Love is my religion
On the Bright Side
September 29, 2018
I was born into a Christian family and raised mostly in two non-controversial protestant denominations: Presbyterian and Methodist. Neither church was on the fringe, and I learned a lot of good stuff in those places on Sunday mornings, and Wednesday evening youth fellowships, and at Bible camp and later church camps (both in the woods and, when we were older, on college campuses).
My extended family – on both my mother's and my father's side – were fundamentalist, but I was the daughter of a man who loved science and exploring and a woman who wanted to learn about every other religion and society (including customs, food, clothing and beliefs) on earth. Dad and Mom both grew up with a strong church background and cultural traditions in rural Iowa. They also both had a desire to get out of their comfort zones and discover all they could about the world around them.
In Sunday school I learned that, "Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world (red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight...)." I learned the 10 Commandments and how to interpret them (i.e. "thou shalt not bear false witness..." in plain terms, means "you shouldn't lie"). When I got older I learned from studying about Jesus that he said those commandments were the laws to live by and then he gave us an eleventh commandment, which was, "above all else" – to "love thy neighbor as thyself, as I have loved you."
From my parents I learned to value new experiences and to love exploring this wonderful planet God gave us. I also learned from them to better love other people (all those colors of the world) by being introduced to new cultures and traditions. I still today try to live my life with those long-ago basic lessons, from trying to live in a state of love as well as with an appreciation of the many different experiences and opportunities God offers up.
I haven't, however, been a regular church goer for over 40 years now. As I got older through the years and better understood the importance of teaching and practicing love, I also had to acknowledge the hypocrisy of so many Christian church-goers. In my naiveté as a youngster, I thought if I lived in a Christian community, I would be living in the safest most loving place on earth. How could it be any different, when Christians (i.e. people who follow the Christ), living the way they were taught by Jesus, should be the kindest, most open and honest and welcoming people anywhere?
Boy was I wrong. These days I see so much vitriol coming from various Christian pulpits – including trying to justify the breaking of just about every one of the 10 Commandments and trying to turn neighbor against neighbor – that I sometimes have a hard time even thinking of myself as a "Christian." I've experienced that vitriol personally and I've seen it directed at others for a variety of reasons.
I still believe in following the teachings of Christ as best I can, but I just can't be one of those so-called Christians who preach one thing and shows the exact opposite with their actions. Nor can I be one of those who, in 2018, are no longer even bothering to preach love, but feel justified in preaching the opposite of all that Jesus taught us.
My roots are in Christianity and always will be – the teachings that got me started – but I have happily expanded my spirituality and I am thankful that I have been able to experience and learn from so many of the people, places and things that God (or the Universe or the Goddess or the Higher Power, take your pick) has put in my path.
Love is the basis of all the major religions; all the great teachers taught love. Even ancient (and current) non-religious sects and tribes and communities taught/teach and try to live love.
I, too, choose love. Love is my religion.