I live in the Midwest. We’ve so twisted our religion and our culture, they are intertwined and neither has benefited from the mixture.
It’s not okay to cheat on your wife or your taxes. It’s okay to despise your neighbor if they don’t keep their yard nice or their dogs bark. It’s okay to not recycle. No one needs to be truly honest. Very few even know how.
The problem with a Religious Culture is the mixture gets so twisted, people start thinking the Religious Values are actually God’s Values. In a Religious Culture, pretending becomes important. We also pick up inaccurate information about what God is truly like. We tend to think he’s a bit like us. He can become an older, overweight, American guy, kinda chuckling and patting us on the back as we binge-eat donuts. He’s a good ‘ole boy; we share the same values. Yes, he gets us. He understands. But that doesn’t make him remotely like us.
He wants to kill us.* He is not sympathetic toward sin. He’s much more concerned about our hearts, the eternal, than anything outward that doesn’t last. He’s rarely as concerned about what you’re doing as much as WHY. He’s not okay being on a list of your top ten lovers. He is the solution, but he doesn’t want to be treated like a solution. He’s in love with humanity. His plan is to drive us all into his arms. It’s what we’re made for.
Some insist God wants us to drive to a big/small/fancy/modest/crowded/empty building on Sunday morning looking our best, and give money so we can keep the building running and the pastor fed, sit passively in a pew or chair, and listen to a preacher. They insist this is God’s plan. It says so in the Bible.
*Part of the beauty of his plan is he doesn’t try and “fix” us, and he certainly doesn’t want us trying to fix ourselves. He knows we’re our most beautiful, powerful, in unity with the trinity, our source. But sin and trinity don’t mix, so we die, we’re crucified with Christ in the spirit, and then God places us in Christ, so we’re covered by his sacrifice, we’re living out of all He is, we’re best friends with three of the greatest beings imaginable, and we learn how to live in His Kingdom from the Source Himself. No cheap, “Welcome to the Kingdom” pamphlets for these guys. They invite you into their realm, their fellowship, their sacrifice, their humility, their love. Doesn’t matter what a creep, jerk, lousy whatever we are anymore. He kills it. Great solution, huh? He’s like, “You don’t need that anymore; here, take this.” And he gives us his life every day.