Monday, May 19, 2008

How I Was Most Hurt By Organized Religion

Greek God ZeusImage by Bling$Bling via FlickrJim Palmer asked six very interesting questions his blog and said to choose one to answer for a conference he's attending. The questions are:

  1. I left organized church because…
  2. Is following Christ the same as being a “Christian”?
  3. For me, religious detox has involved…
  4. The main way I feel judged by or don’t feel like I fit with most “Christians” is…
  5. What’s most important to me now about my relationship with God is…
  6. How was I most hurt or wounded through my involvement with organized religion?

I thought these were great questions.  I chose number six to answer for Jim.  Here are my thoughts on it. I tried to limit myself to three paragraphs and no more than five minutes. These are my unedited thoughts.
I was raised Pentecostal.  I was taught that God was a great big man up in the sky who loved me.  But, he was very much like my father. His love was conditional. When I did the right things he was proud of me.  But, when I did the wrong things, he was there to punish me.  And, BTW, the best I could ever do was as "filthy rags".  So, he was never really proud of me.

I was taught that this God who loved me demanded perfection and nothing short of perfection could please him.  Since I could not be perfect, he would accept Jesus' perfection in my place.  Since I deserved to be killed and then eternally tortured, he'd take Jesus in my place for that, too.  He could only bear to look upon me if he saw me wrapped up in Jesus' bloody body.  I get the image of a wolf literally wrapped in a sheep's carcass when I think of those days. 

Serving this type of perfectionist and schizophrenic God made me fearful, demanding and judgmental myself.  I knew that even my love for him was a sham because how can you love a monster who creates a helpless, sinful creature then tortures it for being exactly what he created it to be?  How can you love in "free will" someone who says "Love me or I'll send you to hell for eternity."  How others around me could love this god made me feel inferior and evil.  I knew that even though I had done the right things, said the prayer, gotten baptized, even spoke in tongues that I hadn't really appeased him because I could never truly love him, only fear him.

That is how I was most hurt by organized religion.  Organized religion presented me with the picture of a schizophrenic, perfectionist, masochistic God and demanded that I love an unlovable tyrant.

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