I tend to have trepidations when talking about the subject of religion. One of the main reasons is because I know that religion plays an important role in the lives of many people, but not everyone becomes as committed to their religion as I once was. People may call themselves a Christian, but I’m going to be blunt here — most people who call themselves Christians tend to know very little about their own religion or the contents of the Bible, their ‘guide book’.
They are cultural Christians.
Although I was raised a Christian, indoctrinated in Sunday school, religious schools and from the pulpit; it wasn’t until after the suicide of my husband that I really took my faith to another level. Due to tragedy, I was ripe for the picking. I was told by total strangers, who appeared to be quite caring, that Jesus would comfort me in my grief. But I was also told that I would have to do my part, too:
Die to myself.
I have the type of temperament that if I’m going to make a commitment to something or someone, I tend to take that commitment quite seriously and will go the distance. As instructed by scriptures, I prayed earnestly, read and studied my Bible daily, and dedicated my life to Jesus Christ, fully. After years of reading, studying, memorizing and hearing it continually preached from the pulpit, I became programmed to believe that the Bible was the word of God and that Christianity was ‘the truth’.
I never questioned. Without using any critical thinking skills, I submitted and obeyed. I still deal with embarrassment sometimes because I did so, willingly. But I also have to remind myself that I had been traumatized and was vulnerable.
Below are examples of many scriptures I read and heard preached over and over. Scriptures that played a role in killing ‘me’.
Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.”
John 12:24 “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”
Luke 9:23 “And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
1 Peter 4:1-2 “Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God.”
Galatians 5:24 “And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”
John 3:30 “He must increase, but I must decrease.”
Galatians 6:14 “But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”
Romans 12:1 “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”
I did my very best to heed this message; becoming a living sacrifice to God. I made a lot of sacrifices, indeed, especially as a woman.
Bottom line: they were in vain.
It took years of study before I came to realize this, and when I did it felt like the ultimate betrayal!
First of all, those scriptures are not based on any original manuscripts because there are no original manuscripts to date. Only copies of copies of copies; and those copies contradict each other. This is primarily due to copying errors and manuscript tampering by scribes and Church fathers with an agenda. I recommend an excellent lecture at Stanford: “Misquoting Jesus: Scribes Who Altered Scriptures, and People Who May Never Know.”
When I made my final departure from Christianity, and religion all together, I realized that I didn’t know who the hell I was. “Me” didn’t exist anymore. I have not been able to articulate that feeling, yet, and every time I try, I cry.
I had to pretty much start from scratch. Reinvent myself while working on atrophying (pruning) neural networks created by religious programming. (See some of the methods used in church to put you in a suggestive state)
What a huge feat that was for me. My previous passions and interests didn’t surface for a long time, and some were not able to be revived. I had to deprogram myself, and I did it alone because no one in my life understood what I was going through, and to try to explain it to them seemed to threaten their own faith.
No one in my community, nor any family members had gone through what I’d gone through. A deconversion.
No one understood.
Today, almost a decade later, I am still dealing with the repercussions of leaving the faith — but —
It’s good to be alive.