Turning from God does not lead to a better society

Turning from God does not lead to a better society

John Lennon urged us to imagine a world where there is no heaven and no religion. In his opinion, this would be a world where everyone lived in peace and there would be no greed or hunger. Freedom from the oppressive burden of God would inevitably lead to a good life in so many ways.

Maybe you’re not quite as idealistic as Lennon was, but many think along the same lines. Living according to the rules set by some god seems oppressive. It would be far better to live however we wanted, to worship (or not) as we felt like, and to just do what seemed best to us. Even for those who have grown up in the church, we can feel like those outside the church have a freer, easier life.

King Manasseh might well have felt the same in 2 Kings 21. He grew up when his father Hezekiah was reforming society and trying to follow the one true God. When he came to power, Manasseh immediately undid all of his father’s reforms. He allowed (and actively participated in) all kinds of different religious worship. Under his rule, you could worship the sun, the gods of Babylon, Canaan, or whoever you liked. You were free from the moral restrictions of the Law of Moses.

Did all of this lead to an ideal society, where everyone was happy? Well, no. As we read:

Moreover, Manasseh shed very much innocent blood, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another, besides the sin that he made Judah to sin so that they did what was evil in the sight of the LORD.

                                                                                                                                   (2 Kings 21:16 ESV)

As Manasseh became more free of God’s rules and did what he wanted, injustice increased. He became a dictator who claimed whatever he wanted at the expense of others. When there was no reason to care for the poor, no-one did it. When a society becomes too individualistic, it can become a place that is bad to live in. Freedom from religion does not mean a better life; it usually means a worse one.

Why is this? Well, if God is real, and God made the world we live in, it should be no surprise that living as this God commands leads to a better life. Unlike a society where we do whatever we want (often at the expense of others), a life spent honouring God will lead to more contentment, better care for the poor, and a better world for everyone.

We see this in our modern Western societies. As the culture moves away from honouring God to become more secular, it would be hard to conclude that society is therefore becoming fairer and better. The rights of the unborn are being eroded. The gap between rich and poor is widening. Community spirit is dropping with fewer involved in clubs and volunteering. Divorce rates are increasing.

And that’s before we consider the eternal aspect, of course! Those who trust in Jesus and live for the true God can expect a more content life now and a life with God forever.

Next time you’re tempted to think that life would be better without God, think again. What seems to lead to freedom only leads to discontentment and selfishness. Trust that the One who designed life knew what He was doing.