In spite of the title of this post, I want to assure you that I have no problem with anyone having a different personal faith than myself or disagreeing with anything I have to say on any subject. I think having a personal belief system is a good thing for people, as long as it is not used to oppress people or is used as an excuse to act like a shit-bag. In fact, at one point in my life I had such strong convictions when it came to my own faith that I spent four years of my life training to become a Pastor so that I could lead a new generation in to the open arms of God.
Primarily I am going to focus on the Christian experience, as that is what I am familiar with, and once again, this is not a personal attack on religion, rather it is anecdotal evidence of what happens when the Church in North America fucks up.
When I joined the Church (also known as giving my heart to Jesus), I was in a bad way. I was fresh off of becoming a convicted criminal, was severely depressed, addicted to hallucinogens and was in condition to be a functioning human being, so when someone asked me if I knew where I was going to wind up when I died I answered, “Anywhere but here would work for me.”
The guy I was talking to was a local youth pastor that had seen me over the years transform from the A-student to the train wreck and he wanted to help me, so he started inviting me out to Church events. I am pretty sure that I said yes to his invites because I was desperate for someone to give a shit about me for the first time in a long time and it felt good to believe that someone would actually take time out of their day to worry about me.
One night they had a special guest speaker whose story reflected mine in what seemed like some incredibly eery ways (I was much older when I realized that dysfunctional people have similar stories more often than not), and when he asked if anyone was sick of the life they were leading, I was the first person to raise my hand. He talked to me about what it meant to give my life over to Jesus, how He would heal me, forgive me and allow me to live a life reborn from the past pain. It sounded amazing, and I wanted to leave all my hurt behind so badly, I accepted his offer and repeated the Salvation prayer.
I will always be grateful for that moment, because as much as I have rejected plenty of the churches doctrines, if it were not for those people taking care of me early on, I probably would have wound up dead by twenty-three. Over the years I worked hard to clean my life up and live the good Christian lifestyle, which was really good for me and taught me a lot about self-discipline and accountability to myself and to others, but beneath the outward facing Christian was the cynical person that was taught to question everything and not take the world at face value. I went to a Bible College to study, and it was in that environment that I began to get a better sense of who I was and what had led me to where I was. The fear of rejection is what had pushed me in to the Church to begin with, the same fear that had driven me to drugs, alcohol and crime. The difference this time is that the people I was worried about leaving me if I did not follow their lead were not expecting me to act like a thug.
In my mind’s eye I had this image of what my peers were like when I was not around and in spite of how stupid it sounds, I would envision them sitting in prayer circles and having deep theological discussions in quiet tones. It was based on zero evidence from my interactions with them, but I felt like I had to live up to their standards otherwise they would notice that i was a fraud and would expel me from another family.
The moment I realized that all my preconceived notions concerning these people was wrong happened one night when I was hanging out with a girl I had grown quite enamored with (and had a sneaking suspicion that she was God’s choice for my future wife). We had gone for a late night walk around the campus and were relating stories about ourselves to each other. At this point I had kept pretty quiet about my past as I did not want to scare off this cute girl, but I was falling hard for her and figured it would be okay to open up, so I told her pretty much everything. After I had finished my story, we sat in silence for a couple of minutes, her looking contemplative and me looking like a person trying not to panic, knowing I had screwed everything up. Just as I thought I was going to lose my mind over the silence, she broke it with a, “sooooo….” followed by her hand grabbing my penis through my jeans. Apparently she had an incredibly weak spot for bad boys and although she wanted to maintain her virginity, she loved doing “butt stuff.” It is kind of funny how random anal sex with a girl you were convincing yourself was your future wife can change your whole perspective on the people around you. No longer was I surrounded by saints that i did not feel I could live up to, instead I was surrounded by a bunch of fuck-ups like me who were all trying to find a level of acceptance amongst each other. My teachers were no longer teaching life altering lessons about a God who loved unconditionally, instead they seemed like stories about an abusive boyfriend (“I’m sorry I hit you baby. You know I love you. It’s just when you disobey me I get so angry and can’t control myself. Baby, I promise to never try to kill you with a flood ever again. See, I got you a rainbow. You love rainbows. now you know I will always love you.”)
