My brother once told me that “he has no problem with Christianity, it’s Christians he cannot stand.” I don’t know if he coined or copied the line, but I could relate to the sentiment. Frankly, I tend to agree. Many Christians suffer from the same “we are right everybody else is wrong” arrogance normally attributed to Islamic extremists. I used to attend church on a regular basis until I became disgusted with the self-serving interpretations of scripture. Well, I am not the only one. One of my oldest friends, who shall remain nameless, is very active in his church. Here is a letter he wrote in reply to a paper he received from another member of his church. I do not have the paper he replied to, but the gist is easily grasped by the reply.
I read and reread the paper that you had given me last week, the one that you had gotten from Pr. Kampke. As interesting as it was to read, and that I agree with it entirely, it just further underscores to me how evil and distorted Christianity has been. And I also lump Judaism and Islam in together in the same boat. I don’t have any interest in impugning God nor any reason to. It’s just that it I have become aware that people often times use tradition and cultural mores rather than what the Bible says to control and domineer one another. That article apparently has been around for over 30 years and I can imagine that it has been read by many that would consider it blasphemous. A statement in it that rang true with me is that people would rather retain and return to a faith that is steeped in hypocrisy than extract some measure of truth. I was born in 1960 and have recollections that flicker back to about 1962. I remember being very afraid of my father, then God after that. Growing up with my odd sexual identity as I entered puberty just about sent me over the edge with fear for most of my youth. I could never figure out why I could never quite measure up to my father, or what was wrong with me and we are constantly told that we will never measure up in Gods eyes. A fundamental truth that I have known is that knowledge is power, and people become drunk with what they perceive as knowledge and power. And what a great sense of power to have is power over salvation, which preachers and folks with enough knowledge to be dangerous seem to possess. Catholic priests molesting young boys, and then telling us that when we commit the mortal sin of homosexuality we’re certainly going to go to hell. Men having sexual dominion over women,(The potential stoning of that woman in Iran, and the instruction in Deuteronomy for rapists to marry their victims) and other men and folks in general more worried about what others are doing behind closed doors rather than minding their own business.
Before the reformation, the Catholics actual had something somewhat right. That the Bible in commoners hands was inherently dangerous. Boy is that ever true. Yet Catholic clergy paid little to what was actually said in the Bible, and they had an absolute monopoly on controlling people’s lives and that was absolute arrogant power. But it’s true. So many read the Bible and get it horribly wrong. Maybe that’s why lately I have a deep wrenching fear about going anywhere near one anymore. From my limited studies, what I get out of the Bible is: Love God, and Love Jesus. Love your neighbor, and live for something above and greater than yourself. Love your father and call your mother on Mother’s Day (Obey your parents).
Don’t betray God and don’t betray others. Don’t steal, murder, or bear false witness. And obey the 10 commandments. Beyond that, the legal twisting and turning of the Bible to suit ones own need to control one another is sickening. Even Luther was guilty of that, what with his anger and frustration with Judaism and Islam. (“The Jews and Their Lies” and his negative tone toward “The Turk”.)
[Name Deleted], don’t get me wrong, I’m not renouncing God. It’s just that he is hearing some loud and pointed questions from me now. And as much as I choke when I call myself a Christian, I find that from a cultural standpoint I cannot get away from it. Culturally I’m Christian, unfortunately. I’m not going to stop coming to church, but I think I’ll stay away from Bible studies for the time being. I want to have a simple faith, a faith that is all-encompassing and not above others. I want to be respectful of other faiths and traditions and not try to cram my own tradition down other people’s throats. People say that Christ is the only way to Heaven. Well screw that!! As if getting to heaven is the only reason for living. And what about giving equal value to Judaism or Islam or other faiths and traditions, and them giving equal value to us and others. I’m not sure why I’m here, but I have a life to live and getting through this life is what I’m concerned about now. And hopefully I can remember to do the right thing by others, and hopefully our great creator will consider that in the end. But we have to do whats right for rights sake and not out of fear of God. I’m tired of living in fear. But doing the right thing with God and for God and others I believe is the best attitude.
I’m not sure where all of this is leading me. It’s just that recent events have me extremely unsettled and frankly disgusted. And I’m starting to wonder: Am I really all that bad?
No, you are not.
Not a rant, just something to think about.