Mostly trying to relate.

  • talizorah
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    304 months ago

    I was raised a specific way with Christianity at the core of it. My mom was Catholic but didn’t really practice, my dad’s side had a history of church leadership, but it skipped a generation. Both of them went to a revival right before having kids. By the time I was born and aware, they were very dedicated members of a local Baptist church.

    I wasn’t allowed to read comics, watch most TV, listen to most music. I couldn’t watch most movies, we didn’t have cable, we didn’t have internet, so I was stuck thinking this is just the way it was.

    Even inside the church, I wasn’t allowed to play with certain kids, talk to certain adults. I wasn’t allowed to talk with girls… A lot of stuff I wasn’t allowed or supposed to do.

    I was ADHD and an Aspie, but my family didn’t really like that kind of medicine so I never took anything. High expectations to meet, and constant disappointment in my failure to meet them.

    Nonetheless, I believed the Bible, in God, in Jesus. I listened to the teachings and stories. I learned what I was supposed to be as a Christian: good, kind, caring, putting others first, denying yourself, etc. and I thought that was great. It made me very understanding of others, listening to them and meeting them where they were. It made me generous and kind, offering help with no hope for reward or return. I didn’t mind that I never got my way, was always wanting more… That didn’t matter, my reward would come later, just like the Bible said.

    ~

    Enter Obama. While I was excited about the advent of a new president but wasn’t yet old enough to vote, politics started to creep into religion. People blamed him and Democrats for everything, while reverting to scriptures and other doctrines to say why. After a soul searching moment related to the legalization of gay marriage, I realized that what the government did wasn’t at all pertinent or related to the church.

    The pastor I had at the time navigated this issue with finesse and grace. He called on our church members to follow the basics: the Bible applies to Christians, not non believers. And believers or not, we should treat everyone with kindness and love. Needless to say, he got subtly pressured to leave over the next year or so. I appreciate him a lot for speaking up and asking for love in a time of growing hatred. Last I heard he became a sports coach for a high school, living the example of showing love by doing, not saying.

    ~

    After that, with Trump on the horizon… My church devolved into the cesspool of trying to reunite religious law with common law. They wanted to outlaw gays because “the Bible says so”. They wanted to stop abortion because “the Bible says so”. They wanted to get rid of all the immigrants… Because the Bible said so? No, beyond those two points the Bible and Jesus were left behind, and instead the hatred started to pour out of these people. There was no love, it was only hatred and spite and fear. Trusting in God meant voting Republican. Doing his will was reduced to wearing red hats and saying “Lets Go Brandon”. Spending money on improving the nation and it’s inhabitants was socialism, the very enemy of the American people…

    And it was at that point I realized that the religion I was taught as a kid, of love and kindness to all mankind at your own expense… Was gone. You didn’t need religion to be a good person and to help others. Religion was being used like a crowbar in the gears of our democracy. And it seemed to be used similarly everywhere else, too.

    I had better access to the internet, interacted with more people, and found that my suffering as a kid came from a denial of science by my parents, and holding me to restrictions in the name of faith that did nothing but damage my growth.

    ~

    I like Jesus, the concepts, the teachings, the story. And wouldn’t it be wonderful if everyone who claimed to live in his name acted to his example? But nobody really does. I’ve been spending more time attempting to deprogram myself from religion and faith recently, because I’m pretty sure a day will come where that classic scenario would happen: someone will hold a gun to my head and ask if I believe. But it’s not going to be some godless terrorist bent on eradicating the “good news”. It’ll be some proud American patriot with Fox News pouring from his headphones, following his Republican Party’s call to action, killing those who don’t believe in what he does because he’s been told that’s the only way he’s getting heaven on earth.

    And despite whatever I may think, that day I’ll gladly say I no longer believe.

    • @[email protected]
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      114 months ago

      You pretty much nailed it. The teachings of Jesus are pretty great. Most important law there is? Love God and your Neighbor (okay I combined them but that’s what Jesus meant anyways). Jesus lived that way. You’d find him hanging out with the rejects of society, the ill, the prostitutes, etc. He wanted to raise the floor of society. He also was for separation of church and state. “Hey Jesus, you’ve got this new kingdom thing going on, do we have to pay taxes to the king anymore?” “Yes, give your king what’s his, and give to God what’s his.”

      But somehow these days it’s all about how you can word the Bible to help further your hatred. “Hey this one passage says if a man lays with a guy (boy? We aren’t 100% on that translation), he should be stoned, so that means we should hate the gays!”. Nope. Go back and read what Jesus was all about. Love your neighbor. Most important thing!

      I can’t really proudly call myself Christian, because I don’t really fit the current model of that. I barely attend church, I don’t hate any group. In fact I find all lifestyles fascinating and valuable. I accept all religions too. Your Buddhist? Cool. Tell me about it. Muslim? Awesome. You guys have some cool thoughts on giving to the poor (2% of your assets! Imagine if billionaires did that!). If Christianity is the correct religion, and Jesus is the only way into heaven, why can’t he talk to these people after death and decide then? I find it hard to say the Jesus recorded in the Bible would be like “you were good to everyone and a light in this world, but… You were Jewish so off to hell with you for all eternity!”

      It’s nice to live this way accepting everyone. I think the only reason I accept that I am still Christian is because I think this is how Christians should be anyways. It’s not about hate, despite what the current thinking is. I guess historically it’s always been used that way though.