If I had $1 for every Christian who, since I left the church, has said to me some version of, “You were hurt by people because you were following traditions/ false doctrines/ human error.. I know better because I know the REAL Jesus…” I’d be Joel Osteen.
This morning on Twitter I was in a thread where someone continued (still is as I write this, I believe) to argue that the problem IS a people problem. Churches are made of people, yada yada. It was all in response to someone who thought #EmptyThePews shouldn’t be so hard on churches ya know.. maybe change it to #FindOtherPews.
First off, yes there are healthy Christian churches where people are happy. And more power to them! Whatever floats your boat – I wouldn’t dare try to take someone off a path they’re happy with. (If only that respect were reciprocated!)
But one thing most of those non-toxic churches with happy people have in common is that they don’t take the bible literally. Because if you do take it as inerrant and word-for-word literal, I’m sorry but it’s toxic as fuck.
Jesus: The Ultimate Abusive Spouse
Let’s be real here: the core foundation of Christianity is abusive.
The defining idea is that we are born bad. We are fundamentally flawed. We’re NOT GOOD ENOUGH. And the deity that created us loves us so much that he created this horrible place of eternal torment. A literal lake of fire in which we will burn forever and ever and ever and ever unless we do exactly what he says. Unless we love him just right.
“Why do you make me punish you like this?” he asks as he tosses us into the flames. “You know I love you, baby. Why didn’t you just do what I asked? Then I wouldn’t have to do this.”
I mean, Christians are supposed to be the “bride of Christ,” right? This is a textbook abusive spouse.
For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.
If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? — Hebrews 12:6-7, KJV
That’s ok, dude. I’ll skip that kind of “love.”
That’s Not The Only Problem
Of course, we’re all familiar with the “slaves obey your masters,” “wives obey your husbands,” and “don’t even think about being gay,” parts of the bible. Not to mention all the murder, mayhem and genocide that takes place on old Jehovah’s orders in the Old Testament. There’s been plenty written about that.
But the other major fundamental issue with Christianity, no matter how literally you take it, how liberal or conservative your church is, how “loving” you consider god to be is this:
You, as a human being, have no inherent worth of your own.
Humans have value “because they’re created in god’s image.” “Because Jesus died for us.” We are weak, he is strong – it’s in our lullabies. We are “nothing” without him.
As a Christian, you’re taught not to take credit for your own accomplishments – they’re “blessings.” Any inherent talent you have is a “gift.”
The entire paradigm is one of weakness, worthlessness and dependency. ONLY if you have the right relationship with Jesus can HE give you worth, meaning, purpose.
Again, rather like the abusive spouse who wants you totally dependent so they are in control.
Well, fuck that.
No Outside Validation Needed
I have worth and value because I am a human being. I’ve worked damn hard for my accomplishments. I deserve respect. My authority over my own body and life is not granted by some outside force, and neither is my happiness or fulfillment with my life.
I bear ultimate responsibility for it all. It’s called Sovereignty, and I’ve fought hard to claim it since leaving the toxicity of Christianity.
See? It was never a “people problem” at all.