Marx: religion as, “the opiate for the masses”.
Even though today we have taken this phrase out of its original context, with perception being what it is, the question remains, is religion (Christianity) an opiate for the masses?
Opiates are an artificial means to a high used to ease or escape some current affliction for temporary relief. So the question is…
Is Christianity artificial?
Many would argue, YES, ironically, Marx would not. In fact, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that Karl Marx was not an atheist, but rather, against God. However, the argument that Christianity is a “fake” is a difficult one to make given today’s scholarship. We may disagree on who Jesus is, but to say He was completely invented is an argument that no longer holds its ground. (Watch the video: I don’t believe in God because I think it was all made up.)
Is religion a “high”?
For some, Yes. Religion is another “feel good pill”, or something I do to make me feel “better”. While God does and will provide consolation, it’s not about this. And if we get hooked on those consolations, then Marx is right. If we are in it merely to “feel good”, we may need to re-examine our motives just as if we would if we were in a marriage merely to “feel good”. There is so much more. God doesn't want us to get hooked on his “good feelings”, he wants us to get hooked on Him, as any passionate lover would.
Is religion an escape?
Religion is about as far away from an escape as San Diego is from say… Pluto. In fact, a relationship with God is the anti-escape. It’s more like a giant 1000x magnifying mirror that reveals even the most hidden blemishes and blackheads of our soul. Only when we see them for what they really are, can we remove them once and for all, and God will provide the tools (and this doesn’t always feel good).
Do you really think she did it just for a high or to escape?
Is religion temporary?
For many of us… unfortunately, it is. We are temporary creatures. Hot/cold, in/out, short attention spans, bored easily and disenchanted easily-er. In the grand scheme of things, our lives in this place are temporary. Our culture, our world, the universe and everything in it… is temporary. God is the only constant.
Freud: religion as, wishful thinking.
Freud theorized that it was our early, collective psychology of - neediness - that projected the “illusion” of an idyllic, benevolent, loving father, to comfort us from the harsh realities of life, protect us from our violence, and forgive us of our guilt.
And he was probably right… about countless ancient beliefs and their deities. But this is not Jesus. Jesus was a living, breathing, historical, figure who walked the earth at a specific time, in a specific place, was recorded, believed in, and followed to this very day. Jesus is no psychological projection just as Abraham Lincoln is no projection.
However, isn’t it interesting that Freud, the father of psychology, identified our deepest psychological need of being loved, of being comforted, of being protected and being forgiven.
The Real Illusion
Maybe it is not God that our psychology projects, but rather the image of strength that is the illusion. We are unceasingly bombarded by these images… aren’t these the artificial, the escapes, the opiates of the masses? And maybe it’s when we can shed this image, like throwing down a heavy armor, and are - ok in our weakness - that God can finally get through to the flesh, un-impeded. And once he is in, he brings his strength with Him. And then we are strong. And it is in this sense, that God is for the weak.