My father often preached that Christians (his variety) are to come out of the world, not be part of it. This was hammered into me, and although I didn't really think it was right, affected my mental and emotional state greatly. One of his strong beliefs was that when one married it was forever or at least until death of one of them. Therefore, no matter what suffering resulted, one made one's choice and was stuck with it. One thing that hurt me deeply and still does is his decision regarding a friend from his first pastorate in western New York state. My dad had taken a job as counselor (and fund-raiser, although that didn't occur to him until much later) with a Christian broadcasting company in Nebraska, one of the large and more successful of its kind. Back in New York, a family was members of the church at that time, and mostly otherwise kept to themselves. They were apparently well-off, older parents of a young woman, Charlotte. There were little prospects for a job in our town, and they were a bit Victorian and stand-offish. The young lady was obviously on track to become an old maid, caring for aging parents. Desperate for more, she wrote my father asking if there were any openings there for secretaries; she had studied that in school. Dad recommended her, and she moved to Lincoln and went to work.
We were invited once to her immaculate small apartment for dinner over the winter holidays. I can't say I enjoyed it, as I had taken a sit-down fall on ice skates a couple of days before, and obviously broken my wrist. My parents didn't think much of my complaining and didn't (or couldn't afford to) take me to the doctor, pronouncing it a sprain, as it didn't swell and I could move my fingers. (I know better now because the same thing happened to my own daughter, roller skating.) Just let me say I was it the worse pain of my life, then and during the whole visit, sitting on a love seat with my arm elevated along the top, praying (actually) that no one would sit down beside me and jostle the arm!
Lincoln is a military city. Somehow Charlotte met a Marine and fell in love. He was divorced as his first wife wouldn't put up with military life. He proposed! Charlotte was overjoyed; she had never expected to marry. She asked my dad to do the honors, tying the knot. Dad sat down with her and explained that she was making a grave error, that her Marine was still married in God's sight, and she would be committing bigamy. He couldn't "marry" a couple that would being living in sin. Subsequently she married in the courthouse, and broke off relations with my parents. I felt her grief, and always have. I knew better than to point out in the Bible that Dad adhered to, many patriarchs had more that one wife, etc.
Many members of religious sects are even more strict. This often,
as we see in today's conflicts, is used as an excuse to go to war; to
sabotage, to abuse their enemies and even the women
in their warped societies, and to hate. More often a hidden
motive is greed for power, territory, and revenge, with "faith" used as
an excuse. Those who condemn the sects now attacking overseas and even
on our own soil perhaps never studied, or have forgotten, history: the
Crusades, the Inquisition, Hitler's reign,
So what is the solution? I don't believe there is one, as we are just seeing human nature at its worse. All we can do is try to help one another, love one another, and realize that what hurts one of us damages all of us. I truly believe we are all searching for the same "God" and inventing different ways of defining His (or Her) true nature. Meanwhile we can only try to strike a balance between defending ourselves, and helping and accepting others.