Bible Thumper or Bible Basher... Is there really a difference?
When my eyes suddenly opened and I realized just how messed up the church and Christian doctrine is, for a while I felt a lot of anger and frustration. I was very tempted to cut off everyone in my life who posted Christian stuff on Facebook or dared to talk to me about it. I started to think and say things like:
"Christians are so illogical."
"Christians are stupid!"
"Why are they all so foolish? Can't they see that what they believe makes no sense?"
"I hate fundamentalists!"I was letting anger and frustration claim a foothold in my life.
But my wonderful husband pointed out that I was just exchanging one form of bondage for another. I had been freed from religion, but I was still holding on to my arrogance and judgmental attitude. I was right, they were wrong. They were stupid, I was smart. I was suddenly closed to their side, just as I had once been closed to the idea of living without religion.
That isn't progress... it is just switching sides without truly addressing the root of the problem. Both religious people and atheists can be very arrogant, I saw this both before I de-converted and after. I have seen people on both sides say awful, close-minded things, judging each other based on their title and not on their individual character. Often neither side is truly willing to hear the other side's view.
Is that progress? Is that growth? Are we truly better off?
I would humbly suggest that if we are to grow, we must be careful to not use the same mindsets that we had as Christians. It's not "them and us"; we're not somehow worth more than they are, we are not better than them just because we have "seen the light" and they haven't. We're all humans sharing the same planet, we're all searching for truth. If we cannot show them how to live in harmony, who will?
I have heard this said more than once: "You don't need morals to be religious, and you don't need to be religious to have morals." Being an atheist does not automatically make us better than a Christian, and being a Christian does not make them better than an atheist. Whether we are good or bad is dependent on our character and actions, not the name we associate ourselves with.
In my time as a Christian, not everything was bad. Sure, the doctrine is wacked and many things are illogical; but I grew up with Christian parents who genuinely loved people and accepted everyone regardless of their beliefs or actions. They were not perfect, but they were the picture of people with true morals- they just happened to attribute those morals to Christianity.
I learned a few things as a Christian that still apply to my life outside of Christianity- things that do not require religion to be true. I don't know exactly where all these teachings came from, but they were taught a lot in my circles growing up and I think they are important to remember.
- Anger allows the other person/group to control you.
- It takes more strength and courage to relinquish anger than it does to let it fester.
- Anger is like a disease that hurts the body when we let is fester. Medical science has shown this to be accurate; it heightens our stress levels, which we all know is not healthy.
- Forgiveness isn't about condoning what the other person has done- it's about letting go of the anger. Forgiveness is more about our own well being than the other person's; it's about setting our hearts free from anger and bitterness.
I'm not saying we shouldn't respectfully point out errors in their beliefs, or hide what we feel or who we are. My point is that the attitude behind what we do is absolutely vital, and can mean the difference between a genuinely enlightening conversation and a pointless debate. If your motive is to show off how right you are, then you are no better than a Christian who is doing the same thing.
If you say what you believe, but with an attitude of respect and understanding, it can have a completely different result. No one has ever changed their views because of someone who calls them names or their ideas stupid. It only causes an even deeper rift.
Here is my challenge to you, and to myself as I continue on my own journey: Let's make sure that we are not falling into the trap of bitterness, judgment, and arrogance, otherwise our de-conversions don't mean much. If we live our lives with love and understanding and strive to not hurt anyone in word or deed, our "title" doesn't matter- our lives will show that our way is better. :)
I wish you all well in your journeys, and thanks for reading my long musing. :)
Filed Under: Opinion