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Perhaps Because It’s Horrific Bullshit?

All right, I’m appalled. I had a friend whose gradual slide deeper and deeper into Christian faith (Baptist, I believe) meant we gradually drifted apart. We’re still Facebook friends, and occasionally I see his updates. He’s got two young beautiful children – and is doing his best to raise them in the faith.

I don’t think he realizes how horrific that is, even though he just linked to an article explaining why.

The author dismisses the heroic Bible stories taught in Sunday School. All those messages of loyalty and goodness, he sez, are just awful. Total lies! Jesus is only a postscript! Of course it’s causing kids to leave the faith! Because what they need to hear, apparently, what’ll keep their butts glued to the pews, is this:

The message of the gospel—the entire storyline of scripture—is God’s loving pursuit of people who run from him as fast as they can and who live lives unworthy of his love.

Wow. Okay. Instead of teaching kids to strive to be the best they can be, teach them they’re worthless. Fantastic. You know what, I can’t even link to the number of people bullshit like this has damaged – they’re all over the place, people who spend their lives believing they’re disgusting sinners who deserve to be destroyed by God, who loves them anyway – even while hurling hurricanes and earthquakes and floods and fires at them for pissing Him off. Oh, and he’s a stalker.

I can tell you the story of my very conservative Christian best friend, who grew up destroyed. It took falling in with a bunch of atheists and pagans and agnostics and occultists before he finally discovered his own worth. Before that, he wallowed in self-recrimination. His church had taught him he’s fundamentally awful. One tiny fuck-up would leave him devastated, convinced no one could love someone as worthless as him. He never could admit he was actually a fun and funny and smart and all-around good sort while he was fully Christian. Took us over a decade to undo that damage, and then after a few years of near-freedom, he slipped back into the church, never having quite achieved escape velocity. I’m sure his mother counts it a victory. Better to have a son that’s saved than a son who has enough confidence in his potential that he can live up to it, eh?

My Baptist friend, is this was you want your beautiful babies to become? Cringing, terrified, damaged people who say they know Jesus died for their sins, but flay themselves alive with every tiny slip, and who secretly believe they’re condemned to Hell?

Let’s teach the wonder of the gospel. Let’s show our kids that God loves us … simply because he loves us. In our beastliness. That he loves us before we are good.

Yup. Let’s teach precious young children that they are beastly, horrible people, just like the Beast in Beauty and the Beast (seriously, that’s the analogy author Sam uses). You know what the kids know? That the townspeople wanted the Beast dead. That he was horrid and mean and kept a young girl prisoner until she gave in. Sam wants kids to model their relationship with the Divine on abuse. Yep. Wonderful. As in, I’m full of wonder that anyone can be so twisted as to consider this a better thing to teach the kiddies.

My dear Baptist friend: do you really want to batter this message into your childrens’ skulls? Do you want them to grow up believing they’re beastly and horrible? So much so that they caused a god to die?

That [God’s] love isn’t vague sentimentality, but it cost him his most precious treasure to turn us into his prized possession; that the storyline of the Bible is God’s Search and Rescue mission to find the dying Beast and kiss him into joyous life.

That’s disgusting. You can’t see it with your faith spectacles on, but this is utterly horrid. People are so evil that God had to kill his innocent son to save us. And you shame Aztecs over human sacrifice? Hypocritical much? And how do you think kids feel about that? Kids who are a little more literal-minded than adults, and probably feel pretty awful that they’re such horrible people that Jesus had to get tortured to death because of them. Jesus died, and it’s all their fault.

Also, they’re mere objects. Things to be owned. God and Satan, tallying up the souls like people comparing their baseball card collections, and all your kids can do is hope they get bought by the right master. Hoping for the love of a capricious tyrant, all the while believing that they don’t deserve that love, since Jesus had to die for their sins.

That’s if your kids believe this bullshit, and it’s terrible if they do. But your religious compatriots have been wringing their hands over the present crop of kids who’ve grown up and slammed the church doors behind them, never looking back. Why oh why have they been leaving? the faithful cry. And a lot of answers are shoved forward, like the fact that kids these days just aren’t as much in to the gay-bashing and misogyny and disregard for social justice and suchlike things as their parents were. But for all that, so few of you are willing to admit that the reason a lot of kids don’t accept your brainwashing – excuse me, Biblical teaching – is because they know it’s bullshit.

