One of the most liberating aspects of jettisoning Christianity was the realisation that nothing I did had cosmic significance. Nothing anybody does has cosmic significance. Yet to hear the cult’s leaders and spokesman talk, now as then, everything matters.
First and foremost, what you believe determines whether you lived forever in Heaven or not. Can you credit that: what you believe. So better get that doctrine sorted out! Right thought makes all the difference. You only have to read a few Christian blogs to realise how important this still is. Believe something only minimally unorthodox and your eternal life is in jeopardy. Not only that, but what you think in the privacy of your own head about issues like abortion, homosexuality, politics and society is subject to the Lord’s scrutiny. Better get it right – ‘Right’ being the operative term. It means recognising that Trump is God’s Chosen One because the Almighty is really only interested in the USA. He has much less time for other nations, except maybe Israel, so better get your thinking straight on that score, buddy.
God is, or so his self-appointed mouthpieces like to tell you, obsessively interested in how you, as an individual, spend your time, the language you used and whether you’re a faithful steward of the money he supplies (that’s the money you work hard for yourself). He lays it on your heart about how you should spend your time, the only valuable way being in the service of his Kingdom-that-never-comes. You’re made to feel that if your marriage isn’t close to perfection then you’re not really working at it (though god knows the biblical view of marriage is nothing like the one promoted by today’s Christian leaders). You’re made to feel you must share the gospel with everyone else you have relationships with: children, friends, colleagues, acquaintances, complete strangers. Don’t they too deserve to have a chance at eternal life? You don’t want them denied it because you failed to speak up, do you? Well, do you?
And then there’s the guilt when you can’t do all of this. You’re not sure you believe all the right stuff. You think you do but then you’re told about some point of doctrine you hadn’t considered and it is, apparently, really essential you do. So you consult the Holy Spirit who you think lives in your heart and you wonder why he hasn’t spoken up before now. Maybe you have liberal views about abortion. And really, you can’t find it in yourself to condemn all those ‘sodomites’ you’re told about; what difference does it make if you do or don’t? And your marriage is less then perfect. In fact, it’s a little bit messy, like human relationships tend to be, and sometimes you want just to relax, maybe laze a little bit. Not everything you do has to contribute to the Kingdom, after all.
But the guilt won’t let you. What kind of Christian are you, anyway? And as for witnessing at every opportunity, you wonder why you feel like a dog that’s compelled to pee at every lamp-post. Can’t friends just be friends? Can’t you just appreciate others for who they are, not as sinners who need saving? Apparently not.
What a wonderful release it is then, when you finally realise that none of this crap matters. Nothing you do, say or think makes the slightest bit of difference to whether you or others live forever (Spoiler: you won’t, they won’t.) How you act may help others feel a bit better about themselves or provide you with a sense of fulfilment but that’s the extent of it. Outside your immediate context, you’re insignificant, and there’s great significance to that. The pressure is off; God is not watching you to see whether you’re a good and faithful servant. Your time, money and thoughts are yours and yours alone. It’s entirely up to you how you use them, free from the tyranny of religion.
Exactly. It is such an amazing release and sense of peace when you finally shed the baggage of religion. At first, for me at least, it was hard. It was like losing a loved one when I let it go. And like the loss of a loved one, I mourned for a long time. It was a couple of years before I finally find some peace with the decision to walk away, now knowing full well it was the correct decision.
When I first stumbled across you blog a while back, I remember leaving a comment about agreeing with a lot of what you said, yet still considering myself a deist. You had asked me why. Why does a god have to be involved at all? I had no good answer and, looking back, I think it was just me trying to hold on to what was normal and familiar to me. It was for security and comfort. But it wasn’t real. In time, I shed that coat as well.
No more hiding under the blanket of religion. I felt exposed at first, but now I am comfortable in my own skin. No more fear of God. No more fear of what people think. No more worrying about eternal consequences when there is no evidence of an eternity. I cannot worry about the hypothetical consequences of my actions or inaction with regards to religion. I have better things to do than worry about all of the what ifs. If God has something to say to me, I’m all ears.
Nice post Neil. I think the biggest problem in religion is the denial of free thought and the “hive mind” atmosphere of the church. Everyone is supposed to think the same, act the same and teach others the same. Not enough people take the time to stop and ask why. Christianity has become a religion of statements only and never questions. Just blindly follow and regurgitate what you’ve learned. Have a question? Keep it to yourself and pray for God to remove the sin of doubt that lives within you.
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