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Gods and Devils

By Cestlavie ~

I am thrilled to have stumbled upon this website! I've been looking for a community like this, and it is wonderful to read all of your stories.

So, here is mine...

My mother converted to Christianity when I was a baby. My father had returned from his army tour in Okinawa and they moved far away from her very large family. Things changed in their relationship and she was alone much of the time. She found a Southern Baptist church and a new extended family to fill the void. Consequently, the church was our second home and we were there whenever the doors were open.

I remember getting "saved" when I was about 12. It was Easter Sunday and the preacher gave a heart-rending sermon about what horrible sinners we were and how God sacrificed his son, Jesus for our sins, and what a horrible, painful death it was and it was all my fault for being such a miserable sinner. I cried with the horror and shame of it and ran to the front of the church begging forgiveness. I was no stranger to shame, having been molested at the age of 6. And I'm certain that a large part of the guilt and shame I felt growing up had more to do with the despicable act of an adult, but I perceived it to be my own failing as a human and spent my teenage years cowered in guilt and shame for all the normal feelings and reactions of a maturing young woman.

At the age of 17 I had enough, and when I left for college, I also left the church for good with the realization that a God of love would not give us the ability to feel the things we felt and then condemn us simply for feeling them! That is simplifying it a bit, but that's basically what I thought. Thus began my lifelong journey to sort out the brainwashing of my youth from the truth. I can tell you that I am still involved in that process; the training was insidious and turns up when I least expect it. One of the biggest things I deal with today is the concept of punishment. Having been through two bouts of breast cancer, I'm sure I don't have to tell you that there is still a part of my brain that thinks a god somewhere, whom I have forsaken, is punishing me. And that everything bad that has happened in my life is punishment for being such a wild child of the 70's. I know my mother believes it is!

The whole idea of god fascinates me, I have to admit. As I see it, God is a concept that we have developed to explain the mysteries of life (that science can't yet explain), to symbolize all that is "good" and just and fair, and whatever else we personally need a god to symbolize. Satan is also a concept that explains all that is "evil" and unfair in the world. Just as Santa Claus is very real to young children, so are God and the Devil. But somehow, unlike Santa and the Tooth Fairy, humans remain children when it comes to the concept of gods. They are very real beings to most believers. (This would be considered a mental health problem by most psychiatrists.)

Somewhere along the way, humans took the concept literally and their god evolved into a self reflection, for lack of imagination I suppose. He became jealous, judgmental, angry, vengeful (in fact, a lot of the things that Satan was supposed to symbolize). What we have is a very real and
dangerous god embodied by thousands of believers who need a real life devil to hate. This is the god that has swept across the world, destroying countless lives in his name, time after time. It is not a benign belief system that does no harm, and in this sense god is horribly, frighteningly real. I can no longer sit back and say nothing. Their god has become my devil.