Then Thursday, CNN.com reported on Sam Harris’ criticism of religion:
Religion has convinced us that there’s something else entirely other than concerns about suffering. There’s concerns about what God wants, there’s concerns about what’s going to happen in the afterlife.
And, therefore, we talk about things like gay marriage as if it’s the greatest problem of the 21st century.
Both reminded me of Jesus’ own words:
What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore the more important aspects of the law—justice, mercy, and faith. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things. Blind guides! You strain your water so you won’t accidentally swallow a gnat, but you swallow a camel!
And this more extreme version a little later:
Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, “Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.
Then they will reply, “Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?”
And he will answer, “I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.”
And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.
His brother James summed it this way:
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
It’s easy to get so caught up in rules and regulations to help us do the latter that we completely forget to do the former. We strain out gnats while we’re swallowing camels.