I was talking with some friends recently who don't approve of my religion. Atleast one of them doesnt' approve of religion at all. He is the kind of person that needs tangible proof. If he can't see it, or touch it, or quantify it, it must not exist. He ended our conversation the same way he ends most religious discussions, by saying, "I look at religion as a crutch.".
I tried not to argue with my friends while we talked. For one, their understanding of religion isn't very deep, so it is like trying to talk Quantum Physics with an Algebra student. Without the basic knowledge,my arguements won't make much sense to them. Two, I didn't argue because that isn't what religion is about. I present my beliefs, and they can agree, or disagree..it isn't my place to prove ir or force them to accept my beliefs.
I've thought alot about what he said about religion being a crutch. I actually heard this often when I was a missionary in Taiwan, and when I was living in China. Those who don't have a religion, think that it is some sort of subconscious psychological crutch we use to cope with troubles in life. Well, I would have to agree to some extent.
My religion does help me cope with life's troubles. God didn't give us religion because we are so wonderful, but because we are weak. You BET it is a crutch for me! It helps me overcome personal weaknesses. It helps me get through the tough times. It helps me have the faith I need to carry on from day to day. It gives me help to teach my children so they will turn out to be decent human beings. It gives me faith that there is more to this life than just procreation and fulfilling selfish desires. It gives me faith that we are eternal beings who don't just disappear at death. My relationship with God gives me great strength.
There have been many times in my life when I have needed knowledge greater than my own, and I prayed for help and received the knowledge that I needed. Is prayer a crutch for me? You BET! I couldn't have made it this far without the help I have received from prayer. One friend said, "You just BELIEVE you have received answers to prayers." He's right, I really do believe. I would be a fool to look at some of the miraculous answers I have gotten and chalk them up to coincidence or simple intentionality.
I guess the whole debate comes down to a deeper question than whether or not religion is a crutch. It comes down to questions about whether faith is a real power, and whether God really does exist. Those are not beliefs that can be proved. Unfortunately, faith is something people have to obtain for themselves. There is a story in the Bible about 10 virgins who were invited to a wedding. 5 of the virgins prepared their lamps with oil sufficient to see them through the wedding. 5 of the virgins did not buy any oil. When the call came to go to the wedding, the 5 foolish virgins begged the 5 wise virgins to give them some of their oil. The 5 wise virgins refused to share because they knew that if they did, their own oil wouldn't last through the wedding. Faith is like spiritual oil. No one else can share theirs with you. Each person has to store up their own reserve of faith. That way, when the tough times come, they will have the faith they need to get through the troubles.
Others can choose to disbelieve, and wait for physical evidence. But as for me, I will hang on to my crutch for all I'm worth, and store up as much faith as I can.