The Opiate of the Masses

Recently, in a Philosophy course, my mind was reminded of an old motto that modern education has decided to pull out of past. I am quite convinced of my disagreement with this idea, and decided that such contention is so interesting, I ought to share it. The philosophical roots: Karl Marx. The object: Religion. My goal: read on.

Statement by Karl Marx on Religion (circa 1843): “Religion is the opiate of the masses.”

My Modern Take: “Ignorance (negligence) is the opiate of the masses.”

Marx’s claims are based on the idea that religious individuals are complacent. One might ask, “What is complacent about taking my life out of Uncertain Doom’s hands? What is complacent about searching and finding the true meaning of life? What is complacent about having a purpose?” All too well, this world looks for meaning in the wrong places: beauty, personal interests, relationships, unfulfilled hopes, or abstract fantasies. We turn our eyes from the things we can work on in ourselves and indulge in pleasures that fill our sorrows for a time. The real opiate of today is forcing ourselves to be ignorant of our wrongs. The real opiate is the negligence that is so intently paid to the issues that plague our society. Religion is not an opiate. Religion, in respect to the Biblical view, brings a life full of abundant joy. Should one begin to assume that religion is crutch, I would say that in a way, it begins as a crutch for the broken. It allows gradual healing from the pains that plague our lives and carries us to a point where we can stand and say, “Thank you, Lord, for bringing me through.” It is not a crutch for people to be secure in excuses for sins, it is not a crutch that weak people have designed as a means of strength, it is not a crutch that is used to prop up our hurts for a time of rest. It is the personal relationship with God that props us up in a spiritual crutch, takes us along the Road of Reconciliation, down the Highway of Forgiveness, forward on the Path of Righteousness, and home to Streets of Gold. For by this way, religion is not an opiate but the true healer. It is ignorance, negligence, and complacency that keep us banged up and bruised, fallen and shattered, and lost in the storms of life because of our numbness to the truth. Religion, trust in the Lord for salvation and eternity, will lead us out of our darkness and into the light.