I mean, seriously. Look at that line again:

That [God’s] love isn’t vague sentimentality, but it cost him his most precious treasure to turn us into his prized possession; that the storyline of the Bible is God’s Search and Rescue mission to find the dying Beast and kiss him into joyous life.

Cost him his most precious treasure, did it? You mean the Son who didn’t stay dead? The one who’s actually God hisownself? The one you say is ruling up in heaven and will return to Earth in glory? That “most precious treasure”?

God sacrificed himself to himself to save us from himself. Totally believable.

Those of us who escaped Christianity completely did it because we realized its inherent absurdity.

christianitymakessense

(If anyone knows who first came up with either of those descriptions, let me know so I can give them my sincerest thanks.)

I’m told by religious folk that God wants a personal relationship with me, and wants me to adore his son (who is really himself). In the next breath, I’m told we’re born sinners who deserve hellfire and damnation, and that if I do not fall down and worship this sick, twisted fuck, he’s going to burn me forever and ever and ever. Oh, and he loves me. Lots.

You ask why people are leaving Christianity, as if you can come up with the perfect formula to make them stay. You’re searching for the perfect ways to brainwash your kids. Aside from the fact that’s utterly wrong and something you shouldn’t do, you’re sunk. There’s too much information freely available. Too many contradictions between what reality is and what Christianity claims it is. Too many things wrong with the Bible, and too many people ready to point that out. You can try to shelter your kids. You may even manage to convince them to disregard every bit of outside information they stumble across. But chances are, they’re going to encounter the world, and come to their own conclusions.

Let them do it.

Let them make up their own minds. Let them learn and explore and think. Let them be who they’ll be. It’s wrongheaded and dangerous to attempt to force them to fit your faith. Libby Anne has it right: Your Children Are Not Programmable Robots.

Do you love your kids? Will you stop loving them if they stop loving your God? If the answer to both questions is yes, you’ve got some soul-searching to do, my friend. And if you’d cut your kids off or guilt-trip them or threaten them with hellfire and damnation for straying from the path you’ve made for them, if you think your god will torture and burn them for eternity for following their conscience, then it’s time for you to re-examine that god, and decide if it’s worthy of your worship.

And if you’re terrified your children will be condemned to hell if you don’t frog-march them down the straight and narrow, consider this (since you haven’t come to the realization you’re terrified of a myth): would a heavenly Father that truly loves his children really torture them forever for following their own conscience? Could infinite love be such infinite hate? Would you order someone to strip off your children’s skin, burn them, beat them, subject them to unimaginable pain, and do this for eternity, for not loving you enough?

I may be an atheist, but I can assure you of two things: if incontrovertible evidence were presented tomorrow that proved the existence of the god of the Bible, I’d no longer be an atheist, and I sure as shit wouldn’t be worshiping that monstrosity. It doesn’t deserve love and admiration. Any being that sadistic deserves condemnation. That sick, twisted “love” is no love at all.

Is that really the love you want to teach your kids?

Comments

  1. rq says

    Do you love your kids? Will you stop loving them if they stop loving your God?

    I’ve been avoiding all religious discussion with my dad (esp. regarding the christian upbringing of my kids) because I’m afraid of his answers to these two questions. Also, the godly guilt-trips for not caring as much about their christian upbringing as he does or as I should.

  2. says

    If there is anything I’ve learned from my own searching and arrival to atheism, it’s that I AM GOOD ENOUGH. That’s something I struggled with as a Christian. With all that was happening in my life, I believed I deserved it because I didn’t pray hard enough, didn’t read my Bible enough, didn’t go to confession…. what kind of a being claims unconditional love, but then puts the condition of eternal punishment on the relationship if the love isn’t returned?

    And eternal damnation? Really? These people deserve unimaginable pain and suffering for the rest of time? Really?