I was still not ready to break ties with a community that had brought me in out of my bullshit, but my desire to actually do anything to forward the church agenda was greatly diminished. I could still see how religion can be beneficial, but the more I saw how the church approached the rest of the world, I became more and more disillusioned by the whole mess. By the time I graduated Bible College I had pretty much decided that I was not going to Pastor which seems like a waste of four years, but the life lessons I learned while in school were invaluable and was part of how I came to be who I am now.
In the spirit of how I have managed to form this blog so far I give to you, my gentle and sweet readers, another list explaining why I have abandoned Christianity. Because, fuck it, why not?
1. The Church is notorious for being ass backwards on many social issues.
How often can a group of people be so wrong, so often and still be treated as a legitimate voice in modern society? I am specifically speaking about the churches stance on homosexual marriage, which is basically to yell “it’s Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve,” at the top of their lungs while claiming that God loves everyone as long as you do not want to bang a person of the same gender. Though, to expand the horizons of the churches utter contempt of logic one should examine how the church has handled feminist rights, environmental issues, the poor and segregation. They do not exactly have a strong track record when it comes to doing the right thing.
2. The Church is full of frauds and charlatans.
As per usual, I am painting with a broad brush here as I know some fantastic people who are not indicative of what I am about to say.
One of the largest ministries on a world-wide scale is called Hillsong and it is based out of Australia. It is a powerhouse ministry that sells millions of live performance CD’s every year, they run television programming, make millions off of teaching materials and sell their public speaking services for large chunks of cash. This is not in and of itself a bad thing, but they are supposed to be a non-profit charity organization, yet the heads of their ministry are filthy fucking rich off of the backs of their followers. They use state of the art facilities to produce popular music projects and television shows, yet they have the gall to ask people to donate to them on top of what they make from their various endeavors.
I have sat through more than one service where the speaker spent the entire time talking about sacrificing one’s wants and desires for the benefit of the gospel and ask for a special offering for their ministry only to see them drive away in a car that is worth more than everything I own.
The church has become a money-making conglomerate that preaches sacrifice while living as large as humanly possible. I have no problem with Capitalism in action, but when you are lying to the people who have given you their trust just so you can squeeze a little extra out of them, then you should kindly go fuck yourself.
3. The message of the Gospel is kind of fucked up.
Here is a quick theology lesson for you: God created the world, man fucked up, man gets punished (repeat until the Romans show up). God gives man a second chance and sacrifices himself as a human-God hybrid, but if you do not follow God-man, then you are royally fucked when God-man comes back to smite the shit out of bitches.
When you read the Bible you are supposed to be gleaning from it a tale of God’s everlasting love and patience for his creation, unfortunately, that is not really how it reads. God is kind of an asshole that seems to hang back and wait for an opportunity to fuck up someones day, and He absolutely enjoys it. he commands his armies to commit genocide on a regular basis because he does not like the gods that other people worship. When Jesus shows up at the scene He takes the fairly simple ten commandments and makes them almost impossible to live by, for example at one point he tells a bunch of people who even think about a girl with lust in their hearts is the exact same as boning her, which is insane and kind of ignores some fairly deep-rooted base urges. Then, in order to pay for the crimes of humanity, Jesus kills himself (he was God, he had the power to not die, so he essentially committed suicide) and comes back from the dead to send his disciples out in to the world to spread his message, which they do. Horribly. There is so much in-fighting amongst the early church that they have to set up special councils to deal with all of the bullshit that is going on all over the place. Then the book ends with all of the good people ascending in to new bodies to live on the new earth while the rest of humanity burns in a lake of fire. I think there might be a battle between the good and bad people somewhere in the middle of that, but I was not exactly a great Eschatology student.
Needless to say, God comes off as kind of a churlish dick.
Well, I probably just pissed off a lot of people.