No Shame When Acting In God’s Name
My life was once angels and demons, speaking in tongues, miracles, and prophecy. If you would’ve asked me what would shake my faith in God, I’d adamantly have said “nothing.” I would have died for my beliefs and seen it as an honour; my chin held high, pride bursting from every pore.
Reflecting on my thoughts and feelings then and now is sometimes quite surreal.
[Some] believe it’s their religious right to impose their beliefs rather than exercise them.
For the longest time, I battled with the idea of talking with Christians about my exodus. I was concerned that my thought processes or the questions that started my journey could possibly begin the same trek for them. I didn’t want to potentially be responsible for taking something away, which I had no right deciding for them.
However, lately, many in political power & their electorate seem to believe it’s their religious right to impose their beliefs rather than exercise them. I get a bit persnickety when choice is dissolved and control is imposed.
In endeavouring to build bridges of understanding and communication, one approach I attempted was to quote their scriptures and beliefs in our conversations. Admittedly, I sometimes let my frustrations get the better of me. So, I wasn’t as effective of a communicator as I could’ve been, every time.
Generally, this approach was too optimistic. I mean, the Bible is extremely inconsistent and full of contradictions. Ask any denomination, church, or believer to speak about a topic or to defend a stance, and the message or arguments will slip and slide every which way. One verse says something is a sin, another may discount it or present a slightly different interpretation, and we haven’t even touched on the numerous Biblical translations.
Carry this way of thinking out of the religious arena, and these same individuals tend to flip-flop and dodge and weave over nearly everything. Minimal, if any, responsibility is taken, there’s less than zero accountability, and they offer few apologies. Regarding ideas or beliefs, they attribute their stances to their faith & God’s commandments/Word. If it’s personal in nature:
‘The devil made me do it.’ ‘I was tempted.’
Or ‘It’s not really their doing; they’re possessed.’ ‘They’re possessed; they’re being tested.’
Or ‘It’s in God’s hands.’ ‘God will handle it.’
But after all that, regardless of who’s deemed responsible, the world is quickly seen right again because “God forgives” — most especially if you’re in da club aka a Christian. So, there’s no critical thinking involved, no hard soul searching or evaluation, no painful reflection. “Only God can change my heart.”
Much of what’s believed is laid out by their church, in scripture and its interpretation, and by leaders — religious or otherwise. At its core, it’s an authoritarian perspective. One is obedient; no questions asked. How dare anyone ask questions, not fall in line, not do as they’re told, etc.? (i.e. Thus, the blame often seen placed on PoC, who run from the police in fear for their lives. Authority is ‘always right.’)
Looking for and seeing “sin” dehumanizes and turns men, women, and children into statistics. When you seek to judge, to decide who needs “saving” or prayer or discipleship, you are no longer capable of seeing the person before you as an equal.
Typically, I don’t think many are consciously aware of these drivers. They live in search of the feel-good answer; whatever fits their prescribed mold, view, or understanding of the world that assures they’ll feel comfortable, again. That’s why anything threatening the status quo is the enemy. That’s why the phrase “Fake News” has taken on a new meaning, now serving to discount or dismiss uncomfortable information.
It’s also very difficult to discuss ideas or create productive legislation with a group who believes their morality is “God given” and yours is a “preference.” They do not believe morality is subjective; that morality consists of preferences — Christian or not. Forget empathy, environmental or cultural factors, or anything else.
Here’s the thing. When Christians (or any group) label someone a “sinner,” it teaches the believer to see the “sin” before the person. It sets the living, breathing human apart as “other.” They become “the gays,” “the gamblers,” “the sluts,” etc., instead of David who is a father and husband, Sarah who plays poker and is a philanthropist, and Cordelia who’s single and a successful entrepreneur. Looking for and identifying “sin” dehumanizes and turns men, women, and children into statistics. When you seek to judge, to decide who needs “saving” or prayer or discipleship, you are no longer capable of seeing the person before you as an equal. You lose sight of the fact that neither of you is any better or worse than the other. When you remove the judgmental veil, you begin to clearly see the person in front of you. You realize that someone dearly loves them, foibles and all, and you see the beauty in them that you failed to see before. This is where the bridge building begins; internally.
It’s repeatedly assumed that Republican law makers will feel shame, at some point. However, there’s no shame when you believe your morality is “God given” and non-believers’ morality is a “preference.”
Unfortunately, I don’t think this idea can be fully grasped by Evangelicals, until they’re standing on the outside of that world looking in. There are too many ingrained beliefs about those on the outside. Atheists and humanists are “evil,” and the anger we exhibit is supposedly anger at Christianity and God. Something was either “done” to us or we’ve been possessed. See? We couldn’t possibly have reasoned our way out (or never in, to begin with). It was someone or something else that “corrupted” us. Ad nauseam. Ugh! (If they believe God gave us our brains, why is it inconceivable that we used them?! And why is it a sin to use this “gift” to come to a different conclusion than to believe in him/Christianity?!)
It’s repeatedly assumed that Republican law makers will feel shame, at some point. However, there’s no shame when you believe your morality is “God given” and non-believers’ morality is a “preference.” Then, you’re acting as an extension of God’s right hand on behalf of those who’ve been corrupted, influenced by outside forces, and don’t know any better. It’s your job to “take back” the nation, to instill morality or “character development” in the young, to protect women from themselves, to legislate Biblical beliefs whenever possible.
Evangelical Christians are so afraid of Sharia law that they fail to see they’re creating and imposing a law of their own; one that is mentally and emotionally abusive, cutting deeper and leaving scars for generations to come.
Nothing starts out as starkly as the setting in The Handmaid’s Tale. When will society clue in? For Offred’s friends and family, for everyone living in that world, it was too late when they finally did wake up…