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By CatBallou ~

"If god wants you to get married, you’ll get married,” was Pastor Steve’s answer. I couldn’t admit it to myself at the time, but it was clear that Joao, with his doubts, got to Pastor Steve before me. By “God,” Pastor Steve meant “Joao.” Whatever decision Joao makes, he makes on behalf of god. Joao is a spineless fraud and does whatever the hell he feels like doing, but his decisions – and indecisions – are divine. I hate God.

Cat Ballou brought me some hope. I saw my own situation in that tragic comedic western from 1965. Trust in the authorities and public office. Expect people to be responsible while they in turn corrupt the innocent. Cat responds by seeking justice but gets revenge. Revenge. It’s something I see on the other side of a glass wall. It’s available, but I cannot quite grasp it. By including real names, I am striving for it. I no longer am compelled to leave vengeance to god. Cat Ballou offers some liberty from my prison.

I imagined my suicide several times, with my .38. But then I remember my commitment to only defend life with my revolver – never take life without a real threat. I also considered the pain I would have left my mother and brother in. My pain was crippling. If I ended my life, ALL of my pain would be transferred to my survivors. And since there were two principle survivors, I would be doubling the horrendous pain I was feeling and all of it would remain in the world.

I struggled through worship services for the next two years. It would be a horrific, painful experience of either singing praises that I knew were false, or not singing them but resenting both god and the congregation for still having that relationship - the relationship god had with me that was now annihilated. I finally stopped going to church last fall.

Joao claimed to accept responsibility for the failure of our relationship. The consequences have been steep. I say again, this has led to the loss of my faith in – even hatred of – god. I was dorming at college while Joao and I dated, but when I graduated, I wasn’t working full time yet. My only option was to stay with my unbelieving, fornicating aunt. My faith was degrading through this time but still present, and for a believer, living with an unbeliever was a terrible thing. Within six months, I stopped attending church. A few more months later, I deliberately flipped god the bird by having casual sex with my gym trainer. The bible says it’s “good” for a man not to marry, huh? Joao wants to accept responsibility, huh? Well, it was nearly 10 years since my ex-husband left me, two years after Joao sabotaged our relationship, and god couldn’t be bothered sending another godly man. Supposedly, god can do anything, so why couldn’t he provide the partner that he and his xians persisted in convincing me that I needed in my life?

There will never be anyone to replace Joao. He was one-of-a-kind. I prayed for a partner and Joao came into my life. He was everything I asked god for. Before I was “born-again,” I was somewhat promiscuous, had married, and divorced. I had been open to whatever relationships came my way. When I became a xian, I made specific requests of god so I would know this was it. I needed to have god’s approval. I did not want endure any more bad relationships or heartbreak.

Joao was very religious, Messianic, charitable, a deacon at his church, he cooked, he owned a quaint cabin near a lake, he sailed, he understood Navy humor (of which I am a veteran), he gave massages, he liked animals, he was wicked-smart, dressed well, and he had one sexy Spanish accent. I couldn’t ask for anything more. After HE courted ME for 2 years and we got engaged, he said that he could only agree to a sexless marriage. He was a Revelations chapters 7&14 xian: He needed to get to heaven as a virgin. There would be a “door prize.” He would get to stay on earth after the rapture to witness, become martyred, and sing special songs to god in heaven (even though he decided he hated music).

So god answered my prayer and sabotaged it in the same stroke. Through that, he destroyed my trust in him and our relationship. As a xian, I accepted god’s ideas of womanhood, relationships, and society – but god bailed out and failed me. My disappointment grew into resentment, which grew into hatred because the church could not adequately address my problem. I cannot reconcile that man coming into my life, after my prayers and pursuit of a xian family (touted as the foundation of our society), with a loving, providing god. The church can only say it was my choice or my fault. My church mother judged me to be in the wrong for expecting a marriage that she, and my other xian brothers and sisters, originally encouraged.

The Bible says it is good for a man not to marry. Joao sabotaged our relationship so he could get a special position in heaven. This is “good” in the Bible. Xianity advocates monogamy and female submission, and I had spent my monogamy ticket on Joao.

There are several ways to interpret “monogamy.” My xian ideology was influenced by several concepts. My indoctrination included disdain for serial monogamy, trial relationships, fornication, and adultery. If you didn’t make your date become your mate, then you were not practicing the love that Christ advocated. I also loved the Messianic movement, because a xian could not get more biblical than to practice First Century Palestinian religion in Second Millenium America. (I suppose you could say that would make even the other Fundies look liberal.) Joao and I followed the teaching that First Century Jews were married when they became engaged.

I was Joao’s only serious relationship. Looking back, I think his pursuit of biblical and Messianic xianity was of interest to him, and drew us together. But over the course of our relationship, he grew more and more aware of the changes that a married life would bring, and made the decision to keep his life the same. Xianity was a delusion that we both bought into, at a cost of significant devastation. Besides the loss of my faith, the extant of our physical relationship is likely to cost Joao his heavenly door prize for his virginity – presuming the existence of heaven.

I had been indoctrinated into Christianity to believe that God loves me, wants the best for me, I was god’s princess. I was also indoctrinated to believe that Christian men and women should not associate if they are not married. One thing can lead to another, and sexual immorality is the worst thing a person can do. But the married are required to give all the affection that their partner wants. God created men and women to procreate.

When I was 33, my doctor recommended starting a family before 35, citing increased risks threaten pregnancies after that age. I considered artificial insemination. For one thing, I wouldn’t be rushing any relationships. For another thing, it’s a sexless procedure. The Bible condemns sex outside of marriage but justifies any means for bearing children (Genesis 38:26). My ex-husband had intentionally withheld children from our marriage. I thought there would be some justice for that from God.

Christians told me it was wrong to use reproductive technology. I was advised to get married and that waiting until the age of 90 to have children was acceptable. After all, Abraham’s Sarah did. I didn’t see that God’s promise to provide children to Abraham applied to me, but if I was going to practice conservative xianity, then it was not up to me to make my own decisions. So I prayed and Joao came into my life. When our relationship ended, my church mother judged me to be wrong. Funny, my first pastor had me reconsider marriage and the church recommended it. I wasn’t doing what I wanted – so it should have been god’s will. It would have been fairly easy to reflect again on the misery of my first marriage and to justify reproductive technology. I could have a family without the stain of sex or the risk of heartbreak.

My first marriage was a terrible experience. I told Pastor Don that I didn’t want to get married again. He shut down my feelings on the matter and made an obedient, godly woman out of me: “That’s because you haven’t been with a Christian.”

Besides the bible, I cherished the book Letters from god by Melody Carlson, which was all about how much god loved and completely provided for women. If something was awry, then that was only because god knew what was best. But when things fell apart with Joao, I can only see that god does not deliver justice. My first husband walked away. I had repented of my transgressions when I found god. god taught me how to be the biblical woman that he intended for me to be. But he refuses to abide by his own plan. god created me to pair up with a xian man, support him emotionally, and be his glory. I changed my opinions and ideas for god, yet god did not deliver on his part of the bargain. god abuses those who love him. I trusted him and depended on him, but only got ashes, rocks, and snakes.

So this is the unraveling of my faith. There is no doubt the faithfulness that I used to have will be attacked by those still in the church. It just proves that the church is flawless and perfect in judgment. Eve was the transgressor, the adulteress must be stoned, and Joseph was righteous to divorce Mary. god is love, and my soul is annihilated.

There is no justice, and there is no love, because there is no god.