I first heard this quote a couple of weeks ago while watching Lord Save Us From Your Followers. It was attributed to St. Augustine. When I first heard it, it really set me back. I had to rewind the movie and watch that part again. The words whore, mother and church in the same sentence are shocking. It's been on of those quotes that keeps coming back to my mind time and time again. I only wish I had thought to say it first because it sums up my complicated relationship with the church from the time I was about five years old right up until today.
I would not be the person I am today without the church. That is something that will never change. In a sense, the church has given birth to me. I often hear atheists claim that morality is possible without religion and I suppose it is. But, whether I stick with the church (or Christianity) or not, I cannot deny or ever change the tremendous impact all of the Sunday school lessons, sermons, Bible reading, etc. have had on forming who I am. I was taught morality in the church. I was taught generosity in the church. I was taught compassion in the church. I was taught that each person is an image of G-d and therefore has inherent infinite worth. A couple of days ago a friend asked me who had more impact on my life, Jesus or Buddha. The answer is Jesus, by a mile. Jesus has been embedded into my psyche from the time I could understand language. Without the church we wouldn't have the Bible. The church has preserved the teachings of Jesus through the centuries. Without the church I would have never heard the name of Jesus. So, yeah, the church is my mother.
But, the church has been a whore, both to the world-with its oppression of women, condoning slavery and racism, inquisitions, homophobia, witch hunts covering up pedophilia., etc. The church has also distorted the "good news" and used it to psychologically torment little boys and girls like me. The church turned the God of unconditional and unlimited love into a schizophrenic bloodthirsty tyrant . The god I was taught about wantedto eternally torment for being just what He made me to be . But, at the same time He sent His Son to be tormented in my stead. The church taught me eternal security in my salvation, unless I backslid, in which case, I was never "saved" in the first place. The only time I would know I was eternally secure was when I passed from this life to eternity. The church told me that works could never save me. But, unless I led a good enough life to be evidence that I had truly had been saved, my faith alone was not enough. Because of the church, I have had a morbid obsession with death. From as early as I can remember, life wasn't about living for today. This life was only worth anything if you did what it took to get to heaven. This was a throw-away, a dress rehearsal at best. It was in church that my panic attacks started decades ago and it's in church where they persist to this day.
I hate church and I love church all at the same time.