Why do we, as humans, hold to the idea that if your good you go to heaven?
Heaven is not a Christian only concept here. Almost every religion believes, to some degree, that if you live a good life and do what is right, you will be rewarded in Heaven or a from of it. Where does this concept come from?
Is it something that we are born with to know that there are repercussions for our actions or is it just something we are born with in order to sustain the species? I tend to lean toward the former as you see it in the structure of our society.
In the wild, you see natural selection. The survival of the fittest. Those who are weak often killed off or left behind in order to protect the future of the species. You will see some members demonstrate that wonderful thing of altruism, but it is rare. With humans though, we pride ourselves for trying and reach out and help those that are less fortunate than ourselves. Homeless and abuse shelters. Food banks and outreach groups. All are popular, but would we do it at the risk of our own life though? Probably not. There are always those exceptions, but when you look at people as a whole, they are primarily concerned with their own survival and comfort.
In the wild, we see authority structures setup. Someone is in charge and there are rules for an individual in which to conduct themselves in order to benefit the society as a whole. Humans do the same thing, but with a twist. Not only do we look after our own protection, we want to make sure we are comfortable as well. You don’t see this in nature. As humans, we don’t want our feelings to be hurt or to be taken advantage of. In the wild, the one that breaks the rules is often killed or at least cast out of society. Humans might kill the offender, but this is becoming more of a rare punishment. Instead, we like to warn them first and then isolate them from the mass of society. Maybe this is because our lives are not in jeopardy. Even when they are isolated, we still provide for them.
So, does the idea of heaven develop out of the notion that we are afraid of our life ending when we die? Does our innate sense of right and wrong help to determine who goes and who gets left out? Is the concept of heaven just a motivation tool that society uses to control those who are not willing to comply with the rules? Our sense of right and wrong is the standard that we use to see if we make it in. I helped an old lady with her lawn and I never killed anyone, so I should be good enough to get in. The method we met that standard is to compare our actions to another’s. We don’t dare compare our thoughts, because then we would be in trouble. No, just our actions and behaviors. This way we have room for improvement, but still feel good about ourselves.
When we make that judgment call, we make ourselves gods. I am better than person X, so I am more deserving to go to heaven than they are. It is a nice plan until there is a entry limit placed on this heaven. If there is only room for 3 and 6 people wanting in, what is the deciding factor that is used to determine who goes? What is morally acceptable for one group may not be the same as for another. If you are gay in Uganda, chances are you wouldn’t think you would get in. If you were in England though, it is acceptable so surely that would not be the deciding factor. So where is the standard for all of humanity to know how to get in?
Maybe this is where being good comes in to play. If I am aware of the consequences of not being good, and I try hard to be good, I can go to heaven when I die. Maybe there is no limit on how many people can make it, so no one is left out.
Why do so many who proclaim Christianity, falsely hold to this belief then? If I do what is right, I will be rewarded. That isn’t what is promised, so why delude ourselves and hold to that concept? Christianity is not about being good or doing good. It is about submitting to God. We need to move past this concept of moral superiority because of our religion and move into the relationship with our God. That is how we get to heaven.