God yes but
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
February 22, 2017
WE have to be clear about
this. We cannot have God without religion. They go together as far as
we are concerned. Religion is precisely our relationship with God.
It’s an unavoidable thing, whether we like it or not. It has its laws
and requirements that flow from God himself and that ought to be
followed. Without religion, what would God be to us?
There are some people who
profess that they believe in God but not in religion. Perhaps what
they mean is that they indeed believe in God but do not want to be
hampered by certain “requirements” that religion demands from them. Or
they do not want what they call as “organized religion” with its
doctrine and practices.
It’s like saying that they
want a God that is according to their own liking, their own designs,
their own terms. They do not want to be told what to do in their own
so-called relation with God.
Of course, they are quick to
say that these “requirements” are simply man-made, or are mere
legalisms that really have nothing to do with the essence of our
relation with God. They seem to be the only ones capable of knowing
how their relation with God should be. No one should intervene.
Worse, they are quick to
point out the many inconsistencies that people who occupy positions in
the Church and those who call themselves as pious, holy and religious
make, to justify their rejection of their own idea of religion. They
are deflecting the issue, as if the mistakes and sins of these men and
women detract from the objective need for religion.
This is unfortunate because
such understanding of God and religion is fatally flawed. While
religion is personal in the sense that it is unique to each
individual, it is also personal in the sense that it is by definition
relational and subject to the laws of God and the laws that the
divinely founded Church stipulates.
To be personal is not only
to be a unique individual but also to be related to God and to
everybody else. A person is always a religious and social being. That
is how a person is wired, and in these relations, there are universal
God-given laws that need to be followed.
Of course, these laws are
articulated in human terms and therefore cannot fully capture the
mysterious laws of God. That is why they need to be updated, improved,
polished, enriched, etc. as time goes on. But they have to be followed
just the same, unless it’s clear that a particular law does not apply
to a concrete situation of the person.
Some people say that they
believe in God but they do not want to do anything with the Church.
But God without the Church is not God. He would be a man-made god. The
bishop-martyr St. Cyprian expresses this truth well: “You cannot have
God as your Father if you do not have the Church as your mother.”