church (23534)

For many years of my life I was a Christian. I found the moral teachings of Jesus useful. I enjoyed the social aspects of church. I think the Bible is a cultural literary gem, well worth being acquainted with, even for the non-believer. I also took comfort in prayer. At the time I was Christian, I really thought someone was listening to me when I was praying. I liked the philosophical idea that "God had a plan." I took comfort in thinking there was a reason for everything.

During the time I was a Christian I met and married a man who was a Fundamentalist Christian. He was a person who did not believe there were metaphors in the Bible. He did not believe in evolution. He thought the Bible was to be taken literally, even if it contradicted itself. I'll call him "Howard" because that was his name. Howard was a deacon at the Assembly of God Church we attended. Howard could speak in tongues, although he did not have the gift of interpreting them. Speaking in tongues as I observed it, was not as exciting as I had anticipated. I was told it was the language of God and angels. Unlike a real language it has neither syntax nor grammar. In fact he repeated the same phrase every time he went into his trance. There was never any variance.

Lest you think that the whole language was only one phrase I will clarify. When other members of the church or visitors spoke in tongues they used their own phrase. Apparently each person who speaks in tongues gets one. One of the people used the phrase "Talitha" which was in the bible, maybe he forgot. In his subconscious mind when he was speaking in tongues "Talitha" took on a supernatural meaning. Another liked to use the word "Abba" which is also in the bible. They didn't read the bible very often, and never cover to cover. They liked to pull verses out as references. For example if someone didn't feel like organizing the church picnic the board member would quote scripture by saying "God doesn't give you more than you can handle." And the regulars would accept that decree as the gospel truth because it was in the bible.

After my husband left me I realized that scripture isn't true. God did give me more than I could handle. I realized if that scripture was false than other scriptures might be false. I fell away from my belief as contradiction after contradiction stacked up against having faith. It did not help to find my former church mates were enabling my husband to stay loaded. Because they believed that Jesus Christ had already saved Howard, they never had a proper appreciation for the damage his drug use did to his liver and his life.

They put more credence on faith healing than physical healing, which play neatly into a manipulative drug addict's agenda. With Church members buying him clothes and DVD's Howard was able to sell the stuff and score more drugs. They also helped him leave the VA drug treatment program and put him into the Salvation Army program. Once safely ensconced at Bell Shelter, Howard boasted to me how easy it was for him to get drugs in rehab. Well of course it is, Christians are encouraged to forgive seven times seventy-seven times. They would never kick him out for using.

My non-fundamentalist Christian friends were more disappointed than the fundies with my loss of faith. Many of them had long ago accepted the bible as metaphoric. They attempted to reconcile me. I feel beyond the pale. The problems I uncovered with the belief system seem insurmountable.

The issues I currently have with Christianity:

1) While I believe in historic Jesus as a person who lived and died, I do NOT believe a fatherless man died for the purpose of redeeming my sins. To the contrary, I think any person who has witnessed the loss of my home, my marriage, my job, my health, my dog etc. would HAVE be convinced I am paying for my own errors.

2) I dislike the influence the Christian culture has on causing people to see things in dichotomy. For example people are judged "good" or "bad", "saved" or "unsaved". I do not see this as a useful model for navigating life, as I currently believe "good" people are capable of "bad" behavior, and dangerous people, like Howard, are certainly capable of "Christian" behavior. I can't even comment on "saved" verses "unsaved," because I no longer believe a personified God is judging me as wrong for enjoying extramarital sex, practicing yoga, lacking submission, divorcing two husbands etc.

3) I disagree that ignorance is a virtue, and that accepting ideas by faith is a goal. I disagree to the point that I believe this teaching is an insidious method of control the church is using to keep her constituents from exploring reality.

I remember a church member begging me to not get divorced, as it was a sin to get divorced for any reason other than adultery. She encouraged me to file for a legal separation. As if I would get brownie points in heaven for letting Howard trash my credit. I saw no merit in staying legally connected to a dangerous drug addict, UNLESS I actually believed my eternal salvation were at stake. I no longer believe an intelligent God act so stupidly. And yet people have suffered far worse than me in communist countries for having a belief in God. And other the centuries people have fought and killed each other over a belief in God. I have even heard that's how God weeds out who is for real and who is a poser. What you are willing to do for God. Such people don't ask what God would do for them. They just seem grateful to be included on the team.

My drug addict ex-husband is still a Christian. He is still using as well.