There is this idea that has been bubbling at the back of my mind for a while now. I have some people in my life who are very firmly of the opinion that one should never disagree with the Gods. I have other people who pointedly refuse to even consider situations where they are in a position where disagreement could come up. I sit here and I look at this with a question in mind. I can’t help but wonder where does the dividing line between piety and free will land on these sorts of matters. I know that some people would argue that disagreement with one’s Deity is tantamount to blasphemy (or worse).
I look at my experiences and I find myself not inclined to agree with the premise that one who is devoted to their faith must always agree with their Gods. I just can’t shake the idea that we have free will and this extends to if we are going to agree with the Gods on everything. Some Gods will demand that their believers adhere to all points they set forth and make agreement part and parcel to worship and devotion. I can appreciate that relationship dynamic but it strikes me as an outlier rather than the norm.
I am not the most pious person. I freely admit this. But I don’t think that piety consists of slavish adherence to a set of rules. It is my understanding that piety is a mind set. One can perform the ritual gestures of worship from a mindset that is not fully engaged and focused upon what the meaning of said rituals are. I tend to call this lip service to faith. It is, from what I have seen, a more shallow way of worship and focuses upon ritualism. Now, for some people this is what works for them and what they can engage in given their life circumstances and needs. I try not to look down on ritualists, but it is hard for me to see this as operating on the same level as people who make the conscious choice to engage in the ritual, understanding all the meanings of the ritual and the role one assumes in enacting it.
A pious person is someone who approaches Deity with respect. It is a person who approaches them with careful regard for the role Deity plays in their relationship with the person in question and the world at large. The person who pours out a glass of water in offering for their gods and is fully invested in said action, in my opinion, are more pious than the person who pours out a bottle of expensive malt whiskey with out that sense of engagement and conscious action. Piety is an intersection between right mind and right action. (And right action is fluid because life changes and the actions demanded of us will change as our relationships with Deity change and develop.)
Coming back to the question of disagreement with the Gods, I think it is possible for a pious person to disagree with the Gods. I think that we can not only disagree with the Gods, but express said disagreement in a manner that is respectful of the Gods. I am a strong proponent that every person is having an individual relationship with Deity and that they experience Deity in a manner that is best for them to comprehend at that time. As such, the Gods may place something in our path that we will disagree with. And I think that the Gods expect said disagreement and will observe us to see how we respond.
I think there are cases where the Gods test us via disagreement to see if we will stick with our oaths to them (such as an oath of obedience being tested with an action required that the worshiper opposes). I also think that there are cases where the Gods set up situations that we are going to disagree with as a way to get us to change our thinking and our mode of addressing situations. Finally, I think that the Gods present us with situations that will provoke our disagreement as a way to open up further dialogue between us and them.
I don’t think that disagreeing with the Gods is an instant case of impiety. I think it is rather a situation where we’re called to look at the situation, question it and our role in it it, and reassess where we stand. I think that such situations are vital for a person to have a faith that is ‘living’ because continual reflection and reassessment is the way we grow. The question of impiety arises when we approach how to handle this disagreement.
The pious person will approach the disagreement as though it is a communication breakdown between themselves and the Gods. They will try to find away to respectfully handle the challenges that arise from it and actively seek ways to maintain their respectful relationship with Deity as they do so. The pious person will maintain the right mind circumstances even as they work to reestablish what the right actions are for the situation. The impious will lose sight of the necessity of respect and abandon the search for what the proper response to the situation will be.
In all things, we are in a relationship with the Gods. Piety is the expression of respect towards them. Just as a person’s relationship with another is going to be different from their relationship with yet another person, so too shall the individual relationships with the Gods be different. There will be vast swaths that are going to be similar between people. This is how organized religions developed, from people recognizing the shared elements of their individual experiences with Divinity. I think that if we would be wise, we would remember that our individual relationships with the Gods is going to be different for each of us. Thus, we must remember that piety will manifest a little differently with each person.
TL:DR version – It is OK to disagree with the Gods, provided you maintain respect for them.