Reflections on Spirituality

Christianity Without the Religion and Religious Trauma Syndrome (RTS).

My childhood friend and classmate, Ginger Claremohr shared an article regarding the Psychological Harms of Bible-Believing Christianity. You can read it here. I’m not posting this to start a hate debate with anyone so please don’t even start one. I love, do business with, and am friends with various religious beliefs as well as those who have no religion or belief of a God in any context. I love people regardless of where they are on this journey and I won’t tolerate anyone demonizing anyone in the thread.

I feel I also must clarify that I do not view my Christian faith the way the author of this article portrays it, but when it appears in the UK as well as a potential diagnosis in future DSM reprints that psychologists adhere to, I believe fellow Christians should be more vigilant to embrace those who have had horrific experiences and be patient and gentle and extend love and generosity even more.

My heart breaks as more and more people view Christianity as mind controlling and abusive. I am a follower of Jesus Christ, and these days I cringe to even use the term Christian because of what dangerous sects within the overall religion have done and continue to do “in the name of god” and their gross misinterpretations of the Bible to continue justifying their motives and actions toward other human beings. And as the article states, there are also other religions that follow suit, so it’s not just this one.

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My hope is that the public at large will see that not all versions of so-called christianity worship the same god. My hope is that people may see God in a different context, as the Creator who loves to delight His children and wants a relationship with each human being on the planet. When I read the Bible, I never see God coercing people, demonizing them, or using fear tactics to draw them closer to Himself. He constantly pursues, rescues, provides, judges sin (we do that in our legal systems), and reveals Himself over and over again to show His heart amd love for people. He even reveals the true nature of His heart through Jesus who made it possible for us to be reconciled to God through His death on a cross, His resurrection from the dead, and His ascension into Heaven.

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Of course if you don’t believe Jesus is the only way to God and/or you don’t believe the Bible is truth or God’s Word, then this whole discussion is a moot point. But it is worth exploring as you likely know people who do and it may help you understand why they act the way they do if they have bought into some of the damaging interpretations. If you have relationships with Christians, look for those who actually love people, are generous, honor you as a human being, and aren’t arrogant in their beliefs (and I can say this because in the past I was in the camp that taught me your blood was on my hands and it was my job to defend the Gospel and prove its “truth” to the bitter end. This line of thinking set me up for relational and spiritual failure for years, and when I finally understood I could give God His job back, I was free to just be a person and sweep my own steps rather than everyone elses).

At any rate, I don’t believe God created humans to blindly follow Him without knowing all the facts. It’s probably why He gave us the ability to think and reason and communicate. As I unraveled the religious system I grew up in, and re-read the Gospel of John with fresh eyes, I saw something completely different in the person of Christ that wooed me back to Him. Now I’m a part of a house church that follows the New Testament model (a great article about how that works can be read here.

Photo Credit: MPR News

If you are a fellow Christian, I implore you to consider your own roots and ask yourself are you REALLY FREE and do you truly know the person of Christ, or just a blind follower of a religion that perhaps is more about the rules, regulations, and systems to keep everything under control? There is a huge difference.

Regarding one subject in the article, for any person to read the Bible and then interpret we should beat our kids into submission is a gross misunderstanding of God’s heart who also clearly says if anyone hurts one of these little ones, it would be better for them to tie a millstone around their neck and drown themselves.

I personally didn’t read the Bible for an extended period of time because every time I did, all I heard was what I grew up in, and everyone else’s interpretation of it. I asked God to begin to reveal himself to me in other ways besides the written word. After all, if remote parts of the world can behold his glory, then why can’t I here in the West? And honestly, He DID come through for me. Now when I read the Bible, I don’t hear all the other interpretations anymore, as I just allow my relationship with God to guide me into the truths within its pages.

Photo Credit: Bethany Laird, Unsplash

Of course it’s taken me nearly two decades to unravel all of it, so I don’t pretend it’s an easy journey, but I now see the Bible from the perspective of the Eastern world which is circular in reasoning and not linear like here in the West. It changes everything, as you begin to realize these writers were presenting a way of life that shows a person how to expand their knowledge and change within the context of community, rather than A+B=C.

It’s a hard subject, and I still mourn and grieve the loss of my childhood where perhaps I could have lived within the extravagant love of God rather than fear and judgment and isolation and shame. All I can do now is move forward with new information I have gleaned and live in it now.

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