Potiphar12's Blog
An Octogenarian in the modern world


I  posted recently about religion and the gay marriage thing. My starting point was that the sociological purpose of religion is to make the tribe do the things that are good for it. That is to say, the wise men of the tribe figure out a policy and endue it with divine authority so that people are scared  to disobey. It becomes The Word of God. For this sort of vision I am going to use the word INSPIRED, which leaves the source of inspiration open. It can be inspired by God. It can be inspired by some super-human intelligence. It can be a flash of genius whereby a human perceives an absolute truth that exists in its own right and does not emanate from any consciousness.That definition allows INSPIRATION to come at any historical time and permits discussion without insisting on a paticular belief.  A problem with inspiration is that once whoever was inspired has passed on, lesser men  pick the thing up and embroider it with fancy practices that are rather less inspired. The Ten Commandments are pretty good, but in Leviticus (Third book of Moses) you can find weird rules and regulations that make the bureaucrats in Brussels look like babes in arms. So the primary good gets degraded and it becomes hard to decide what the original good purpose was, and whether it is still valid and whether current practices still promote it. For me as a Christian it is a matter of separating “what God said”  from what men have done with the idea since. There is further confusion because an established religion always has a hierarchy and those holding authority within it are concerned for their own future. They are not going to question their doctrine too critically. So there is always an inertia holding back critical examination. This is supported by the natural desire of humans to feel secure and comfortable.

I got into this line of thought because in the gay marriage thing we have the secular state saying to the religions (some of them, anyway) “You are morally wrong on this matter.” The state is openly challenging the moral claims of religion, doing so in this case in the name of ‘equality’ which is presented as a greater good. Will that sort of challenge be posed in other areas?  I think The Church of England, and various other denominations, need to examine their teaching very carefully and be prepared for debate. I think the churches have a major role here, because the state (in a democracy) is very responsive to fashion and frequently acts too quickly and in an ill-judged way. I think the present adulation of ‘equality’ as an ideal to be followed in all circumstances is dangerous. Is this promotion of equality INSPIRED or not?  Humans reached their present state of development because of natural selection  – which is all about some individuals being ‘better’ than others. Ideas can be pushed too far. Righting practices that are obviously unfair is one thing: extending the search for equality too far is quite another. We have already pushed the concepts of Political Correctness and Health and Safety to their limits and beyond.

Another point is that my use of the word ‘tribe’ assumes a homogenous community. If my thinking about orgin stands up, it demands a group so closely connected that one standard of behaviour is ‘the best one’ for the lot. That is easy for a small tribe, but what happens if a group is so large that the circumstances demanding a particular behaviour don’t exist everywhere? Then what is ‘right’ for one section is not ‘right’ for another. It is obvious from the multiplicity of religions and religious practices that different circumstances cause different practices to be seen as ‘right’. All that needs another blog post.

2 Responses to “AFTER GAY MARRIAGE?”

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  2. Everything is very open with a precise clarification of the issues.
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