I believe in certainty.
We live in an age where it is supremely unacceptable to laud the virtues of certainty anywhere outside the walls of a church. Scientific thought has infiltrated itself into even the realms of the spirit where it, admittedly, can’t say much. I try to have relativism about most things in life, accepting that people of different cultures and backgrounds may do things differently from me; but as regards my faith, I possess absolute certainty.
I am a Bahá’í. What that means, in short, is that I believe in the unity of world religions, that Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism, and Buddhism all are manifested from the same God. I believe in the fundamental harmony between religion and science, in the equality of the sexes, and that I am a citizen of the world more than a citizen of the United States. And I believe in Bahá’u’lláh, who brought the Bahá’í message of unity to the world in the mid 19th century, well before the concepts of racial harmony and the elimination of sexism were widely understood.
That said, I didn’t wake up perfect after finding this “absolute certainty.” I was raised to be ethical, not religious: to be pro-choice, sexually liberated, and, to use an expression, “cool with that.” So, finding myself within the conservative, protective walls of religious faith was, let’s just say, awkward at first. Bahá’ís don’t have sex before marriage, don’t drink alcohol or use drugs, they fast yearly, and are expected to devote their lives solely to the service of humanity. Though I got most of the message right, I had not just one, but two children out of wedlock, with my now husband, a rastafarian immigrant from West Africa.
And yet, that said, every day that I continue on my path as a Bahá’í, performing my daily ablutions—washing my hands and face with water—before saying my obligatory prayers, committing myself in projects that promote social equality, and, well, at least striving for a stainless morality—I find that my thoughts have settled into a groove I can best describe as a commoner’s “mandate of heaven”—so long as I remain on this path and continue to deepen my righteousness, God will only bless my endeavors.
Because if I live in a world where the Bahá’í Faith is a false doctrine—where hundreds of millions of Hindus, over a billion Muslims, the Buddhists and the Jews are all going to hell, then honestly, maybe the devil isn’t such a bad guy after all.