In today’s world, religion can be used to sanitize the world. There can be no sane society without law. The law of the land is important. In religion, there are laws that control our behaviours and morals. God’s laws are very essential in our lives. There is no way we can evade the law. Evading it is like running away from one’s shadow. The laws protect us. Living according to God’s laws gives meaning to our lives. We cannot do whatever we like at the expense of others. Our behaviours and conducts are being censored by the laws, the society and law of God. Morality cannot be a matter of choice.
We cannot say that we are not in this world to meet the society’s expectations. Of course, the society wants us to meet its norms. Failure to meet societal norms will incur taboos and reprimands. The modern man is changing and he tramples upon the laws of the land and even God’s laws. There is truth and there is nohalf-truth. Failure to live the truth drives us to madness. We are suffering from collective selfishness today. We have criteria to discern what is right and wrong. Our ethical norms have not taken us far; and have not solved human problems because man does not heed to them.
It is not easy to justify ethics by pure reasoning. It is clear now that religion has been there in the last millennium. We cannot ignore religion. If we ignore religion, it is at our own peril. Today’s religion has been watered down by the modern man. Many people worship material things. Thus car, sex, and music, going on picnic, enjoying the luxuries of life, having many wives, dumping others and updating the old ones with new ones could be plausible goals for the modern man. This is so because many people lack moral compass. Today, the young ones don’t like to hear anything that will remind them of their past. They live for now. Tomorrow is not in their dictionary.
The insecurity of the modern man is disturbing. The modern man is cut off from the Transcendent Being; God. Modern men rebel against His laws. They take drugs to escape the meaning of life. Today, we have the problem of ‘suppressed meaning’. A great number of people still believe that religion can answer the problem of man, not politics. Our task is to prepare ourselves for the future. There are too many religions today and the modern man shops around for any religion that would not question his philosophy of life or a religion that is too strict. Today many pastors compromise a lot and preach only what people like to hear. This can be suicidal! When politics is without morality there is no belief in political salvation. Today is not the time to bring politics into religion.
Some politicians say that the church should not be involved in politics. They have taken advantage of absence religion in politics to do what they want. This is why things are the way they are in Nigerian politics. There is no harm in questioning the absurdities the politicians create in the world. E.g. should the Clergies continue bandaging the wounds of their members without finding out what wounded them? The church cannot remain neutral to things that confront their people. Politicians use the name of God the way we butter bread to enable it to taste better.
Man is his own problem. He creates problem by living outside God. Man needs to go back to God. We need the religious values. We should not allow world politics to destroy our values. We should not invade weaker nations because we are powerful. Look at political crisis all over the world. Can we solve these crises without morality? We must see ourselves as one people under the doctrine of universal brotherhood. There is an ultimate reality. We must recognize that we are brothers and sisters. We have a God who hates lies. Politicians must operate from the divine milieu.
So how can politicians divorce morality from politics? People’s right must be respected. God exists. There is no need for new codes; new religion and we cannot have new values. The values are already there. There is curious yearning for new meaning as if something is wrong with the old values. We cannot eliminate suffering by ignoring it. To believe in God is a great opportunity. Those in public life should stop this needless ambivalence in the meaning of life. Life has no equivalence. It is not enough to talk about religion in the abstract. It is not enough to say I am religious but we have to go beyond religion to discover ‘’who we are’’.
How do you persevere in God today? One who hopes in God will not be disappointed. Religion in the concrete sense is about values and experience of God in life. We should not just talk about religion: we should live it. There is danger of exclusivism in the church. After Mass, we ignore what had been said and pick what we like. To be on the safe side, we should be talking to ourselves and dialogue with others to discover the values we lost by ostracizing ourselves from God. We should not make our own god. Politics without morality is like living in the limbo of uncertainty. Those who are not for God are against Him. How can we assess the politics of today where there are many killings, existential crises created by politics operating with Machiavellian ethics?
Politics of today is all about materialism, power, acquiring wealth in quantum and handing power to those that will sustain our political dynasty. Anxiety will be very high following the declarations of various individuals to run for the presidency across parties with people paying a whooping sum of N100,000,000. Some even paid for other candidates in proxy with a candidate rejecting such gift. That is politics and not religion. Politicians do not consider “how you feel” “Who you wounded” but “how to win” Life should be win-win. However, morality examines “how you win” and the mode of politics you played.
Very Rev. Msgr. Livinus Ukah is a Catholic Priest, Author of many books and a Social Justice and Peace Advocate.