As I write, there is a meeting taking place where a committee of males in frocks (and a few females) are deciding whether to give women equal rights to men. Yes, that’s right, in 2012 a group of people are still quibbling over the correct answer. Logic and experience tells us that we are all born equal and, in an ideal world, should be afforded the same opportunities in life. The body debating this is the Church of England General Synod and the thorny issue is whether to appoint then annoint female bishops and if they do, should their “powers” be equivalent to their male counterparts. There are claims and counterclaims by both sides, quoting passages from the bible as well as citing cultural and historical precedence.
The fact that this debate is still raging in this religious body does not surprise me one iota. It seems this is the least perplexing dilemma that the Christian faith, and all other religions for that matter, have grappled with in their history. Firstly, followers of religion by definition have to make blind leaps of faith to explain things that they don’t understand. Secondly, they use selected highlights of scripture to back this up. Thirdly, they change their minds over time as common sense catches up with them, leading to endless debating and tinkering with ecumenical law.
The abandonment of plain logic to believe in something otherworldly is something that is either ingrained into children brought up in religious households or propagandised to those born again late-comers. Children are impressionable and will believe most things that adults tell them and cannot be blamed for defying common sense. Adults on the other hand leave logic behind for several reasons, whether it be trauma in their lives, isolation, depression or the need to belong to a community of some sort. This makes any relative quick-fix seem attractive. With retail and psycho-therapy being too expensive, religious belief seems like an attractive offer: seemingly free and without the hassle of analysis of the root cause of unhappiness. It’s easier to turn to an all-loving, all-healing deity when unloved or unhurt rather than solving the problems here and now, taking patience and hard work.
Once logic has been cast aside, the new believer finds justification and solace in this new faith by reading the prescribed religious texts (if they haven’t already done so). These tracts have usually been written and edited by past religious leaders, selecting the highlights based upon contemporary Zeitgeist. Christians, who hold the Holy Bible in sacrosanct esteem, only follow certain handpicked, family friendly and convenient truths to follow. How many Christians are kosher, as outlined in Leviticus; or would never consider divorce (with exceptions of infidelity), as taught in the New Testament?
The debate still rages on. The words in these books do not move around the page but human sensibilities often come into play and try to be justified by yet another chapter or verse. Both sides of course can find their own proofs in there and that is why we still have clergy debating issues that could be cleared up in a millisecond if they just closed the book and used some cold, hard reasoning. The huge flaw in using religious texts as references for an argument is that they are archaic and terminally unchangeable, as is warned in the Book of Revelation. End of Story.
Of course religion offers comfort to untold numbers but unfortunately it also confers suffering, restriction and prejudice on many. Making this leap of faith is like making a physical leap across a dark chasm without weighing up the consquences of jumping: how far away the other side is, or even if it exists. Logic and sound reasoning dictate we look for other, tangible options like, a long and rocky path down, across and up; help from a friend or maybe just enjoying the beauty of the chasm as it is.
Let’s look at our universe with fresh, untinted eyes. It’s wonderfully perplexing in its entirety. There is plenty to discover without the fuzzy logic of religious abstraction, which confounds our natural senses and distorts our relationship with the world around us, including our fellow humans which is why there are still gender inequality issues in this, the 21st Century.