I hate religion. I haven’t always felt that way, but it became clearer to me why so many people don’t like religion as my Christian faith deepened and I grew to understand the truth about religion itself, love and God’s creation.
God created all people to embrace love and reject selfishness, something at the core of our being. Religion is selfish, but love is selfless. Religion gives to get and love gives to bless, expecting nothing in return. Religion is always looks out for itself, while love always looks out for others. Jesus wasn't religious at all — He didn't give to get anything. He gave so He could keep on giving.
Years ago, when my uncle and pastor told me he hated religion, I thought he had slipped off the deep end. It took me a while to grasp what he meant, but now I do, and I couldn’t agree more.
Before you get mad at me, let me explain the four reasons I hate religion.
#1: Religion Is Prideful
Jesus tells a story about two men who go to the temple to pray. Below is the story found in Luke 18:
9 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted."
I think we all identify with what Jesus felt about these two men. I suspect most that read that story feel drawn to the humble man and a desire to distance themselves from the religious one. Jesus felt the same way. God created us to feel that way! The problem with the Pharisee was not that he fasted twice a week or gave a tenth of all he had to others, but why he did it.
He did it to get something and thought he was above others for doing so. That’s what religion does. A religious person works hard at changing in order to gain something, and when they believe they have achieved it, they think they are better than people who don't do what they do.
Religion gives to be better than others when love gives to better others. In the end, it’s just like Jesus said: Put yourself first and find yourself last, or put yourself last and find yourself first.
#2: Religion Is All about Me
Early on in our marriage, my wife Tammie and I had an issue. I could tell she wasn’t happy, and if Tammie isn’t happy, I’m not happy. I asked what was wrong, and she told me she had asked me to hold her when we slept many times but I never did.
I told Tammie I didn't want to hold her because I would get hot and begin to sweat, and I couldn't sleep well. I literally thought you could fry an egg on that girls back! As you can imagine, she was upset and her response was, "If you don't want to hold me then don't!"
Because I wanted some peace when we got in bed that night, I put my arm over her, but Tammie immediately pushed me off. That made me angry. I asked, “What the heck is wrong with you? You asked me to hold you, and then I do and you push me away!” Tammie said, “I want you to hold me because you want to, not because I asked you to." I said, "I told you I didn't want to because it makes me hot.” She said, "Then don't!"
Over the next few days, I chewed on it, prayed about it and really thought about how to solve this type of problem. Do I lie and say I want to do it, even if I don’t? Do I tell the truth and not do what she wants?