  3. John Phillips, FCD says

    I may be an atheist, but I can assure you of two things: if incontrovertible evidence were presented tomorrow that proved the existence of the god of the Bible, I’d no longer be an atheist, and I sure as shit wouldn’t be worshiping that monstrosity. It doesn’t deserve love and admiration. Any being that sadistic deserves condemnation. That sick, twisted “love” is no love at all.

    Not only would I not worship it, but I would be compelled to find a way to fight it. As, in my opinion, would anyone who valued justice, freedom and human rights.

  4. grumpyoldfart says

    My Baptist friend, is this was you want your beautiful babies to become?

    Your Baptist friend is probably not interested in anyone or anything but himself. Back when he was a believer he never had to take responsibility for his actions. Whenever he made a mistake he could immediately say, “It wasn’t my fault, god has other plans for me.” Even better, his peers would accept that excuse (because they intended to use it themselves one day).

    Then he left the church and things went OK until he started making mistakes and there was no god to take the blame. He had to admit to himself that he had made a bad decision (or whatever) and that, really, he was a bit of a dickhead.

    So now he’s back in church and he never has to admit to any failings. No matter what he does, no matter how silly it appears, the decision is out of his hands. He is being led by god and everything will turn out for the best.

    Your Baptist friend probably doesn’t believe any of the bible stories, but he will never let go of god because he needs god to absolve him of responsibility for his actions. And if the kids turn out to be ratbag fundamentalists he can tell himself: “It doesn’t matter. It’s about me, not about them. And it’s all going to turn out for the best anyway.”

  5. skemono says

    I remember a Christian friend of mine saying something like “God is the source of all goodness in the universe. All goodness is due to God and not people.”

    And I just thought that is the most horrible thing I have ever heard someone say about humans. They cannot do good on their own–the only thing they can bring to the table is evil. If they do good? That was really God, not them! If they do evil? That’s all on them, not God!

  6. moarscienceplz says

    Somebody plz invent a time machine so’s I can print this out and send it back 40 years to my father!

  7. Acolyte of Sagan says

    God’s loving pursuit of people who run from him as fast as they can and who live lives unworthy of his love.

    God sure sounds like an attention-seeking, over-needy child to me. “Play with MEMEMEME! Love MEMEMEME!”

    • Acolyte of Sagan says

      Nearly missed the bit about Him keeping us as slaves possessions

      That [God’s] love isn’t vague sentimentality, but it cost him his most precious treasure to turn us into his prized possession;

  8. markr1957 says

    The biggest lie of all was how he sacrificed (his son) himself to himself (as sky daddy) for our sins – he got better a couple of days later, so at most he had a very bad weekend for our sins.

  9. cubist says

    If I believed that (a) god actually existed, and (b) the Bible’s portrayal of god is accurate, I would dedicate my life to figuring out how to kill the son of a bitch and make sure he stays dead. Yeah, yeah, “omnipotent”. But careful study of Scripture reveals a few hints that maybe, just maybe, god’s “potence” isn’t quite as “omni” as god’s fan club wants everybody to think it is. Two words: Iron chariots. And let’s not forget that one wrestling match where a mortal human was beating god until the SOB cheated (Gen 32:24)…

  10. Dave, ex-Kwisatz Haderach says

    Having hauled myself out of the torturous mire of a fundamentalist baptist upbringing, I’m giving this post a hearty R’amen! I used to think guilt and self-loathing was the way everyone was supposed to feel about themselves. Yeah, it cost me a lot, my family mostly won’t speak to me, but the joy and freedom of just being able to love me for who I am is easily worth it.

    And its killing me to be forced to watch silently from a distance as my brother repeats the same cycle of abuse with his children.

    As an aside, grumpyoldfart, you don’t get to decide what Dana’s friend is thinking. Sure there are cynical religious people who use their god as a shield against responsibility, but nothing in the post says this friend is one of those. Unless you’ve lived it, its hard to imagine the mindset that not only are you responsible for your own failings, you are incapable of doing anything remotely good, you are damned to hellfire for the crime of being born and credit for anything good goes directly to god instead of you. Try lying awake at night wracked with guilt and terrified of a hell you’re convinced is real, its not fun. It took years after I left the church to finally rid myself of the last shreds of that fear, and I can easily understand why some people can’t pull themselves free.