Philosophy starts (and one may effectively joke ends) with a question. Here’s one. Why fear God? Mike writes:
The total lack of the fear of God is what marks the ungodly. (Romans 3:18)
I’d argue that it is a transpersonal love of God and all sentient beings which marks the godly. If it says anything, then the fear of God is the mark of the controlled. It is control that mars organized religion. Why was there such a backlash against The Golden Compass and The DaVinci Code? Because both books where at their core about the control exerted by the Church. Regarding the Golden Compass and the His Dark Materials Trilogy, Amanda (Pandagon) observes (warning, rest of review contains major spoilers):
the concept of original sin was not sexualized by accident, but instead was a tool to poison people’s intimate relationships with misogyny and shame , and cripple our collective development into better people.
You see, if one’s relationship with God is one of fear, then one acts like a child with an authoritarian teacher. A Matilda in a Miss Trunchbull’s class. The problem for organized religion is that God is not marred by imperfections like hate, jealously, or pettiness. And when we step outside the confines of organized religion, and re-affirm our natural relationship to God is one of love, we become enamored of a life in which all the rich promise of religion is realized without the stunted self expression that supposedly must accompany it. We find that the God described in scripture is at odds with the notion of a perfect being, and find that the subtle warmth in the depths of our being has been inviting us inward all along. We leave Miss Trunchbull a quivering mess of harmless anger, and walk into Miss Honey’s waiting arms.
So don’t fear God. God is not some thundering mountain deity who will give crops or withhold rains if we live outside narrow rules of conduct. Humans make such rules. God is an eternal fountain of love and light, the inner teacher who always has time to nurture, guide and comfort.
Fear of God speaks in religion’s political tongue. Love of God is our shared language.
As far as how we should conduct ourselves, how cynical must we be to require fear of heavenly punishment to behave correctly? We know how to behave justly, and when we are truly lost, it is not a fear of God that will guide us. It is a love without limit.