Monday, March 12, 2012

Clean Living

Somewhere around the time the Steelers and Broncos were to play in the NFL Wild Card game this year I read a column by a couple of writers, one from each city. It was a comparison of the Christianity of Ben Roethlisberger and Tim Tebow.

Everyone knows about Tebow's showy brand of Christianity, with his prosthelyting reaching such a height that his very move to bended knee, despite it's commonality as well as similarity to Rodin sculptures, has become a verb tense of his name. Less known is that, post allegations of sexual assault in a bar, Roethlisberger has returned to his family's Christian roots and married a nice church girl.

I've been a Steelers fan as long as I can remember, so I like seeing Ben settle down. The partying and stupid things like riding a motorcylce without a helmet, legal though it is in the ever crazier commonwealth of my birth, were destructive behaviors that were bound to catch up with him at some point if he didn't change. I guess the assault allegations were the impetus.

Still, I find it puzzling and troubling that so many people who engage in these sort of behaviors have to go through a church to stop. Instead of taking a look at themselves and what they're doing to reach an intelligent conclusion that it's not sustainable, they exchange the crutch of excesive consumption for the crutch of religious orthodoxy. Having a religious group, whatever its creed, tell you what to do isn't much better than being beholden to your impulses.

I'd much rather see Ben or anyone else with similar problems grow in the strength of himself, able to make decisions for himself that promote a longer, healthier life, beneficial to himself and others. Taking on someone else's creed isn't doing that. It's abdicating decisions for yourself.

Maybe Ben will take another step and learn that he can make decisions without consulting a higher power or institutional doctrine. Most don't because they associate non-religious thinking with the destructive behavior that they were engaged in. But it's not the non-religious thinking that was the problem. It was the lack of control.

I've been an atheist all my life. I've never had a problem with drugs or alcohol. I've never harrassed anyone. Well, harrangued for stupidity and such, but not sexually harrassed. I've been married nearly 20 years. I have two children who, so far, appear to be responsible and headed toward fruitful, happy lives. It's not necessary to have a religious doctrine to be a responsible person. I make the hard decisions in my life based on as reasoned a line of thinking as I can muster, independent of rules that have their origins 2000 years ago in an agrarian society that was afraid of a lot of things, like gay people and women.

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