Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Passing this on from....

Mrs. Darcy

Fear, Compulsion and Religious Abuse

This world is broken and ruined. We come into it broken, and then we just get broken more. Fear is part of that brokenness, and it’s in our spiritual DNA. We all have, at the core of our beings, fear of the outer darkness, fear of God’s judgment, fear of many other lesser evils that all echo the terrible, primal, unbearable fear of eternity. But you and I know that’s not the end of the story. Christ came into the world to conquer fear and all other forms of brokenness and restore us to the security we were created in. “Perfect love casts out fear.” Religion, properly taught and properly practiced, teaches us the security we have in Christ and teaches us not to fear any longer. He faced the darkness on our behalf and broke it into smithereens, broke open the eternal tomb, and shed His light on everything. He looked under the bed and into the closet, shone flashlights behind the dresser and showed us that there’s nothing there to hurt us. He made everything ok. He turned on the nightlight and the hallway light and left our doors open, and left His door open, too. This is wonderful! It emboldens us to do amazing, daring things, to go into lions’ dens and confront principalities and pull down idols and rush into burning buildings to save the innocent and do deeds of daring for Christ’s kingdom, because we know He’s with us and has it all under control. No fear of judgment, no fear of damnation to trip us up and keep us from doing our work in the world.

Bad religion turns this good thing upside down and inside out. Instead of speaking comfort to us and echoing the Angels’ admonition to fear not, it plays up our primal fear and uses it to shackle us. Spiritually unwell people, who themselves have not received the healing and freedom from fear that Christ offers, are not content to see others live in security without fear. They believe that God’s judgment is hanging over their heads by a thin thread and will fall on them if they breathe too deeply. Religion for them becomes an obsession, an addiction, a thing to turn to compulsively again and again in order to get quick little shots of relief from their fear.

You know what I’m talking about. In order to quell the fear that you’ll be judged by God, or that you maybe aren’t genuinely saved, you surround yourself with external security blankets. You keep the rules. You go to church as often as it’s offered. You talk Christianese so the people around you will look at you approvingly. You give your testimony publicly so people will tell you it’s genuine. You put religious identifiers on your car bumpers and the walls in your house. You talk about all the false teachings of all those other churches. You hold to more and more strict ideas of morality in order to feel that you are clearly and obviously different from the lost sinners of the world. You display your religiousness in whatever way gives you the most assurance.

It’s never enough, though. These artifices aren’t once and done—they have to be returned to again and again, and in larger doses. You will find yourself drawn to the more legalistic churches. You will feel that if rigid, ‘righteous’ Pharisaical people who are so quick to judge others and so hard to satisfy and who seem to have such strict ideas of what it takes to please God can give you their stamp of approval, then you might be able to believe you are secure. But what you don’t see is that the more power you give the Pharisees to dole out security and approval to you, the more they will use that power to jerk your strings for the pleasure of watching you dance. You see, they are compulsively attempting to quell their own fears, too, and their chosen addiction is the power to lord if over other peoples’ consciences. It can be argued that their fear is so much greater than yours, so the drug they need to subdue that fear is so much stronger—it’s not enough for them to keep the rules and surround themselves with showy religion; they have to control the spiritual lives of the people around them. If they can do that, they feel more secure. If they can dole out judgment and forgiveness, they can believe that they might have the power to escape judgment themselves.

It is extremely difficult to break this compulsive, addictive cycle. As long as you are among legalistic people, I fear to say you may not be able to be free of it at all. The best place to be is among people whose attitudes are a mixture of reverence for Christ, love of serving and helping their neighbors, a desire to comfort and support one another, and a very low opinion of their own righteousness and their right to tell other people how to live. The Pharisee that you have sitting on your shoulder (we all have one) will probably tell you that this sounds like loosey-goosey religion, liberalism, anything goes, that you have to confront peoples’ sin, not gloss it over, if you’re going to be a genuine church. I can say a lot about this, but I also know from experience that any change of attitude is difficult to accept until you’ve made your break with the Pharisees entirely.

