Research shows a continuing decline in religious belief as well as its association with morality; however, an old Jewish tale perfectly exemplifies and explains the value of religion in society.
The following old Jewish tale was shared by Dieter F. Uchtdorf in an article that appeared in the April 2017 edition of Ensign Magazine, and reposted by Called to Share.
A soap maker and a rabbi were walking one day.
“There is something I cannot understand,” the soap maker began. “We have had religion for thousands of years. But everywhere you look there is evil, corruption, dishonesty, injustice, pain, hunger, and violence. It appears that religion has not improved the world at all. So I ask you, what good is it?”
The rabbi didn’t respond immediately, but continued walking and pondering.
As they walked, the two men approached a playground, where they saw children covered in dust and playing in the dirt. They stopped.
“There is something I don’t understand,” the rabbi said. “Look at those children. We have had soap for thousands of years, and yet those children are filthy. What good is soap?”
The soap maker replied, “But rabbi, it isn’t fair to blame soap for these dirty children. Soap has to be used before it can accomplish its purpose.”
The rabbi smiled. “Exactly.”
“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.”
– James 1:22-23
Any ability or skill we have in life generally tends to diminish without use or further practice of the activity.
For religion to be of any benefit, one has to put it into use.
For religion to be effective, we can’t just talk about it or preach. We have to put what we’ve learned into practice.
“What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”
– Philippians 4:9
Before we can be effective at all, we first need to deal with ourselves. Repent of our sins.
“Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.”
Be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Receive the Holy Spirit so that we operate out of the spirit of Christ.
“And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
When do this, God in us will begin to radiate from us.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
–2 Corinthians 5:17
A 2018 and 2019 study by the Pew Research Center found that 65% of American adults describe themselves as Christian. The number represented a 12% drop from the previous decade.
Those who don’t believe anything didn’t change much during the decade, with the number of atheists rising from 2% to 4%, and the number of agnostics growing from 3% to 5%.
Another 2019 study found that only 44% of American adults believed it was necessary to believe in God in order to be moral and have good values. In other words, 56% of Americans don’t believe God is necessary for good morals and values.