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Author Topic: What If Your God/desses Asked You To Do Something Contrary To Your Nature?  (Read 3989 times)

EJay

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I just ran into a reference of Abraham being told by God to sacrifice his son, Isaac, and it got me to thinking.

If it'd been me, my response would've been, Really?  Then I would have removed all symbols of that deity from my house and hired an exorcist to remove all traces of any energy left behind.  And when the angel appeared and said, Just kidding! I'd've said, Haha, very funny, and slammed the door in their face.

Now that's extreme but it got me to wondering how far we, as pagans, will go to follow the "laws" of our beliefs in order to please/placate our deities.

Would any of you step outside your normal values if you truly believed your deity was telling you to?  Or would you jump ship, like I said I would in my little farce?

Do we only hang with our deities because we think THEY think like us?  Or are we true servants and should do as our God/desses bid?
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Quote from: EJay;77148
Do we only hang with our deities because we think THEY think like us?  Or are we true servants and should do as our God/desses bid?

 
Good question! For me, I would not do something that disagreed SO strongly with my personal values as Abraham did - my faith is not blind. This doesn't mean I believed in my gods any less - in fact if they turned up and asked something of me I'd pretty much say my belief was confirmed! Personal responsibility is one of the cornerstones of my faith and asking me to do something that far outside of what I feel is right would have me telling Odhinn where to get off.
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Gæð a wyrd swa hio scel! - Fate goes ever as she shall!

DashesAgainst

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Quote from: EJay;77148
I just ran into a reference of Abraham being told by God to sacrifice his son, Isaac, and it got me to thinking.

If it'd been me, my response would've been, Really?  Then I would have removed all symbols of that deity from my house and hired an exorcist to remove all traces of any energy left behind.  And when the angel appeared and said, Just kidding! I'd've said, Haha, very funny, and slammed the door in their face.

Now that's extreme but it got me to wondering how far we, as pagans, will go to follow the "laws" of our beliefs in order to please/placate our deities.

Would any of you step outside your normal values if you truly believed your deity was telling you to?  Or would you jump ship, like I said I would in my little farce?

Do we only hang with our deities because we think THEY think like us?  Or are we true servants and should do as our God/desses bid?

I am devoted to my gods, but not blindly so.  If I were asked to do something that would bring harm to others, or even myself, I would refuse... and, well, "jump ship!"

  I follow my gods because they are a zillion times wiser and better than I am, and I strive to become a better, more moral person under their guidance.  I don't view them as perfect, or omniscient/omnipotent, or all light with no dark (and by dark I mean the destructive side that is necessary to maintain universal/ natural balance.)  Nor do I expect our relationship to be "pain free" and always comfortable.  Sometimes pain is necessary for growth.

But I trust that they would never ask me to do something petty and cruel, especially for the sake of their own ego.  Such behavior is a human thing, in my opinion, which is why I view stories about the gods (including the Bible) as a mix of allegory and entertainment, with maybe a glimpse of divine nature.

Who knows, though? There very well could be petty malevolent gods out there - but should I encounter one, they won't receive my worship!
« Last Edit: October 19, 2012, 06:48:22 am by DashesAgainst »
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Faemon

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Quote from: EJay;77148
I just ran into a reference of Abraham being told by God to sacrifice his son, Isaac
That example becomes even more problematic when it came to Jephthah's daughter. (Judges 11:31-39) Or less, if you buy that the Big G, the omni-present Big G, had no part in this at all. And didn't, all the way to the end that doesn't say she didn't die horribly, but divine inspiration of the text might suggest that it was all euphemistic and that she just became a nun.

Quote
Would any of you step outside your normal values if you truly believed your deity was telling you to? Or would you jump ship, like I said I would in my little farce?
 
I have gone against my own established values, and used faith to get me there. It was such a difficult time in my life that I leaned on the spiritual because my rational was still more of a mess than the spiritual regularly is, and if (what I named) my "intuition" suggested that I kill someone? I can't say that I wouldn't have done it. So, if I've ever given off that I've got it All Figured Out, I really haven't.

It wasn't "me" or so I keep feeling-- but I firmly believe that I should make it "me", because there is no one else to blame or credit. My spirituality is still my spirituality.

