There’s a funny thing going on in our country right now.
On one hand, things have never been more polarized–Democrats vs. Republicans, CNN vs Fox News, Evangelicals vs Everyone Else, etc.
On the other hand, things have never been more fluid. From pansexuality to transgenderism to the redefinition of the American family; from genetically modified babies to photoshopped images to the 23 and Me phenomenon, lines are blurred and preconceived notions inverted.
Public anxiety swarms around the extremes and infuses the continuum in between. It manifests in the form of riots, counter-riots, escalating rhetoric, online hate speech, virulent policy battles, lack of sensitivity, oversensitivity, severed relationships… the list could go on.
Well-meaning people champion any myriad of issues in the pursuit of absolving injustice or mass unrest. This is a good thing because our country needs advocates for racial equality, homelessness, mental illness, global warming, campaign finance reform, gender pay equality, and so on.
But if we take a 50,000-foot view of things, there is a fundamental question undergirding all the busyness and rancor amongst us.
With all proper respect due to Haddaway, the implications are far greater than the goings-on at a nightclub. On the surface, the problems we face appear to culminate in the political sphere. We’re trading barbs and making power plays about all kinds of issues. However, to think that the political sphere is THE problem of origin is shortsighted.
Prior to the late 20th century and the present time, there was a general assumption interwoven in American culture. We were a country founded on God. Of course, it wasn’t just any God. While we claimed to have separation of church and state and promote religious tolerance, it is feeble to argue that anything other than the Christian notion of God permeated policy, law, and mores.
Slavery, the subjugation of women, the virtual annihilation of Native Americans, the plunder of our natural resources, and many other atrocities were cloaked by self-satisfying interpretations of this Christian God, emboldening these actions. To be fair to the historical record and Christianity, there were many Christians–albeit the minority–who did not ascribe to this version of God and worked ardently to counter such abuses.
But majority rules in our country (unless we are talking about the presidential popular vote) and the majority rode the coattails of a pompous God who does shitty things. What do you suppose was their justification? If we could boil it down to one word, what would it be?
Try this on for size.
Or so they say. You see, if your religion asserts that God is Love, ergo God precipitates Love, ergo what God says Love is is, then anything goes. And the American Judeo-Christian God is cobbled together by pieces of the Bible that have been used to justify all kinds of wickedness, past and present– this same God who “is Love.”
As a nation, it is time to move the marker.
We must redefine Love, not based on a particular religion’s interpretation of God. Rather, we must define Love based on reason, inclusivity, compassion, and results for the greater good.
Love is Love. Not all gods are Love.
Does a God determine our values, or do our values determine our God?
Look, it doesn’t matter if you believe in a god God, are “spiritual-not-religious,” or atheist. Our highest priority should be a Love that unites, expands, includes, heals, and renews. Wherever you place your Primacy is your god. Build your God upon Love and we’re all good.
Please. For the love of Love.
Rachel Roberts is the founder of American None. Every now and then she's known to have a deep thought, usually in the most random places– like shopping for IPA and gummy bears.