But I do not despair. Christ is saving us all, and I have great hope for you and me and for our abusers alike. Blessings to you all.


Pablo said...

Fantastic post, Roland. Your theology is right on, and I love the way you pointed out that we're born broken and we all live with fear.

Insightful and inspired. Made my day.

Anonymous said...

We are not born broken.

I don't live in fear. And I have legitimate reason to fear the things I do. Such as, I fear a bullet to the head but I don't fear death.

Timm said...

I like this post, but I'm a little unsettled about it. It seems to me that we need something right in between the two extremes that she presents here. On one end, she has the leaders of the church "lord(ing) it over other peoples' consciences." On the other end, we have a church were there is no accountability. Both ends of the spectrum make the evangelical church look very bad. One is for of Pharisees. The other is full of hypocrites.

We must have church discipline, but it must be done in love and with respect. It must be mutual accountability, In other words, the sheep must be free to rebuke the Shepard, (also with love and respect.) I know Mrs. Darcy is not suggesting that no Church discipline is a good thing, but the last paragraph could easily be read that way.

I'm also curious what she means when she says, "Christ is saving us all."

Roland said...

Pablo, Thanks. I stole it, but think its right on.

Konig, Thanks for stopping by.

Timm, it's a hard thing. I'll let you think about it.

Timm said...

Gee, thanks. :)
Is that to imply that there is some part of my statement that you disagree with?

Roland said...

Not quite Timm. Just noticing this:
"The Pharisee that you have sitting on your shoulder (we all have one) will probably tell you that this sounds like loosey-goosey religion, liberalism, anything goes, that you have to confront peoples’ sin, not gloss it over, if you’re going to be a genuine church."

In comparison to this:
"I know Mrs. Darcy is not suggesting that no Church discipline is a good thing, but the last paragraph could easily be read that way."

I'm not disagreeing. Just wondering why we sometimes think that the leadership can't handle it. Or wondering why the people can't.
I just keep remembering that Christ set us free. Not that we won't end up being accountable to ourselves and each other, but that we will be free.
It's very scary. And yet, not scary at all.

layneh said...

Hard fact to face is that Christ is NOT saving us all.

There is always a middle ground, things are rarely left in extremes alone. It is better not to answer, than to answer in extremes.

Roland said...

If you agree that Christ is saving you, then all who read and agree with the statement will be saved.
If you read Konig's answer, you realize that some still are not part of the all that will be saved.

Anonymous said...

I like the post. I can say been there, done that. As far as the "all saved" - not really our concern. Jesus said that his sheep will hear his voice. So as long as we speak with his voice, the sheep will hear. We don't need to care about the non-sheep, for they have chosen their place. Our job is to speak; not save.

Just a thought.

Roland said...

Good point Geppy.

Anonymous said...

You say it's good news but what I hear from your speaking is, it looks like I'm going to hell. I hope some of you Christians misinterpret Jesus, so I can have more diverse company in the eternal torture pit. I would hate to get stuck in hell with only Muslims, Jews, Hindus and Buddhists to keep me company. One would think god would be happy with me just not believing any of them and their false idols.

Roland said...

If you are drowning and someone reaches out a hand to help you out, you slap it away. "I'll do it on my own, thank you very much!" is just a symptom of where you are.
And if you think theat everyone here believes that all Muslims, Jews, Hindus and Buddhists are going to hell, check this out:

And God isn't focused on sending people to hell.
He IS focused on loving people and spending eternity with them.
The glass isn't always half empty.

Anonymous said...

Your statement asserts that I am drowning. I am not drowning, just as I was not born broken. Why, as a spokesperson of "god", does Jesus have to focus on saving us, if there is not the threat of eternal damnation. You can't just have it one way, if you claim there is this supernatural bliss glass and rejoice in the half full, you imply the half empty. I not missing the hope of heaven and I don't fear hell. I'm happy with life on earth.

I know that many Christians have a hard time believing that the majority of the human population is damned to hell because they don't have the Jesus. It's not my problem to make sense of this non-sense because I know that heaven and hell do not exist.

