still have been a good person?
I am agnostic. I have chosen a life of concrete, scientific evidence over what I perceive to be a moderately well written yet extremely persuasive work of fiction.
I grew up surrounded by religion, had missionary grandparents and went to church many a Sundays. The Bible was not a foreign concept to me, nor were the values expressed in it. But, I began to question faith and religion in high school.
I watched as people around me, in affluent, white, religious America, did the opposite of what I was always told God wanted. My grandfather always taught me that Jesus preached love, acceptance, mercy, and non-judgment, but all of these “Christians” did the complete opposite.
Some were racist, but many were homophobic and sexist, and every person I knew harbored at least some judgement for the most trivial differences.
At the time, I may not have fully understood the extent or importance of my drift, but as I got older I found out that my gut was right: these “Christians” were anything but.
As I entered college, science intrigued me. My complete understanding of the findings of Darwin and Lamarck accelerated my drift. Biology filled in the gaps I could never wrap my brain around before; biology filled the gaps that religion couldn’t.
I had already lost my trust in Christians, but with science I lost my trust in religion itself.
Looking back, if I had confidence in the execution of Christian principles I may have been more inclined to disregard the scientific evidence that chipped away at my faith, but by the time evolutionary science entered my life I think I wanted a reason to drop religion for good.
It may feel like I am picking on Christianity, but I promise I’m not. It is just the religion I am most educated in.
I appreciate Christianity’s predominant principals, the driving principals of love and acceptance, but my biggest issues with the religion lies in human error and hypocrisy.
When I think back to what that person said to me, about motiveless deeds, I am reminded of how hypocritical I find most traditional religious people to be, often using their faith as a curtain to hide behind when they are made uncomfortable by social change.
My point is that you don’t have to be a Christian to be good, and you’re not automatically good because you can label yourself a “Christian” … or any other religion.
I didn’t know Jesus, heck I don’t even know if he existed, but I’d like to think that if he did it wouldn’t have mattered WHY you were good to those around you but THAT you were good to those around you.