(No casualties, by the by, but still quite the horror to be in that state, where something so dear to one's identity-- one's principles-- actually dissipates. I swear, I worked to keep a hold on those principles, as hard as I f***ing could. And what I did was Wrong-- and I don't expect sympathy, because I still actually won't give it to anyone else who chose to do something Wrong just because they felt cornered.)
Quote
Do we only hang with our deities because we think THEY think like us?  Or are we true servants and should do as our God/desses bid?
I'd say Yes to the former. There seems to be this feedback loop of metaphysical nature and nurture.

My patron before was Manannan mac Lir, and my favorite stories about Him portrayed a god who is resonant with Truth-- and a lot of things in my life before reading about Him, had formed the value of honesty in me. It helped having Him around, like an A.A. sponsor, probably. But, the turmoil that I mentioned? That came to a head when I told a lie.

I didn't get a lot of theophany to walk me through the process, but, I've figured so far that: The Man sensed that my resonance was becoming turmoiled, and that I wouldn't come out the other side of this event still being His acolyte. Or I might have told Him so, on some level; I don't recall being bade to stick to His principles. The Man appears to have just... foisted me off to Loki (as punishment. Haha, no, the Lie-smith World-breaker is actually a pretty cool guy-- but it does feel as if I were "referred elsewhere" and I do very much miss the clarity of compulsive honesty, as well as the somewhat more nurturing Celtic energy.)

Now, Loki didn't ask me to lie. I lied, and then Loki seemed to go, "Sure, I'll pick her up." I do recall that I did defy one of Loki's subsequent requests, however. We resonated in every way, actually, so I might have said yes-- but my faculty for actually making decisions? Said no, emphatically. And I'm wary of His divine retribution, and wistful about what might have been if I'd said Yes, but right now I just can't see should past the is. (Which might-- ta-daa!-- be why the Norns invited me in.)

Similarly, somewhere in all this, I also do believe that the Judeo-Christian Holy Spirit came to me to advise more patience and candor with somebody that I had been very hurt by and grown to hate. Intellectually, that would be a very enlightened attitude to take on. For me, practically, it is impossible. So, open up the earth to swallow me, send in the bears, strike me with lightning, burn me like garbage for innumerable aeons-- I shall not be other than myself.

Same with Manannan-- I made a vow, describing all sort of horrible consequences for breaking it, that He could make happen. For some reason, I don't feel that He will. If He did, I think it... wouldn't change anything that had to be changed, really.
« Last Edit: October 19, 2012, 06:49:05 am by Faemon »
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SkySamuelle

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Quote from: EJay;77148
I just ran into a reference of Abraham being told by God to sacrifice his son, Isaac, and it got me to thinking.

If it'd been me, my response would've been, Really?  Then I would have removed all symbols of that deity from my house and hired an exorcist to remove all traces of any energy left behind.  And when the angel appeared and said, Just kidding! I'd've said, Haha, very funny, and slammed the door in their face.

Now that's extreme but it got me to wondering how far we, as pagans, will go to follow the "laws" of our beliefs in order to please/placate our deities.

Would any of you step outside your normal values if you truly believed your deity was telling you to?  Or would you jump ship, like I said I would in my little farce?

Do we only hang with our deities because we think THEY think like us?  Or are we true servants and should do as our God/desses bid?

 
I don't think there's a straight-laced, simple answer to this question because the truth is, it's not usual at a certain point of your path to find yourself in the position to take a leap of faith to do something your deity has asked and you can't yet understand.

BUT... I was never asked a sacrifice for sacrifice's sake. I was never asked to sacrifice anything that it was not mine to sacrifice and most importantly I was never allowed the self-indulgence to say 'yep, I did X thing because I was commanded to!' - the emphasis was always on personal responsability and deliberate choice to shoulder it. Because choosing to follow or to surrender something was choice too and it was always mine to take.

Which it is not to say that Abraham sacrificed Isaac out of self-indulgence - His choice  was not that different from Agamemnon's sacrifice of Iphigenia and Agamennon was a Hellenic pagan king, that was seeking to placate Artemis for the accidental killing of one of Her sacred deers by following Her oracle. Artemis saved  Iphigenia, at least according some accounts, just like Abraham's god spared Isaac.

The reasons behind the sacrifice were different, but the parallel is there.  