What is my problem is the crazy people who believe that I'm going to be punished after death even if they don't want to admit that their beliefs imply this. I've read the gospels Roland and it's not good news unless you buy into the born bad belief. And your lovely martyr is "quoted" 19 times requesting to be followed for forgiveness. There is little room for interpretation about that. If you claim that to be saved you don't have to do the simplest thing the "savior" requests, then you don't have to do anything.

You think I'm desperate because I don't believe in the after life. Just for a minute put yourself in my shoes. If I don't believe in life after death what am I losing? Why would I want to spend the only time I have, dreaming of the life I will never get. We're doing the same work Roland. I'm trying to save your life, the life on earth. Save you from wasting it on bullshit and save you from being an ass by convincing other people to waste their life.

My intent is a positive one. I'm not trying to recruit for the "atheists" because we are not a club. Without the religion atheists need no modifier, we are simply human and that's complex enough for us.

Think of a person who believes that they are Superman. You would think that this behavior is problematic and dangerous? They would see your attempts to open their eyes to the truth as a threat. You would be taking away something they hold dear: A delusion of mass proportions.

Instead of bringing me the good news about your favorite superhero and his promise of fairyland, why don't you coherently explain why I'm "broken". Give me a reason to believe that my life isn't enough. You are the human who's glass is half empty. I love my life, my friends and family and the earth. I'm greatfull for my impending death because that will be my eternal rest and it will be the time that I hand the human torch to the next generation.

nate said...

Dude, yes I did just say dude, this post is excellent. As one who has been there, you hit the nail on the head. Legalism only leads to more rules and more looking around to make sure that you are OK. God doesn't want us to live like that, or else we would be living like konig is accusing us of doing. So keep up the good work. I will be back.

Anonymous said...

It doesn't take written laws to look around like that. All it takes is faith.

Roland said...

"...because I know that heaven and hell do not exist." - Konig
- Yet I know that they do exist. My proof is what I heard from reliable witness. The same as you. So it would seem we are at an impasse. I can't prove it this fairy tale to you any more than you can prove the fairy tale of evolution.

"And your lovely martyr is "quoted" 19 times requesting to be followed for forgiveness. There is little room for interpretation about that. If you claim that to be saved you don't have to do the simplest thing the "savior" requests, then you don't have to do anything."
- Very true. Very, VERY TRUE. He gives out forgiveness like someone who gives out candy to trick-or-treaters at Halloween. But you have to go to the door to get the candy. You refuse to accept what is freely given.

"We're doing the same work Roland. I'm trying to save your life, the life on earth."
- Hehe. It's already been done my friend. I LIVE this life FULLY! I wish we could meet face to face. The talks we would have the chance to share and become better acquainted. We would not seem so different. I agree with you on that one.

"Think of a person who believes that they are Superman. You would think that this behavior is problematic and dangerous? They would see your attempts to open their eyes to the truth as a threat."
- Sadly, I agree. So does that lovely martyr.

"Instead of bringing me the good news about your favorite superhero and his promise of fairyland, why don't you coherently explain why I'm "broken"."
- Look how you act. There is nothing more I can do than that right now.
Thanks for the comments Konig. I really do appreciate them. No kidding.

And Nate. Thanks to you to dude. Never had a problem with that term. It implies friendship. And that is a great thing.

Roland said...

When you wrote, "Hard fact to face is that Christ is NOT saving us all."
It really bugged me. Not because you believe it, but because I almost did.

How many people does God want to be saved? If you know the answer, then you realize that he causes the rain to fall on all and the sun to shine on all.
There is a goal He is accomplishing. Will everyone accept the work being done for them? Unfortunately no. But that doesn't mean He will stop doing what He does. And He came here to save. We know that there is more to come, but that is what He is doing now.

nate said...

Here is my question, why does a person who doesn't believe in God, read these blogs, or even bother to reply? Just wondering?

Timm said...

Atheist have removed God. What this effectively does is remove meaning from their lives. It seems that the uderlying goal of atheists is to make our lives as empty and meaningless as thiers by convincing us that our creator is not real.

