Whenever the subject of religion is raised; I find myself thrown again fiercely into those hot innate debates of mine, about God, religious teachings, man's mission on earth, punishment etc. These debates are rather intense and interior for I do not always have the chance or probably the courage to voice some of my burning questions, biting doubts, dangerous suspicions, and violent rebellions.
My own speculations, thoughts, attitudes, and feelings about religion in general and my own religion in particular can be summed up in one major belief that I have; a sort of a conclusion that I came to; it might be also my own narrow understanding of what religion is; for I can never assume that I understand it or grasp my own particular religion. My conclusion is that religion always goes against the individual's freedom. This might seem a wild statement;but, truly, this is my feeling about the whole thing. For me, religion is more about the donots than the opposite; it is mostly about prohibiting, forbidding, restrciting, restraining, limiting, 'stifling', 'suffocating'... are these too much?
I sometimes try to explain or justify my propensity towards describing religion or viewing it from this probably 'narrow-minded' perspective by reminding myself that I am of a distinctively independent nature; freedom counts a lot to me; it is my major and principle slogan; it is my supreme ideal, my cherished trait; it is, in a way, my 'personal religion'!! And I find out, sadly, I must confess, that religion is about all but freedom, or that it works against it; both cannot go together; religion, I feel, attempts to smash freedom, to wipe it out, and freedom progressively withdraws into a dark corner to lament its status.
You might say to me that the individual is actually free to believe or disbelieve, to adhere to a religion or else choose to be an atheist; but, am talking here of hidden inner debates that take place when critical questions or important topics are raised and you are already in the 'grip of a particular religion'.
I remember a discussion I had with my teacher when I was 18. He was explaining to us how man agreed to be God's representative on earth and took this mission of taking care of it; the teacher said that man took this job because he is a free creature; and I could not understand that; I was arguing with him because I thought that the moment you are responsible for something or required to fulfill a mission, you stop being free since you are from now on subject to punishment if you do amiss? until this moment, I haven't been convinced by the link between freedom and responsibility.
I had another debate with one of my friends when I was a student. I was telling him about some of those questions that were driving me towards the peak of my rebellion; one question was why would God forbid us certain sins, knowing well or 'probably meaning also' that man is weak and that some can be easily seduced? WHY would God decide to make of me a weak, easily influenced or seduced creature while load my back with hundreds and thousands of donots, prohibitions? My friend said: 'well, that's the meaning of the test!' and I reply 'but why put me to the test while you know that I might fail? he says again: 'He created you; therefore, He might do whatever He wants with you!' and my inner soul crys out: 'but why Has He created me!!!'
Am still unconvinced.
What I hear from time to time about what is prohibited from the perspective of religion only worsens things; painting is sinful, dancing is, and singing, and acting, and poetry, and I speculate again about my religion's view of art; and I hear explanations, but am not convinced; then I hear what is said about women, and beauty, and cannot reconcile that with this: 'God is beautiful and likes beauty'; I try to understand, I subside for a moment; but then have those inner deabates again.
I go to pray, I prepare myself for fasting, I feel happy and like it; I enjoy doing it, I feel convinced, am delighted when fulfilling those duties; I know that when I need help, I can turn only towards God to find it; I admit that am a hypocrite; I know that God knows how hypocrite I am, I ask Him to forgive me, I want Him to feel happy and satisfied with a creature as rebellious as me. My tone changes from anger and bitterness to reproach and blame; I go to do my ablutions and prepare myself for prayer knowing that this night's religious fervor will be met by ,again, another inner intellectual debate,I go to pray having a wish: to whisper into His ears this: "But why haven't YOU given me/us just a little more freedom?"