This time it’s personal

Desperately searching for another reason to dismiss recent critiques of Christianity, Don has suggested that my views and those of commenters here are somehow invalid because they’re ‘personal’. (I declined to publish Don’s latest comment in which he elaborated on this theme; not only was he already on enforced rest but he also decided to have a rant about ‘sexual depravity’. This would appear to have been directed  at my own happy same-sex relationship, as well as all other forms of consensual sex that God Don disapproves of.)

So what’s wrong with ‘personal’? My faith, when I had it was personal. I’d prayed the sinner’s prayer in which I confessed I was a sinner and I received Jesus into my heart (or so I thought) and began to live my life in accordance with what he required of me. This personal relationship with Jesus, as it was usually described in evangelical circles, was reinforced by the preaching I heard in church, by prayer meetings and Bible studies, by the devotional books I read, C. S. Lewis’s writing and the notes I used alongside my personal Bible reading.

I’ve written before how I abandoned all of this when, in a time of crisis, God wasn’t there, and I eventually came to realise, in what I can only describe as a moment of personal revelation, that this was because he didn’t exist.

I then set about discovering what it was I had believed for the previous 30 years; what were these beliefs that had shaped my life, determining what I did, who I married, my morality, my sense of guilt and failure… essentially all that I was. That quest, which began with my broadening my reading well beyond the bounds of devotional Christian books (how treacherous I felt when I first picked them up!) was personal. It was fuelled by the reaction of some Christian friends who attacked me personally when, still later, I came out not only as an atheist but as gay too. My dealings with one particular zealous and homophobic friend led to my first book and ultimately, over 12 years ago, to this blog.

RejectingJesus is a personal working out of my love-hate relationship with Christianity. It is, I hope, informed by my reading but it is first and foremost personal. The posts are my analysis of Christianity as it is practised and my own dissection of the Bible. I’m not a historian nor a theologian (thank god); my Masters is in English Literary Research and it is these skills, together with my knowledge of the Bible from my Christian days, that I apply in my sometimes irreverent analyses. Nothing is sacred, though I’m aware of the importance of providing evidence for my claims and, where relevant, in citing appropriate sources, which is why I provide links and reference relevant verses from the Bible. Perversely, Don also accuses me of being in thrall to the scholars I cite; the opposite of his complaint that posts are ‘personal’.

Do I then, as Don implies, try to discredit the Bible because I’m gay? Am I, as Don suggests, motivated by the ‘constraints’ the Bible places on my sexuality? I don’t believe so. Once I recognised that God didn’t exist, it followed that he could not have any opinion about homosexuality or indeed anything else. Like any other fictional character, his views were created by those who presumed to speak for him: ‘I am so mysterious and my ways unknowable. Oh, but by the way, I really don’t like those depraved gays. Feel at liberty to stone them.’ God’s self-appointed homophobes have to be challenged because of the damage they do.

Am I as an atheist predisposed to being critical of both faith and the Bible, as Christian readers sometimes say? Undoubtedly, but I’m no more predisposed than as a Christian I was predisposed to see God everywhere. As Nan put it in a recent comment:

Any individual who allows him/herself to put aside the centuries-long teachings of Christianity … and read the scriptures without bias and/or preconception … cannot fail to see the multitude of inconsistencies.

Nor can they fail to see the Bible’s flights of fancy, its reliance on dreams and visions, its make-believe and pretend fulfilment of prophecy, its forgeries and false promises, its disconnect from reality and magical thinking, its supernaturalism and sheer cultishness. Critically evaluating scriptures at face value, without making excuses for them or trying to guessing what the original writers might have ‘intended’ or deciding that unpalatable parts are ‘really’ symbolic/metaphorical is, however ‘personal’, by far the more honest approach.

To insinuate with a personal slur that having ‘personal’ reasons for criticising Christianity is a weak ad hominem. It does not address the arguments in question nor the issues at hand. Anyone who wants to demonstrate that what I say about the Bible, Christian belief and practice is wrong needs to provide evidence of their own. Insult, screeds of Bible quotation and ‘a legion of “work arounds”’ (Nan again) is not how to go about it.

