We’ve talked quite a bit about the Covenant, about how ignoring it is perilous and leads us either on the one side to confusing our beliefs about reality with facts about reality – a very dangerous situation – or on the other side to turning a blind eye to or even invalidating our very real experiences and convictions as meaningless. Embracing the Covenant fixes all that. The Covenant is critical and vital, the first step without which the rest are pointless.
But it is not enough.
What the Covenant does is, if you will, set up the board and pieces properly in the game of life. It lets us start off on the right foot. However, the Covenant alone merely frames our conversations and endeavors. It provides space for our values, but does not suggest which values to embrace. It carves out a place for us to assign meaning to our experiences, but does not endorse any particular meaning. All the Covenant does by itself is inspire us to keep the factual stuff on the secular side and the contextual stuff on the spiritual side – but alone it does not even hint what sort of context we should use.
That’s what our spirit is for.
The Covenant does not tells us that these choices are healthy, good, or worthy of us, and those choices are not.
That’s what our specific chosen Spirituality is for.
To put another way, I believe it’s clear that the Covenant is a necessary fundamental part of any set of rational beliefs. But it is only a part, not the whole – without more than just the Covenant, a belief structure will be incomplete. And that’s where each of us come in.
Spiritualities come in all kinds of forms. Take a recent social development – the acceptance (or lack thereof) of humans with sexual orientations other than heterosexual – normally called LGBT for (I think) lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender.
Some Spiritualities find this unacceptable and claim it as a moral duty to oppose LGBT in all forms. Others preach tolerance or even embracement. Both sides could claim to be utterly Covenant compatible if both sides were committed to not mixing up their facts and their feelings.
And while it is true that from my perspective I see more contra-Covenant actions on the anti-LGBT side, there’s nothing about the Covenant by itself that is pro-LGBT. So long as the difference between fact and feeling is respected and observed, one could be utterly in accordance with the Covenant while still preaching that LGBT is “morally wrong” or “a sin”. (Although, the idea that it is a fact that sinning can get you sent to hell for real is utterly not compatible with the Covenant, since that claim is not justifiable by reason alone – i.e., it is not scientifically supportable. But so long as a “sin” is a spiritual concept and not considered factual, one doesn’t run afoul of the Covenant.)
Now, I myself am utterly pro LGBT. Just because I’m attracted to the opposite gender shouldn’t put any obligation on anyone else to be like me, is what I believe. Even further, I will admit to being repelled by the sight of seeing two guys lovingly kissing – to me it’s icky – but it’s not wrong and my discomfort should have zero impact on the choices of the LGBT unless I am willing to live my life under the same rules, unless I am willing to limit my actions to those that make no one elseuncomfortable. And my hope is that the more widespread LGBT acceptance is, the fewer people will grow up with the visceral reactions I have, and it won’t even be an issue.
These are my values. Not because the Covenant tells me to have them, but because my heart and spirit do. All the Covenant can do is frame the question of what we value, what we believe in, and what values we want to strive against, but it cannot answer those questions. We have to.
So please do not think that in promoting the Covenant I think that (were everyone to embrace it) peace and harmony would follow and people would no longer disagree. I simply think that what the Covenant helps us do is to have conversations about our differing values honestly and productively.
I hold the Covenant sacred, and I am pro-LGBT. Someone else may also hold the Covenant equally sacred, but be anti-LGBT. But at least the two of us would be able to speak the same language as we each tried to pursue our values. At least we would both would have to admit that neither value is more “real” or “valid” than the other impartially. We would be able to admit that the fundamental question and task of convincing ourselves, each other, and everyone else that our values are “good” or “healthy” or any other spiritual (but not secular) truth is our burden or calling if we choose.
Those who contravene the Covenant do create fundamentally irrational, broken belief systems. But embracing the Covenant is not enough, you still have to commit yourself to pursuing and embracing the good – and you need to find a spiritual path to figuring out what that “good” is, because for that, the Covenant alone is not enough.