Once in a while I find myself blogging for the sole purpose of explaining myself. Perhaps it’s to avoid the exhaustion of having to have this conversation over and over again. I don’t owe this to anyone and I understand that there is the risk of losing a few acquaintances and weak friendships. If you are offended at any point you are free to stop reading. The intention of this post is not to offend, but to explain.
If you’ve known me for a while you’d remember that I was a little worse than your typical prissy, prude Christian girl. I went to church, participated in church activities and did all the things Christians were supposed to do. I was judgmental and annoying (for lack of a better word) to non-Christians and even Christians whom I felt behaved inappropriately. I frowned upon atheists, gays, promiscuous people, people who went to parties, catholics and almost everyone who was not in my little ‘circle of perfection’. I even went on a missions trip. My friends were people who said things like “Getting a degree is unnecessary because the second coming of Christ is soon and we should focus on that instead”, “Only gospel music isn’t evil. Soca, dancehall and all other forms of music are influenced by the devil”, “Men and women are not equal. Women are to be subservient.”, “Feminism is influenced by Satan.” My boyfriend was a virgin Christian rapper in his mid twenties. I was in…way too deep.
Even to write that Christianity is flawed brings a sense of fear and anxiety. It’s like remembering a recurrent childhood nightmare as an adult. And this is an essential part of the doctrine – fear. A commonly quoted verse is one that states that God has not given a spirit of fear but of power, love and a sound mind. However, a great part of Christianity involves instilling fear in order to control. Fear of burning for eternity, fear of loved ones burning, fear of God not protecting you because you sinned today, fear that your prayers aren’t answered, fear that you’re under a generational curse that can only be cured by some pastor’s deliverance ceremony, fear of others who may corrupt your righteous aspirations and put unclean thoughts and ideas into your head, fear of being friends with the ‘misled’, fear of eating food from ‘strange’ people, fear of losing money because you didn’t tithe, fear of education because it will distract you from God. How I fell in so deep I’m not sure. Perhaps it was the helplessness and vulnerability of being a teenager. Some fell into drugs, sex and alcohol. I fell into Christianity.
During my first year at university I made a friend who was unapologetically anti-christian and totally unconcerned about offending others. “You honestly believe a man put all the animals on a fucking boat to save them from a flood? You’re an educated woman in university. You speak four languages. How can you still believe in something so ridiculous? And what about the polar bears? Did he have a specific room filled with ice just for them? Foolishness.”
I was taught to feel sorry for him. He obviously hadn’t made enough space in his heart to let the good lord in. He had let the trials and bitter moments of his past create a wall of negativity which prevented the love of Jesus from entering. So I did what I was expected to – I listened patiently through his misguided rants, demonstrated myself as understanding, kind and gentle (So he could see Jesus shining through me and convert to Christianity as he walked home from the school cafeteria that night :)), prayed for him and requested that others pray for him during Bible Study (Which is usually juicy gossip covered under the veil of Christian righteousness)
Terrible cartoon inspired by Allie Brosh
This continued for years after I had met my friend who believed that we were monkeys on a rock flying through space in meaningless absurdity.
I can’t pinpoint the exact moment in my life when I had an epiphany. It was a progression I suppose. Certain events which led me further and further away from this cesspool of ignorance (For example, a friend of mine who broke her leg was told by one of our bible study leaders that this is what shepherds did even to the 99th sheep that runs away – he breaks its leg and carries it on its back because it has strayed too far. My friend could not walk. She was being told that this was because she had sinned and that Jesus was now carrying her on his back taking her to a place of purity and sinlessness. )
Moments like these caused me to ask …what the *expletive*? What the actual *expletive* am I doing here? With these people? People who think like this?
We are taught not to question and that if we do have doubts or queries, we are being influenced by Satan. Those doubts must be shut out immediately and we should focus perhaps on scripture that is understandable to us. We MUST ignore the graphic violence in the old testament, that the Bible is used as justification for hitting helpless children, that there are regulations about how one should handle his slaves (slavery is acceptable), that the wisest man is a sex maniac with commitment issues, that a rape victim was expected to marry her rapist, that it is acceptable for a woman to be publicly humiliated for not being a virgin (and that god is unaware that many virgin females he created do not bleed the first time they have sexual intercourse), that a woman can be stoned to death for not being a virgin , that god is superficial enough to hate you for the clothes you wear etc. etc. (This can all be found in Deuteronomy Chapter 22 however acts of hatred and murder can be found throughout )
In addition to my alleged holy book blatantly accepting hatred, misogyny, gender inequality, murder and countless other inhumane acts, and that Christians appeared to be some of the most judgmental and intolerant people I knew, I was propelled to ask myself two questions.
1. If the Christian God is perfect, why didn’t he make his book and doctrine perfectly understandable instead of allowing a myriad of contradictions to be stuffed into a book with different translations, versions and interpretations? Many Christians will tell you that it’s to cause us to develop trust and faith. Think about it though. Would a PERFECTLY sensible being take such a risk with his creations who are important and precious to him?
2. Can you imagine setting fire to your worst enemy? How about your child? One you have nurtured from the womb. Maybe he or she is a disobedient teenager now. They do not listen to what you tell them to do. Can you fathom setting them on fire for their disobedience? You can’t. (If you can I recommend immediate psychological help).
Yet a just and perfect god does this to his children. Not just for a while but for an ETERNITY.
Now if YOU don’t possess enough evil in your heart to set fire to your children, yet God is purely good and does this, where does this innate goodness in your heart come from? You know that it is wrong to set people on fire and you’d never do it to anyone you loved. Yet God does it. Are you more perfect than he his? Or does your goodness make you evil?
If the part of you that finds it totally unacceptable to set your children on fire is good, does it come from ‘God’? Or is it evil?
Yet you are not allowed to ask yourself these questions.
Ignore, Trust and Obey.
If you do believe anyway you have reached a certain superior level of spirituality as the following pictures I found on Christian websites demonstrate:
An example of Christian encouragement / art?
Another example of Christian encouragement / art?
True understanding is replaced by pride that one has been chosen to understand the ‘secrets of the spirit’- that one has been favoured by God to understand. However true understanding and a belief that one has understood are completely different. It is simply an undeserved sense of superiority.
I sat down with a Buddhist friend some months ago and expressed that I would probably be treated differently by my friends back home because my beliefs had changed. That I would probably be ostracized and seen as an agent of the devil. She replied “Just tell them you’re Christian” But I can’t. It doesn’t feel right to lie about who I am to be accepted. Isn’t it ironic though that one risks being disliked for having different beliefs by people whose religion allegedly teaches love and acceptance?
When people ask me about my religious affiliation now I tell them that I am becoming like my mother – the most caring, selfless and loving person I know – who is not led to behave this way because she is trying to secure a comfortable spot in a mansion in the afterlife but simply because it is right. Simply put, I have decided to do right because it is right. To feed the hungry child because she is hungry and I have food; not because my act will give me another jewel on my crown in heaven.
To my moderate to non-Christian friends whom I judged in the past, I’m sorry.
To my Christian friends who are reading this sorrowfully with the intention to ‘reconvert’ me please realize that some friends are seasonal and perhaps you are one of them. I appreciate what we have been to each other in the past but if our relationship is not strong enough to overlook my spiritual convictions then it is time to go our separate ways. I still accept and love you the way you are but please do not invite me to your church.
To my free thinking friends who thought this day would never come, thanks for never giving up on me and for sticking around through my temporary phase of insanity.