Religion: Opiate of the Masses?

416px-Marx7John 5:39-40: You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.

Karl Marx said “Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.” His criticism was that man makes religion, not religion makes a man. What is amazing is that his philosophy became a religion to many and to be honest it was his religion and it was man-made, the very thing he complained about. Which is probably what he wanted, but I wonder if he knew he was becoming the very thing he hated.

His criticism has some merit, though. Throughout history men have sought to dominate other men, to enforce their ideals upon another race or another religion or another culture. What is even more interesting is the vehicle that man uses in his attempt to dominate other men … it is religion.

When we look back through history it is obvious that religion has been the primary method of manipulating people to do the will of the one in power. Babylon did it, Greece did it, Rome did it, Italy did it, England did it and Germany did it. It is really surprising how many countries have used religion as a pawn in their struggle for power and dominance, but I think it is even more surprising how many people and interest groups have done it.

Just look at some of the things that have happened in our culture in America. Here are just a few examples of where a group’s agenda overrode God’s agenda and they used the Bible to justify their actions: America’s use of Slavery, objectification of women, treatment of women as property, the taking of the land of the Native Americans, and by the KKK or just people to oppress African Americans.

It doesn’t stop with official interest groups; you don’t have to look far to see where individuals are using the Bible to justify their own sins. Though radically different than using the Bible to oppress other people, it still is the same sin; and probably the most prevalent in our day is using the Bible to justify gay marriage or to have sex outside marriage. Because “surely Jesus didn’t mean I couldn’t have sex with my (insert whatever you want)”.

Have you ever wondered why the Bible? Have you ever wondered what must happen in order to use the Bible in such a disgraceful way? It is actually really simple. The first step is always to destroy the authority of the Scripture so that it can be discarded, reinterpreted, or outright disobeyed.

The second step is the ascension of your agenda or your group’s agenda over the authority of the Scriptures. This can be accomplished in a variety of different ways, like when your feelings become more important than what the Scriptures say or when your sexual orientation becomes more important than what the Scriptures say or when a new prophet’s words supersede the teachings of Jesus or when your political allegiance runs counter to the Bible and you decide to follow the party line.

When any of these things becomes more important than God and His word, they become our god’s and we follow them instead of the Truth. This is idolatry. To be honest we have become a country of idolaters

To be honest, though, this is nothing new. As a matter of fact, in Jesus’ day men and religious leaders did the same thing. They used the Bible in their attempt to force others to be just like them. Jesus said you search the Scriptures for eternal life, but Eternal Life isn’t there … it points you to it. Jesus is ETERNAL LIFE and Jesus alone.
So here is the litmus test: Examine your life. Take a deep breath ask God to shine the light of the Holy Spirit in your life and ask yourself the question: Has your agenda, your sexual orientation, your political party, or anything else become more important than what God says? Because if it has, you have looked to that thing for eternal life instead of Jesus and it has become your idol.

So what’s your Golden Calf and will you repent of it?

Image: Karl Marx; source:;public domain/copyright has expired

About the author: John Renken

A self proclaimed “scrapper” since childhood, John Renken grew up with a burning interest in physical challenges and a strong competitive spirit which has led him to develop quite an impressive reputation in the professional fighting community. Reaching the pinnacle of his career, Renken now has over 68 professional mixed martial arts and boxing matches under his belt and many first place titles spanning three different continents. A former Satanist, Renken’s life has taken many interesting twists and turns along the way to redemption. He now pastors a church called Freedom Church and writes about topics of interest in our country.

View all articles by John Renken

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