No konig, I'm not saying that is your motive. Just that it seems to be a recurring theme among most of the atheists I've met.

Anonymous said...

Evolution is used many times in arguments against the god hypothesis. Evolution doesn't disprove anything about the Abrahamic religions except for the credibility of the bible. I've never needed the complexity of evolution to remove the credibility of the bible. Once I figured out Santa was fiction, Jesus followed: The walking on water, the magic bread, ect. was all I needed to hear to realize something was fishy over the J-man.

"My" proof of evolution comes not from my faith in the biologists word, it comes from the chain-terminators, fossils, radio dating, inherited genetic patterns ect.

"My proof is what I heard from reliable witness."

That is your proof of a guy walking on water. What would you say to a reliable witness today that said they knew the son of god because they walked on water. Would you require photographs, video, a demonstration and skeptical scientists to determine the truth or would you trust they guy on the corner waving the neotestimate in gods name who declares you a devil for your doubt.

"I can't prove this fairy tale to you any more than you can prove the fairy tale of evolution."

I don't want to focus on evolution but it seems one of the theists most praised disarguments. Scientists can prove evolution just as much as gravity. What you ask is that we prove gravity till the end of time for you to be satisfied that gravity is true. That's your problem not mine. Your fairy tale was disproved by logic alone; Epicurus did it 2300 years ago.

Nate, the reason I read these blogs and interact with Christians (roland is a friend) is because it's dangerous for people to think bullshit like this, "What this effectively does is remove meaning from their lives."

Timm, knowing reality doesn't remove any "meaning" from my life, your belief reveals that you have removed a level of value you place on my life. I value your life because I know that in a few people removed, we are connected, and my well being is dependent on your well being. "remove meaning from their life" Who the hell would desire their life to have less meaning? Life means everything to every living thing. "remove meaning" That's exactly what you would expect someone who believed they were superman to say when you told them they couldn't fly.

layneh said...

Christ came to offer a way out, or to "Save" us. While this offer applies to all, not all will accept it.

That is why I conclude, not all will be saved. As in, not all roads lead to heaven.

Anonymous said...


layneh said...

Robert(K√łnig), I cant help to question your logic here. It sounds like you only believe something to be true if you see it with your own eyes or science (I take this from your "santa" story).

What is it that allows you to place belief in something? How do you decipher fact from fiction?

Anonymous said...

It's very simple actually. I don't believe things that I can see with my own eyes. If I can see it, I know it. And if what I see seems to brake the laws of physics, which have been completely consistent in my life and in the life of objective cold data gathers, I will be skeptical. This scenario usually only occurs with magicians or in theme parks where the producers of things that "break the laws" guard the experience. That is reason not to trust what is seen. Only someone who has nothing to hide will be completely open to inquire (does anyone smell video tapes burning?)

As far as history is concerned. The truth is only as reliable as the source and objectivity of the person that wrote it. And even then is open it interpretation. While there is a high probability the Egyptians existed because of all the building they did and their dead bodies, the details of their life are less reliable. This is true throughout history and the more powerful or popular a person was, the more easily the truth about their actions can be distorted ether by them or their followers. It's hard enough deciding what to believe about the leaders of today, let alone the leaders of the past.

It requires no belief to know that Picasso and Rembrandt existed and were skilled artists. I will place belief in something if there is reason to do so and their is no evidence that discredits it. The more outlandish the claim the more reason and evidence is required. I can understand why people would doubt evolution without the mountain of fossils . But with the fossils and mutually supportive evidence, it is not acceptable for any person who can read, not knowing the basics of evolution.

For the most part it's not difficult to decipher fact from fiction. Most fiction is openly presented as such. We all have to live with the fact that all human events in the past, that are only known of through written record or hearsay, have a probability of being false. The more evidence that supports the claims the higher the probability of truth. A consensus of opinion, or words, (which are often nothing more than written opinion, imagination, hearsay or plagiarism), is not evidence. A billion people believing something because of feelings lends no more credibility to it than one crazy man on the street with a feeling all of his own.

