Soon, if you read this blog enough, I suppose you’ll find some of my pet peeves. I’ll let you in on one, right now. It’s actually kind of a dual pet-peeve.
- When people blame evil on “religion”
- When supposedly religious people, through their hypocritical actions, give others the excuse to do so.
No one is perfect. There is a difference between imperfection and hypocrisy. I hope that the rest of this blog post will reflect that difference.
Corruption of Religion
In Alma 4, we learn about the conditions of the church (religion) in Zarahemla:
“For they saw and beheld with great sorrow that the people of the church began to be lifted up in the pride of their eyes, and to set their hearts upon riches and upon the vain things of the world, that they began to be scornful, one towards another, and they began to persecute those that did not believe according to their own will and pleasure.
And thus, in this eighth year of the reign of the judges, there began to be great contentions among the people of the church; yea, there were envyings, and strife, and malice, and persecutions, and pride, even to exceed the pride of those who did not belong to the church of God.” – Alma 4:8-9
Here is a description of some of the people in the church at the time:
- Lifted up in pride
- set their heart upon riches and the vain things of the world
- scornful to others
- persecuted those who didn’t believe as they did
This is not the description of a joyful people! Therefore, what followed were not joyful circumstances. Additionally, the bad behavior of the supposed religious resulted in more problems. We read:
“And thus ended the eighth year of the reign of the judges; and the wickedness of the church was a great stumbling-block to those who did not belong to the church; and thus the church began to fail in its progress.” – Alma 4:10
The people who had covenanted to be Christ’s people instead corrupted His gospel.
I can see why the Savior had such a problem with people who were hypocrites. Just because they called themselves religious didn’t make them so. Just because they called themselves covenant people, didn’t qualify them for the covenants that they were breaking.
What ensues is a contentious, harmful environment. And those who are being hurt blame the church. Of course, the church isn’t the problem. The problem comes from the corruption of the people. This is especially sad because the true gospel is should bring healing balm, peace, and love to society – exactly what the society during Alma’s time needed.
I think that this is needed now, too. There are so many people who do wickedly under the guise of their own religion. As a believer of Christ, it really hurts me. This isn’t why Christ suffered and died. He came to bring peace, not to justify and promote pride and persecution. When we commit to leading Christlike lives, we can help to change the sad perception that religion is a source of pain into it being the source of healing and peace.