Wednesday, 27 May 2015

The Christian message

When I was growing up, I believed there was a god, so did everyone around me. I was probably over 10 before I knew there were people who didn't think God was real.

Adam and Eve ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and that ruined everything for everyone, forever, apparently. Kind of sucks that God put the tree there knowing Adam and Eve would eat from it, therefore condemning all mankind. Why not just put the tree outside the Garden of Eden? 

Talk to an everyday Christian and I'm sure they'll tell you the Christian message is about love and helping people. They'll cite the charities set up and run by Christians, groups that go out and feed the homeless, Christian orphanages, Christian hospitals, and so on. 

They won't tell you that in many cases, before the homeless person can receive a meal, they have to listen to a sermon about how bad they are, and that they need Jesus to save them. They won't tell you that there are dozens of secular charities all over the world helping people too. People helping people is a human trait, not a Christian one. 

If the Christian message was *just* about help and love, even if it did come with a bit of 'y'all need Jesus' it would probably be an overall good thing.

Although individual Christians may differ, the Christian message is one of homophobia, sexism, fear, and shame. 

From a paper titled "Atheism, Secularity, and Well-Being: How the Findings of Social Science Counter Negative Stereotypes and Assumptions" By Phil Zuckerman 
Concerning the acceptance of homosexuality and support for gay rights, atheists and secular people again stand out (Linneman and Clendenen 2009; Hayes 1995b). When compared with the religious, non-religious people are far more accepting of homosexuality and supportive of gay rights and gay marriage (Sherkat et al. 2007; Burdette et al. 2005; Lewis 2003; Loftus 2001; Roof and McKinney 1987), and are far less likely to be homophobic or harbor negative attitudes towards homosexuals (Altemeyer 2009; Rowatt et al. 2006; Schulte and Battle 2004; Aubyn et al. 1999; VanderStoep and Green 1988; Kunkel and Temple 1992). According to a Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life Survey (2008), 60 percent of religiously unaffiliated Americans support gay marriage, compared to roughly 26 percent of Protestants and 42 percent of Catholics. According to Newport (2008), 76 percent of Americans who never or seldom attend church consider homosexuality morally acceptable, compared with 21 percent of weekly and 43 percent of monthly church attenders
In 2013 the Vatican ex-communicated Fr Greg Reynolds, an Australian priest who is supportive of marriage equality.1 

In 2012, before Australian Parliament voted on the subject, Christian church leaders (Anglican, Catholic, and Greek Orthodox) had messages against marriage equality read out to, or distributed to congregations, across Sydney.2

Passages from the bible such as Leviticus 18:22 and Leviticus 20:13 have anti-homosexual messages. The details above show that that message is getting through. 

It's significant to note that not only are the non-religious far less likely to be against marriage equality, but among the Christians, those who attend church less often, are also less likely to be against marriage equality. The Christian message *is* anti-gay. When you find a Christian who is not homophobic, it's despite what Christianity tells them, not because of it. 

The prime example, among many, of sexism is the bible is 1 Timothy 2 11:12
A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent.
Exodus 21:7 Leviticus 12 1:8 Leviticus 21:9 are three more of many examples. 

There is an interesting defence of 1 Timothy 2 11:12 (and God being against women in general) here by Lenny Esposito. Lenny concludes that God is not against women because...Men are entrusted with leading the church. Women are entrusted with bearing children and providing them with a Godly and secure home life so they may become Godly adults making an impact on our society.
I don't know about you, but to me, that sounds pretty sexist. 

There are plenty of Christians who aren't sexist. I would guess that every Christian I know personally isn't sexist (at least, not overtly). But they're not sexist despite what Christianity teaches them, not because of it. To this day there are no female priests in the Catholic church. 

I grew up terrified of hell. I was worried that anything I could do would send me there. I knew Jesus wanted to save me from hell, of course, but what if I didn't pray right? What if I did 10 things wrong but forgot one, so only asked for forgiveness for 9 of them? Would Jesus still save me from hell, even if I forgot to ask?

It didn't take another person to be around for the worry to be present either, because God was everywhere, he was always watching. Whatever I did, he was there. It felt like he was just waiting for me to slip up. I was all too familiar with him wiping out the planet because he regretted making humans in the first place. Why would I be spared if he regretted making me? 

Hell was the hardest thing for me to give up when I left religion. What a thing to do to a child? 

Christianity seems to survive on a culture of fear. Fear of hell. Fear of God. Combine this with the shame they force on you for being human, the idea that you *deserve* hell for being who you are, and the Christian message here is a terrifying one. One that tells people to hate themselves for being human.

The Christian message is centred on our flaws. On how being human means being sinful. That we need to beg for forgiveness for being born human, and that if we don't we're hell bound. Christianity tells us that homosexuality is wrong, that women just aren't as good as men. It's message is that we are slaves to God. We're here to please him, and we're meaningless without him. 

Maybe there is a bit of love and goodness in the Christian message, but from my experience, the balance definitely falls on the side of the awful. 


1 comment:

  1. I was, I think, more fortunate that you. I have never had any religious faith. My father was a churchgoer, but he left it to me as to whether I wished to join him. I attended Anglican schools for 10 years where church attendance was compulsory, but nothing was fired up in me. My education in the sciences confirmed to me that there was not a shred of evidence of the existence of any god.