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You’re Right. I Didn’t Love Jesus Enough.

Dear Christians who like to tell atheists-who-used-to-be-Christains that we just didn’t love Jesus enough;

You may be on to something in my case.

I was a Christian for only a few years, and a super-duper Bible-believing church-going God-is-an-awesome-God-and-Jesus-is-Awesome (yeah, they were heavy on the awesomes) Christian for only a few intense months. I loved Jesus a lot. Hoo boy, did I! I went around clutching my Bible like a promise ring, and I couldn’t think of anything else but him. I’d get all giddy whenever he was mentioned, and I’d get all mushy-gushy when I ran across others who loved him, too. I babbled about him to everyone. I went everywhere with him, and loved our super-special times together in church, where everybody seemed to love him just as much as I did. We were going steady. I thought he was The One. I wanted to spend my whole life with him.

But you know what? You’re right. I didn’t love him enough. I realize that now.

  • I didn’t love him enough to shut down my critical thinking when it came to him.
  • I didn’t love him enough to follow blindly, all the while pretending my eyes were open.
  • I didn’t love him enough to overlook his glaring personality flaws.
  • I didn’t love him enough to make excuses for him.*
  • I didn’t love him enough to stay in an abusive relationship.**
  • I didn’t love him enough to believe he’s real despite increasing evidence to the contrary.
  • I didn’t love him enough to accept his constant silence.

Yes, obviously, I didn’t love Jesus enough. Bet that means I wasn’t ever a “true” Christain all those months and years too, eh? I’m okay with that. Really – I’m better off never having truly loved a sick fuck whose requirements for love are so pathological. I mean, seriously. He used to come across as a severely bipolar cult leader, and it bothered me, but I loved him anyway because I knew from experience with my mother that a person’s not unlovable because of their disease. But then I started researching forensic psychology and recognized all the sociopathic, serial killer, abusive spouse, and dangerous stalker tendencies in God/Jesus. Holy shit. Yeah, if you want to love that, it’s your business, but I’d prefer healthier relationships with less fucked up imaginary friends. Also, I’ve already got one psychopath in my life.

My homicidal felid, preparing to attack.

My homicidal felid, preparing to attack. Her love is contingent upon receiving the appropriate demonstrations of adoration, worship, and sacrifice. You can do everything exactly right, yet she will still visit wrath upon you without warning. The difference between her and God is that she cuddles on cold nights, purrs, and undeniably exists.

One unbalanced entity who demands my unconditional servitude and visits arbitrary destruction upon me without warning is quite enough. Also, mine is cuter, and less non-existent. I’m sorry, but there’s no way I can love that God of yours anymore. It’s kind of comforting to be told I never really did. So, thanks!

But you may want to think twice before questioning the love of those who poured their whole hearts into Jesus, and did it far longer than I did, before painfully extracting themselves from the relationship. They might become very upset with you – and rightfully so. Also, they may have a dangerous suggestion for you:

Why don’t you, dear Christian, for once in your life, question your own goddamn intellectual conscience instead of other people’s commitments to Jesus.

But you’d never do that if you love Jesus enough, because that might lead you to a place where, to those still trapped deep in the abusive relationship, it would look like you never actually loved him at all. Amirite?

 

* Theodicy pretty much got me in the end: I never have found anything that squares an omniscient, omnipotent, omnibenevolent god with the horrors of this world. Apologetics ring hollow to me, and I can’t engage in liberal Christian handwaving that poofs all the bad bits of the Bible away. (Also, other religions had cooler gods. But I apparently didn’t love them enough, either.)

** I realized that if God/Jesus was directing the course of my life, he’s responsible for the bad just as much as the good – and what’s with this love-me-or-suffer-eternal-torment schtick? The more I looked at it, the more it looked suspiciously like the kind of relationship professionals advise you to get the hell out of. If I wouldn’t accept this treatment from a human, I sure as shit wasn’t going to take it from a god.

Comments

  1. Rodney Nelson says

    Theodicy pretty much got me in the end: I never have found anything that squares an omniscient, omnipotent, omnibenevolent god with the horrors of this world.

    The question of evil is the basis for the Biblical Book of Job. Note: Job is considered fiction by almost all Biblical scholars.

    Job is described as a “righteous man” and examples of his righteousness are given. One day Satan goes to God and makes a bet with God that if Job is screwed over well enough, then Job will curse God. God accepts the bet. He kills off Job’s children and servants by collapsing Job’s house on everyone, then has all of Job’s livestock rustled. Finally Job is stricken with painful boils all over his body. To make a long story short, Job accepts his fate and so God wins the bet.

    At one point in the book, Job and God have a discussion. Job essentially asks “If God is a loving God, why is there evil in the world?” He gets the following answer: “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand….” (Job 38:4 NIV) and continuing in like fashion for the rest of the chapter. In other words, Job asks one of the most important questions in theology and God blows him off with a long winded sneer.

    There’s another point about Job. To test Job, God kills innocent people whose sole role in the story is to die. God supposedly “loves” everyone but has no compunctions from killing those he loves to set up a bet. Sounds like an abusive husband to me.

  2. rq says

    It’s the constant silence that got to me. Once I really understood that everything – and I mean everything – was up to me and how I – and only I – decided I was going to deal with things, everything else just… poof.
    I like this post.

  3. says

    My religion went “poof” the instant I realized that people I knew, liked, and admired were doing their best to help others, without any belief in a god. Maybe I didn’t love Jesus “enough”. But neither did other people, and they were doing just fine.

    Besides, surely a god who can invent toxoplasmosis to make us love our feline psychopath overlords could have invented a parasite to make us love our invisible divine psychopath overlord as well.

  4. says

    Indeed. Enjoyed every word of this one Dana, thanks. Being a recovering cathoholic myself right there in fabulous Corvallis with the blue shirts and the salt and pepper cords only hastened my break with Sky Daddy and The Baby Jeebus. A few decades later I became acquainted with the work of a guy by the name of Carl Sagan. Now I know what the word awesome really means.

    Cheers,
    Matt

  5. Stevarious, Public Health Problem says

    omniscient, omnipotent, omnibenevolent

    Pick two.

    I’ll take omnipotent and omnibenevolent. At least, that’s how his followers treat him. Why would you need to pray to a being that already knows what you are going to say? More importantly, if you already knew how the entirety of history was going to proceed from beginning to end, why would you take requests? No, they clearly believe in a being that can do pretty much anything, and really wants to help, but is kind of clueless as to how to proceed.

    The bible, of course, describes a being that’s none of these things. Frequently he doesn’t know things. Frequently he tries to do things and fails. Frequently he lashes out in childish nastiness, causing needless harm for the sake of mollifying his own hurt feelings.

  6. ImRike says

    Now that you made me think about it, I don’t remember ever feeling anything like love for Jesus. Though I was raised catholic, the bible was for me just like one more of the fairy tale books I had. I also don’t remember ever being told that I had to love Jesus, all we had to do was believe in him, and that was difficult enough!

  7. EllenBeth Wachs says

    Hell, I didn’t love Jesus at all. Didn’t believe in him for a second. Was raised a Jew and turned away from that at 12 after the big party.

    • says

      Like EllenBeth I was raised a Jew. Then, at 15, I ended up in a close personal relationship with Jesus. Like Dana it was theodicy (mediated in my case by neuroscience) that ended the relationship. I don’t need a demented psychopathic control freak god to run my life.