Is a relationship based solely on a fear of what life would be like outside of said relationship a relationship at all?
My answer in short, no.
To delve in a bit deeper I will quote a line from one of my current reads: “There have been two opposing reactions to the decay of belief: relief in tossing off the old shackles, and worry that reason and sanity will give way to chaos.” From The Wisdom of Insecurity by Alan Watts.
I will recall for you a moment I remember during my time in leadership at the local mega church. On a Sunday morning, in an open dialogue between upper level leaders, a man begins to explain the idea (biblical truth?) neglecting to offer ten percent of your income to the church would undoubtedly bring a curse on your life, an expression of fear mongering to say the very least. I remember my years at this facility as a single mother, trying to avoid a curse on my life, giving everything I could give to this extravagant “house of God” out of fear if I didn’t I would potentially never get married, have unhealthy children, lose my position of influence in the church community, be asked to step down from serving, lose my job, etc. Now, this story is specific to a tithing issue but the list goes on and on with topics alike within the church body.
This blog is not to tackle the ideas of tithing and whether or not you believe it necessary for your life & your salvation. Maybe another time & another post. I am merely providing an example of and emphasis on the “curse” aspect & fear influence in exchange for loyalty and compliance from this example.
When I left said church this year, I punished myself with so many thoughts. I wasn’t going to be tithing. I wasn’t going to be serving a generous portion of my time to this community any longer. I wasn’t planning on opening up that bible and the worship music… forget about it. My life & everything I knew had been turned upside down & honestly I wasn’t/ still don’t know what I believe of those religious principles. With such an abrupt stop to all these rules I was holding onto for hope of a “blessed” future, I was forced to face the possibility that my life could become radically cursed in the absence of belief in all of these religious obligations. As I began to examine my heart and thoughts towards faith in general, I realized something. If I were to open up my bible, find another organization to become a part of, worship & pray… it would only be attempts to prevent anything bad from coming mine and my daughter’s way.
I refuse to believe in Christianity and follow the guidelines enforced by your local evangelical pastor merely because I’m afraid of the consequences otherwise. That’s not a relationship, that’s manipulation and I refuse to play that role.
Fear of a life I couldn’t understand is why I stayed in an abusive situation for six years with my daughter’s father. I was afraid of the uncertainty of life outside of it. The fear is what kept me there, not love. Should I choose to be in an intimate space with God, I will do so because I desire it from a genuine place, not because I am afraid of the consequences otherwise.
Some may see my perspective on this as spiritual deficiency but I consider myself to be in a place of deep spiritual discovery. Most people sign up for Christianity and don’t ever question or explore the alternatives. Most people filing in on Sunday mornings can’t account for their belief system. After all, they are taught heavily it is not Holy to ask questions that might contradict their way. So this is what I suggest from my perspective, examine your belief & be able to extensively account for it. If you can, great. I can’t and that too, is great.
Listening to The Liturgists Podcast this week, I was engaged in an episode on spiritual abuse. They spoke of how spiritual trauma affects our bodies physically. When there is trauma in our life our bodies, brains, and emotions react by trying to stop the trauma. Once you’ve been through some form of spiritual abuse it is normal to include the idea of God as trigger for that thing that caused you trauma. People (like me) walk away not engaging with Christ because their physical bodies and brains relate him to the trauma and we naturally want to reject it. It was said in the podcast that people who have found themselves in this place of spiritual seeking are doing more work than any one person who is active in a church community. We get into this place of wanting answers & begin a journey of exploration into the spiritual realm that most aren’t willing to venture into.
If there is a God & if he is sovergn… can we honestly believe manipulation, fear mongering & a web of social dominance would be the way he would choose to relate to us?
“The great religions are the ships, poets the lifeboats. Every sane person I know has jumped overboard.”-Hafiz
Mahatma Gandhi said: “It is better in prayer to have a heart without words than words without a heart. God has no religion.”