I don't think the difference is in which religion or deity we follow, but in the boundaries we accept or refuse to set. Deities can or cannot have a different sense of morality but we are human and our morality is human - it's up to us to choose when to bend ours to theirs and try to be sensible about it, even if the choice puts us up to face unpleasant consequences (from Them or from our coscience).

This said, Abraham's god valued self-abnegation, obedience and humility in His devoted. I can see why He would test Abraham that way.

My deities have different 'priorities' - I believe none of Them would appreciate me accepting to do something blindly in general, but especially so if it went against my sense of justice and/or morality.
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Quote from: EJay;77148
Would any of you step outside your normal values if you truly believed your deity was telling you to?  Or would you jump ship, like I said I would in my little farce?

It would depend on what the deity wanted me to do, why the deity wanted it done, and -- in some cases, at least, what I would get out of it. I've told deities "no" before in cases where the answers were not good enough for me.
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Quote from: EJay;77148
Would any of you step outside your normal values if you truly believed your deity was telling you to?  Or would you jump ship, like I said I would in my little farce?

Do we only hang with our deities because we think THEY think like us?  Or are we true servants and should do as our God/desses bid?

 
I don't mind doing something contrary to my nature as long as it's not immoral or illegal (I wouldn't sacrifice my child, for example). If it was dangerous, I would also be less inclined to do it, depending on how likely it was I'd get hurt or die.

I think there's give and take here. We should listen to our deities, but we should also use our heads.
Leave your darkness with me, and I will make you shine.

Raven Rose

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Quote from: EJay;77148

Do we only hang with our deities because we think THEY think like us?  Or are we true servants and should do as our God/desses bid?

 
Jump ship. I wouldn't do anything that goes against my personal morals. OTOH, I don't think (for me at least, my own beliefs here) my God(s) would ever ask me to do anything "harmful/rude/not right" etc..

Aster Breo

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What If Your God/desses Asked You To Do Something Contrary To Your Nature?
« Reply #8 on: October 19, 2012, 02:51:05 pm »
Quote from: EJay;77148
Would any of you step outside your normal values if you truly believed your deity was telling you to?  Or would you jump ship, like I said I would in my little farce?

Do we only hang with our deities because we think THEY think like us?  Or are we true servants and should do as our God/desses bid?

As others have said, while the gods may see and know much more than we do, faith shouldn't be blind or automatic. I did not check my brain or my conscience at the door when I dedicated myself to Brighid, and I don't believe She would value me if I had done so.  I believe She expects Her people to think and question.

To a large degree, my response would depend on what was asked of me.  We all have our lines in the sand.  Some of my personal values are more important to me than others.  F'ex, I might not have a problem with lying, while I might not be willing to steal.

I also do not believe She would ask me to do something as drastic or horrible as killing my own child for no reason other than simply to demonstrate my faith.  However, if She did ask something like that, I would have to question whether She is really who I think She is, and I would very likely renounce my relationship with Her.

That said, I also believe that context matters, and I would have to evaluate Her request in context.  I believe there is almost nothing that is wrong in every single situation.  F'ex, killing someone.  In general, obviously, that is not something I would do, no matter who asked me to do it, barring a self-defense or defense-of-others kind of situation.  I've never felt that I would have a problem defending myself or my family, even if that meant killing someone who was threatening me/others.  

(I HATE it when characters on TV shows hesitate to shoot the bad guy who is holding a gun on them or their family.  I am as confident as I can be, without having actually lived the situation, that I would not hesitate to shoot the bastard.  Sorry -- that's a bit OT.  Just a pet peeve.)

However, as a hypothetical example, if Brighid asked me to help someone who was suffering great and incurable pain, and that help was in the form of helping them die, AND that's what the person wanted to do, I would have to seriously consider doing that.

I don't think we can usually know in advance what our gods will ask of us, nor do I think we can usually see all aspects of a situation.  But I think we have an obligation as thinking beings to try to be as informed as possible about our own actions and to take responsibility for them.  "Brighid made me do it" is not going to fly in court.  ;)

~ Aster
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Quote from: EJay;77148

Would any of you step outside your normal values if you truly believed your deity was telling you to?  Or would you jump ship, like I said I would in my little farce?