I don't believe in the supernatural for very complex esoteric logical reasons. I don't expect people to believe what I know, but I don't except believing in nonsense because it feals good.

Anonymous said...

One discussion on the afterlife that I read recently had a slightly different viewpoint. In that discussion it was still agreed that those who accept our God's salvation will live forever in peace with him (on the renovated earth). But difference was a lack of belief in eternal punishment.

So if this thought is true, eternal life and salvation being offered by the Creator of everything is one choice. The complete and utter removal of your existance is the other.

I don't know which is worse: eternal punishment or being uncreated.

Anonymous said...

"being uncreated" is logically incongruent. Once a painting is painted the painting can be destroyed but the fact that it existed can never be undone. And that's true even if the entire universe blows up into nothing.

The reason I don't fear after death is because there is sufficient reason to believe it"'s" exactly like before birth. And I know that before birth "was"n't bad.

MrsDarcy_MrsDarcy_MrsDarcy said...

Thanks, Roland, for throwing this piece out here on blogspot land! You have a lot of intelligent cyber-friends.

Nothing to add. You did a great job.

Roland said...

Layne, I agree with:
"That is why I conclude, not all will be saved. As in, not all roads lead to heaven."
But that doesn't keep God from offering to everyone. I think you would agree with that too. We're on the same page.

I love the fervor with which you back up your points. But just to nudge you a little on the fossil evidence. Did you know a fossil can be created in as little as 10 years?

Being uncreated sounds so much more attractive then burned to a crisp. I don't believe it, but then again, I've been wrong before.

When Timm talked about removing meaning from life, he is right. But I want to look at it differently.
Konig, you think that if you gave enough evidence that refuted the existence of God, people would quit believing.
A few of us here think that there is more that can be inferred to show that God exists than not. Even with mounds of evidence.
Whether that evidence is has flawed logic is irrelevant for the moment. We'll pretend it doesn't.
I would still believe that God exists.

A couple of questions I have for those of atheistic bent.
Where do emotions come from? I mean there is not logical reason for them, is there?
Was Jesus a good man or not?
(Didn't ask if you thought he was crazy, just if you thought he was good.)

Timm said...

"I don't know which is worse: eternal punishment or being uncreated."

Seems obvious to me Geppy. The choice is enternal punishment or being put out of your misery. I'd take the humane route.

This is a relitively new idea anyway. I don't know of any church founders or early historians that believe this. I think Hell is exactly what scripture tells us it is... Eternal.

Timm said...

"When Timm talked about removing meaning from life, he is right."

Did everyone read that the same way I did? Roland said I'm right about something! This is going to be a good day.

I joke because I love ya brother. :)

Roland said...

Actually Hell isn't eternal.
Do you know where it says that?
Never mind, I'm going to make it a post. :)

Anonymous said...

Again Raland, Evolution is not the reason I don't believe the Bible. The bible is why I don't believe the bible. The fact that it doesn't take a long time to make a fossil doesn't disprove the age of the fossils. It's the radio active isotope of carbon (or radioactive elements that surround the fossil) that is measured which reveals the age of a fossil. If carbon was found from a Tyrannosaurus that was 10 years old that would disprove evolution. That's how evidence, logic and proof work.

"I would still believe that God exists."

Well there's a conversation stopper.

Roland said...

Carbon dating has its flaws as well, but what about the Bible so bothers you?
Is it the Bible and its inconsistencies?
Is it the way some people use it as a weapon?
I'm just curious.

Anonymous said...

Books don't bother me.

Roland said...

"The bible is why I don't believe the bible."
"Books don't bother me."


Anonymous said...

"Disbelief" does not equal "bother"

Harry Potter doesn't bother me. But I don't like the book and I don't believe it's about real people.

What does bother me is adults believing they're real and/or works of the boogie man.

Roland said...

So you don't like the art of story?
No, that wouldn't be it.
You don't think the Bible is accurate. It is a work of fiction.
So Harry Potter is story and the Bible is story.
Okay. Is there nothing you can learn from them, then?