Part 2 in a 3 part series on Religion
Warning, heavy religious content.
Jeff Porterfield started an interesting discussion on LinkedIn. Entitled; “Can there ever be a binding code of ethics without God?”
In supporting his point of never finding a “workable moral code without religion,” Jeff brings up two issues; modern religious organizations being man-made constructs and a belief in a God which gives us Freedom of Choice.” I find those two observations quite perceptive, raising valid questions that need to be answered. Where is this God with a workable moral code, a God who grants us choice and a God who belies man-made constructs?
It is interesting to note that Jeff’s often heard statement of no workable moral code without religion can be traced to The Lessons of History by Wil and Ariel Durant who wrote: “There is no significant example in history, before our time, of a society successfully maintaining moral life without the aid of religion.
Will Durant, with the assistance of his wife Ariel, received a Nobel Prize for their work; “The Story of Civilization.” They continued with their thought on a moral code when they wrote of American Society: “We frolic in our emancipation from theology, but have we developed a natural ethic-a moral code independent of religion-strong enough to keep our instincts of acquisition, pugnacity, and sex from debasing our civilization into a mire of greed, crime, and promiscuity?”
We see this lack of a moral ethic rapidly spreading in American society today. With the end of each war or conflict, we seem to step deeper into this quagmire the Durants so eloquently described. Today, this “mire” includes drug abuse, murder, gangs, pornography, campus rape, obscene salaries, rampant poverty, lying to make a profit and for power, etc. The list goes on and on. This decay, is responsible for many of the controversial political and societal issues of our day; including the need to increase taxes to help the poor, abortion, guns, legalizing marijuana, providing reparations for past bigotry, accepting pornography as normal, passing “yes means yes” laws, etc. However, turning our Liberty founded nation into a restrictive society of forced obedience will not solve the problems. The Durants, in identifying the problem, have given us the answer. We need to reinstall a moral code into the consciousness of our great nation. We need once again to believe in a set of ethical values with the power to lift us to become moral beings. Democracy presupposes morality. History tells us such morality has only come through the adoption of a set of religious values.
That brings us back to Jeff Porterfield’s identification of the two religious stumbling blocks that seemingly prevent him from such a resurgence. Modern-day religion, being simple manmade constructs and second; religion as an institution with the purpose of control and which tends to remove choice or freedom.
As Christ and his Apostles traveled throughout Israel and spread the good word there was no passing of the plate. Christ said; “the birds have their nests but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.” Religion was not for sale. In today’s world of mega churches and paid clergy, all too often, Church has become a business. A successful congregation is in competition for patrons, individuals willing to generously contribute to the work. Those funds go to hiring gospel bands and more pastors to get more patrons. It is a perversion. Christ changed the law of sacrifice from that of blood, the sacrifice of the firstlings of the flock, to our willingness to sacrifice a contrite heart and a willing hand. The preaching of the Lords gospel should be a sacrifice and never be done for financial gain. Religion for sale is a man-made construct. The original true doctrine of Christ encompassed a lay clergy.
Additionally, man-made constructs entered into the doctrine after the Apostles were lost. This apostasy was canonized at the time of the “Councils” which transpired roughly 400 AD. The most notable incorporation of man’s philosophy was the adoption of the concept of the Trinity. A mystical God of spirit arguing all three beings in one. A mass of confusion. A more meaningful interpretation of Christ’s statement “if ye have seen me, ye have seen the Father;” might be interpreted simply as meaning they look the same. This simpler concept more easily coincides with the doctrine that Adam and Eve were created in the image of God.” This is just one example of the man-made constructs of doctrine which have continued from the time of the Neocene Counsel until today. It is this blending of truth and philosophies of man that has fueled the Protestant reformation.
The logical solution to remedying man constructed doctrine would most naturally be a return to the Apostles. Men who can witness and have personally been instructed of Christ. Men and Women who are endowed with the gift of The Holy Ghost. Such men and women, having been instructed of Christ and of the Holy Ghost can instruct us, not in the ideas of men but, in truth.
A church with a lay clergy, Apostles and modern day revelation exists today.
From them we learn: Moral Agency is the fundamental driving principle in God’s plan for us here on this earth and is the foundational principle in his established church. God, out of love, encourages us to make those choices which will help us grow. Only Satan forces us. Satan encourages us into imprisoning addictions, rationalizes laws to remove our freedoms, and would compel us to obey him. God never forces nor coerces, he only gives the occasional nudge. God gives us commandments, not to constrain us, but rather to free us; to help us break free of a debased civilization mired in, and enslaved by, addictions, greed, crime, and promiscuity. Brigham Young, arguably the most successful Governor in US History, was once asked how he controlled his people. He responded; “I teach them truth and let them do whatever they want.” With truth comes freedom.
We also learn from modern Prophets and Apostles a major purpose of life is to see how we will choose. God lets evil men commit evil acts in fulfillment of each individual’s test and choice. This life can be likened to the second act in a three act play. Justice and comfort from life’s sufferings will find their culmination in the final act yet to come. Nevertheless, much joy and fulfillment can be found in this life by following the roadmap to happiness which he has revealed to us. Again, it is our choice. This life is a test, a chance for us to get to know ourselves. A chance to see what we will choose when left to our own devices.
Jeff Porterfield has shared his faith in God along with his feelings of an imposed disconnect from that God through the constructs of men. I would share with him my faith in Christ and a church based on direct revelation. A church which contains a viable moral code for our day. That church, a church free of man-made constructs both in organization and doctrine, is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It can be found here.
Christ lives and communicates with us. His pure doctrine is void of man-made constructs. Through his direct communication with prophets and apostles that doctrine will remain pure. Ethical and moral truths are taught in His teachings and empowered by the atonement. His pure teachings can elevate us to become better people who can contribute to a much better nation.
Our nation is in perilous ethical starvation. For the continued viability of our democratic republic, a moral code of ethics is needed. We need not vainly pursue a national moral ethic without God for God lives. His pure doctrine, sans man’s alterations and manipulations, is currently available. It comes without false constructs and without coercion.
Where is this God with a workable moral code, a God who grants us choice and a God who belies man-made constructs? It lies in the teachings of a living and active Christ and in the administrations of modern day Prophets and Apostles.
There is a power here to change lives. There is a power here to revitalize this nation with a pure and viable ethic. We need only choose.
Samuel Waen Jensen