 
You know, I can totally see my primary god asking me to do something outside my ethics.  It would be something He would find convenient, I suspect, and thus He would get the thing He fancied or He would get the pleasure of having me tell Him to fuck right off.
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we shine like stars    - Covenant, "Bullet"

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Re: What If Your God/desses Asked You To Do Something Contrary To Your Nature?
« Reply #10 on: October 20, 2012, 07:15:40 pm »
Quote from: EJay;77148
Would any of you step outside your normal values if you truly believed your deity was telling you to?  Or would you jump ship, like I said I would in my little farce?


Another vote for 'jump ship', here, or at least a serious investigation into whether that message came from whom I thought it did and my relationship with that entity.

There are times I'm called on to do stuff I find uncomfortable and unpleasant because I'm shy, timid and deeply want to be liked.  For instance, at the moment I'm being prodded to stand up for myself more and to make some decisions about my work life, which has become messy and difficult.  But that doesn't violate my ethics in any way, it just challenges me to be a stronger person and stand up for myself.

But if it came to doing something that did genuinely cross the line - say regarding sex or my personal safety, hurting others, or in keeping with the original scenario, sacrificing my cat - I'd have whatever asked for that bounced out of my head and my house as quick as you can say 'salt water and iron nails'.

HeartShadow

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Re: What If Your God/desses Asked You To Do Something Contrary To Your Nature?
« Reply #11 on: October 21, 2012, 05:51:47 pm »
Quote from: EJay;77148


 
After I got done being baffled senseless -

I am a big believer that I do not have the right to give/sacrifice/whatnot anything that is not /mine to give away/.  So I cannot sacrifice a child, because he is not /mine/ - he is /HIS/ and I just am fortunate enough to be his mommy and share his world for a time.

I already have commitments - anything asking me to betray/negate the commitments I've already freely chosen, again, not bloody likely.  I might THINK about it - but if tomorrow I was told I needed to go be a celibate nun or something, I'd probably be rude as hell.  I have a family, going off to be a hermit might sound good some nights (and it does!) but I have commitments.  I'm not going to walk off on someone else's say-so, god or not.

I HAVE given over most of my *working life* - I work on FlameKeeping almost exclusively as work-work.  (sometimes fiction, when I can, but even then the lines can be .. weird).  I sacrifice /my time/ - and a LOT of it - and a certain amount of cash in service.  I take it on faith that it's right.  But I wouldn't give so much that I gambled my family's future on it.  My own life, I can.  Someone else's?  No one else can take that choice from them.

"go sacrifice your kid" would result in me checking myself into the nearest ER.  'cause WHATEVER that voice might be, I don't want it!

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Re: What If Your God/desses Asked You To Do Something Contrary To Your Nature?
« Reply #12 on: October 21, 2012, 06:45:41 pm »
Quote from: HeartShadow;77561
"go sacrifice your kid" would result in me checking myself into the nearest ER.  'cause WHATEVER that voice might be, I don't want it!

That's far too rational for a religious leader. :D:
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Re: What If Your God/desses Asked You To Do Something Contrary To Your Nature?
« Reply #13 on: October 21, 2012, 08:25:02 pm »
Quote from: EJay;77148
I just ran into a reference of Abraham being told by God to sacrifice his son, Isaac, and it got me to thinking.

If it'd been me, my response would've been, Really?  Then I would have removed all symbols of that deity from my house and hired an exorcist to remove all traces of any energy left behind.  And when the angel appeared and said, Just kidding! I'd've said, Haha, very funny, and slammed the door in their face.

Now that's extreme but it got me to wondering how far we, as pagans, will go to follow the "laws" of our beliefs in order to please/placate our deities.

Would any of you step outside your normal values if you truly believed your deity was telling you to?  Or would you jump ship, like I said I would in my little farce?

Do we only hang with our deities because we think THEY think like us?  Or are we true servants and should do as our God/desses bid?

 
I think it would be totally dependent on what was being asked of me...but I've never thought of myself as a servant to the goddess I devote myself to, so I'm pretty sure anything that required me to murder my family would end with a big fat "NO." However, if it was something out of my comfort zone that didn't involve harming others (in a homicidal kind of way) , then I'd probably bite the bullet and go for it.
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Re: What If Your God/desses Asked You To Do Something Contrary To Your Nature?
« Reply #14 on: October 22, 2012, 09:54:11 am »
Quote from: RandallS;77567
That's far too rational for a religious leader. :D:

 
ah, but I'm a guru with uppity minions that don't obey me.  I'm allowed to be an oddball religious leader. ....by being rational.

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