Yesterday, I read in the Sydney morning Herald that a mother has been told that her son is not able to celebrate his bar-Mitzvah because according to the Orthodox rabbis his circumcision is not complete. Although he was circumcised on the eighth day, by an authorised person supervised by a rabbi, the job wasn't done quite right and now he has to have a special operation to fix the job, if he is to celebrate his bar-Mitzvah in an Orthodox synagogue. The mother decided to try a more liberal rabbi.
The outrage over the comments of Sheik Hilaly comparing women who don't wear the hajib to uncovered meat that attracts cats continues to fuel debate and controversy. The Sheik apparently thinks that men cannot control themselves and shouldn't be blamed if they commit rape and other forms of sexual assault.
Both of these situations illustrate the heart of the religious spirit.
You don't change a person's heart by dealing with their outward appearance or behaviour. Covering a woman's body does not deal with the heart issues in a man regarding lust and power. In the Old Testament, there are several accounts of men raping women and this was in a society where women covered up. The prophets said that circumcision of the flesh was less important than circumcision of the heart.
In other words we need a change of heart more than we need a change in outward behaviour.
Religion, whether Judaism or Islam or institutional religious christianity will not change our heart.
We need a living relationship with God, through the grace of Jesus Christ to change our hearts.
Religion will only bring death, but the Spirit of God bring life.
The problem with religion, in all its forms, is that it deceives us into believing that if we do things we will be OK with God. There is no religious thing you can do that will make you righteous. You can pray and fast all you like, make pilgrimages, wear the right clothes and attend various ceremonies… it is all useless.
The promise of God is that if we turn to Him with a truly repentant heart, and receive the sacrifice of Jesus, then we will find love and forgiveness, a new start that makes us truly righteous.
Give your heart to Jesus today. He will give you a new heart, a new start, a new life.
That's better than any religion can offer you.