 

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12 thoughts on “This time it’s personal

  1. Of course it is personal. How could it be otherwise? I tell people my blog is “one man’s journey from eternity to here” or “one man with a story to tell.” Both of us could write technical posts about the Bible and Christianity. Why we could even throw in some Greek or Hebrew. Such blogs are a dime a dozen. What people want are personal stories they can relate to. Personally, I love ❤️ your stories. Jesus used stories to reach people, why shouldn’t we? 🤣

    I have no toleration for Evangelical homophobes. Just banned one recently. He made disparaging comments about LGBTQ people. He called them reprobates. People raised in the church know exactly what that word means.

    Keep up the good work, my friend. ❤️❤️

    Bruce

    Liked by 2 people

  2. For some, the drive to convert others to Christianity (or to bring them back “into the fold”) is not only strong — it is all-consuming. They become totally insensitive to the individual circumstances of the “unsaved” in their incessant drive to “bring them to Christ.” There is NO middle ground for them. It is all or nothing.

    What they fail to recognize again and again is there is simply nothing there. And no matter what scripture or what “personal experience” they put forth, it is never going to persuade the person who has already “been there, done that” and has experienced the total futility of seeking after the non-existent.

    P.S. Appreciate that you found my remarks worthy of mention. 😍

    Liked by 1 person

    • I always find your comments to be thoughtful and wise, Nan. You’re right about evangelicals being driven to force Jesus on everyone, as if we’ve never heard of him before. ‘Let me tell you what a despicable sinner you are and once I have, let me tell you what you should do about it.’ All in the name of love of course.
      No thanks. As you say, been there, done that.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I grew up a fundamentalist Christian. Went to high school in the late 70s. College in the early 80s. I watched as the AIDS epidemic took hold of America and American Christians used it to renew and intensify their hatred and oppression of gay Americans. Sadly, I repeated lies and distortions taught to me as “truth.” I was taught to hate and call it love.

    It was easy. I was a cis (white) male in a cis (white) world. I married my college sweetheart and went about my life.

    I remember, in those early AIDS days, one of the big talking points was some study showing gay men had large numbers of partners compared to straight men. We used this to “prove” gay men were immoral.

    I remember, when Prop 8 came around, how Christians flipped the script from the 80s. In the 80s, gays were immoral for wanting to sleep around. In the 2000s, gays were immoral for wanting to settle down and get married.

    It was the first time in a life full of cognitive dissonance that I allowed myself to see the hypocrisy of my church and my friends and family. Shouldn’t we be happy with the progress? Yes, being gay was still a sin. But settling down and marrying a partner would certainly be better than the sleeping around we accused people of in the 80s.

    Surely too, if I found someone to love who loved me back and was allowed to marry them and build a life together, so should gay people be allowed that choice. Isn’t that what treating others as I would want to be treated all about?

    For the first time I couldn’t let cognitive dissonance work its magic. For the first time I couldn’t just repeat the proper verses and the proper bullet points. For the first time I recognized that my church was wrong. My community was wrong. They were the ones choosing to oppress rather than build.

    I remember vividly the exact moment I gave myself permission to question my church, my community, my god. Instantly I knew god was wrong on this one point. Over the next few weeks, one by one, “facts” and points of doctrine fell to critical review. Within a month I recognized, and was willing to admit, that God wasn’t real, Christianity was a lie, and I couldn’t be part of it any longer.

    Basically, I owe my escape from Christianity to the bigotry of Christians. It was a big, red, flashing sign saying this was not a good or moral system. I’m embarrassed I didn’t realize it sooner. Bible God is a moral monster and it turns people like Don into bigots.

    Liked by 2 people

    • That ol’ cognitive dissonance has to work really hard in Christians. It leads, in my experience anyway, to all sorts of mental health issues. I’m glad you were able to escape it with you examination of the facts and how Christianity looks in practice. So many don’t.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I have a similar story to Koseighty…I was raised in a baptist church…when I was a xtian I was very homophobic. When I deconverted, one of my first realizations was that the only reason I had for disliking homosexuality was because of what the bible said. I then began to question my other beliefs, and came to the realization that I’m a liberal!

    Neil: “Once I recognised that God didn’t exist, it followed that he could not have any opinion about homosexuality or indeed anything else.”

    That’s exactly how I felt!

    I had always believed that the bible was a perfect book, THE most perfect book ever written…then I thought, would the most perfect book tell me that someone should be killed just for loving someone else?
    How barbaric!

    Neil, I follow you and Bruce…I admire you both!

    Liked by 1 person

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