It’s becoming popular these days to criticize and poke fun at people who are silly enough to be “religious.” For a variety of reasons, those who put trust in a Power greater than themselves are scorned as narrow, backwards and parochial, at best. At worst, those who give their hearts to worship and follow (obey) some kind of Divine being are increasingly portrayed as almost threats to the larger social order.
The insinuation seems to be that the rest of the people – the non-religious ones – are not putting their trusting in something outside of themselves, nor giving their hearts to worship or follow (obey) anything in particular. Unlike those “religious people,” the rest of the masses like to frame themselves as quite different – not wasting time with either “faith” or “worship” of something outside of yourself.
If not wasting time on God, then pray-tell, what do these people put their hearts and minds? Well, probably lots of things.
According to recent statistics, over 20 million people in America tune in weekly to watch NCIS, the Big Bang Theory and Sunday football (during the season). Approximately 16 million people watch Dancing with the Stars religiously, with 15 million loving Two and a Half Men, 13 million adoring Modern Family and 10 million relishing Desperate Housewives.
How does that compare with the pews at your church Sunday? Is it possible to live without putting your trust in anything? And is there such a thing as an individual that adores or follows nothing?
Thanks to songs like, “I kissed a girl,” Katy Perry has become one of the biggest musical stars of our day, and a modern sex symbol everywhere she goes. Her Christian father, Keith Hudson, shared his feelings about being at a concert of Katy’s attended by 20,000 people: “I’m watching this [crowd] and they were going at it. It almost looked like church…I stood there and wept and kept on weeping and weeping.” He then added, “They’re loving and worshipping the wrong thing.”
Rather than asking “whether or not” to believe and trust in something, perhaps we should be asking what exactly do we choose to definitely trust in our lives? Instead of debating whether to worship and love something or not, maybe we can start talking about who we decide to love, worship and follow…and why?
Elder Russel Nelson pointed out in April 2014 General Conference that the word “religion” means to “ligate again” or “tie back” ( re- re- + ligāre). He then asked, “where is our faith exactly?….Are we tied to God, or tied to something else?”
Is there anyone that doesn’t have to place faith in something…anyone that doesn’t adore or revere or cherish or worship something…that doesn’t follow and obey and yield to something in their heart and mind?
Of course not. And of course, you can’t escape answering that question in some way.
If turning your back on religion, that’s okay – but then who or what are you going to worship? Where are you going to find your comfort and give your daily and weekly adoration? Science? Sex? Your partner? A celebrity? TV? Beauty? The body? Your appetite for food? Your own philosophies? Yourself? A practice? A guru?
How we answer that question may turn out to be a pretty big deal. When Nicodemus came to Christ at night, he sought answers to the hunger in his own soul. In response, Jesus told him what lay behind ongoing torment some people face – where hearts and minds become stuck, even eternally: “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light” (John 3:19).