Religion has always been a fascinating topic for me. After all, what else wields the power to cause centuries of bloodshed, wage wars and incite terror in such a way that religion does?
Despite the many obvious or repetitive questions, I've pondered for some time now the hypothetical situation of a Jew, a Catholic and a Christian all walking up to the pearly gates. Ultimately, they, along with countless other religious factions, all share the same God. They just all tell the story a little different. It's often described as cherry-picking and while I do think there's some truth to that, I am of the belief that the differences in the biblical beliefs are down to a sort of intuition. It's based on what best fits one's own personal agendas. For example, a progressive-type will believe that God does not hate homosexuality, whereas as conservative will. This has nothing to do with what the bible has actually said, rather it has to do with the personal beliefs of each person.
The issue for me, though, is it leads me to question a hypothetical situation. For the purposes of the hypothetical, let us assume that God is undeniably real. Let us believe for a moment that his will is written in a Holy text and we are to follow his rules or face eternal damnation. Given the threat of damnation, how do you choose which religious group to follow?
If you believe what groups of Jehovah's Witnesses will say, homosexuality is a sin and will earn you eternal damnation. However, other Christians will preach the "love thy neighbour" scriptures. In some, you can eat pork, in others you cannot. According to some groups a wife must be submissive, while in others, women must be revered.
Baptists will state the Old and New Testaments are to be upheld, whereas Judaism rejects the New Testament. There seems to be no way to win your way into Heaven without, well, pissing God off in some other way.
If this is true, who gets in? Who does God accept as the true believers, the true followers of his will? Does God have a consolation prize for those who tried but just didn't quite make the cut? Does God become angered at misinterpretation? Will be punish those who shed blood in his name, despite it being in the scriptures that he suggests it be done? If there is a very good chance you're following the misinterpretation, is there any point in caring? Surely that would mean that Hell is beyond capacity with decent, moral people whose only mistake was reading the bible the wrong way.
Someone wise once said to me, "I don't want to go to Heaven. Heaven is a place where no matter what atrocities you commit, if you say you're sorry you'll be accepted. I don't feel like rubbing elbows with Hitler like he deserved to be there." That response to biblical beliefs has stuck with me and I continue to hold it firmly close to my own heart.