In our Untangled feature, we answer questions posed to us from our readers. Today’s question/comment (revised) comes from a long-time reader of our blog:
Junketsu no Maria 7 won’t leave my mind. Here we have Ezekiel berated for the sins of love and mercy. And he (she?) does deeply regret ignoring Heaven’s orders… only he hates the idea of killing the innocent so much more! Ezekiel pleads he cannot act because he does not understand the main character’s sin.
“I didn’t make you to think,” the archangel Michael refutes Ezekiel’s doubts. “My words are the words of Heaven.”
It is a dead-end street for Ezekiel. His mind will not dare blame the religious authority, his heart will not cast away love and mercy. What is there left for him but to blame himself for… for what?
I feel like Ezekiel’s plight perfectly reflects the tribulations moral and thinking people go through in a Christian/Catholic society. We are called upon to hate, abandon and destroy in the name of God. That’s maniacal heresy, certainly, but words of hate and division are sweet indeed, especially when spoken from a position of heavenly authority. As the poison spreads, many an Ezekiel is born. Those poor souls retained their sanity and suffer for it in solitude and silent doubt: might they be the insane ones?
The reader goes on to give examples, mentioning a priest decrying My Little Pony as satanic and the church as “spawning internal conflicts by delving into politics and dishing out the tried and true ‘you are with us or against us.'” He concludes with this:
The will of Heavens is unfathomable, the Church will say – the end-all of any discussion, the all-answer. But wait a moment longer and you will be told exactly what the Heavens want you to think and do. “My words are the words of Heaven.” That is most unfathomable!
I think of the Ezekiel curled up silently by the riverside, and wonder what words I can offer him. And I tell him, if you do not doubt God, make sure you doubt that Archangel.
My response? Hallelujah!
Our reader goes straight to the heart of what turns off a lot of non-Christians in regards to the church – leadership that directs congregations in an ungracious, unthinking manner and with an iron fist. This kind of thought pervades all religions, and Christianity is no exception. Historically we know this to be true, but we don’t have visit history for examples – just drive to many churches in America’s bible belt today, and you’ll feel the same.
As the reader points out, Christians need to look to God. Churches, unfortunately, sometimes would rather look to their own culturally created god rather than to the God of the Bible. Power, sin, ignorance, and idolization cause church leadership to drift from God toward something ungodly. But they can’t be the only ones to blame – we are sheep in need of a shepherd, but the ultimate shepherd aren’t pastors or priests or bishops – it’s Christ. And if we see our church valuing ideas that run contrary to scripture, we have to make the choice to follow down that wide and destructive path or to take the narrow but righteous one.
Staying true to scripture also means that while we to avoid swaying toward becoming pharisees or otherwise hoisting wrong teaching upon others, we must also avoid becoming universalists or those that otherwise water down the gospel into one of the world’s vision of love, acceptance, and mercy. We can’t forget the significance of Christ’s death and the weight of our sins, and forego that message, jumping straight to grace. That misses the point of God’s gift of salvation entirely.
On another note, although few of us on staff are watching Junketsu no Maria this season, we may delve into the series some as time allows. Even if it approaches religion from an angle other than our own, as the reader email demonstrates, there’s plenty to dig into that beneficial for Christians and non-Christians alike.