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3/30/2007                                                                                       View Comments

Christ & me: an abusive relationship

By Never Going Back

Looking back on my sixteen year "relationship" with Christ, hindsight has lent me the wisdom to discern that it was truly an abusive one.

I have an intimate knowledge of domestic violence. I experienced it growing up and as an adult woman in unhealthy relationships. My counselor defined domestic violence as controlling another person through the use of fear and manipulation. If that is the case, then I think it's safe to say that my "loving Heavenly Father" beat the shit out me!

For sixteen years I lived in morbid fear of this place called Hell, where he would promptly send me for any infraction. I was constantly confused by the scriptures that seemed to insult me one minute and build me up the next. For sixteen years I heard Him tell me that my righteousness was as filthy rags and that without Him, I was nothing. For sixteen years, I was told that nearly all my desires were sinful, all my thoughts and feelings were wrong, and all my plans- fruitless. For sixteen years, I was the ant living under the magnifying glass of God. I lived in constant mental anguish over my "sins" and over fear of Hell. I lived in constant fear of this "loving God's" fearful wrath.

My last abusive relationship with a man was a terribly traumatic one. Somehow, he was able to reduce me to a mere shell of the woman I had been when I had met him. I was ever aware of the tone of voice I used, the words I used, the volume of my voice, etc. I was not allowed to have my own opinions, thoughts or dreams. I was not permitted to confront HIS issues at all. I was not allowed to show any reaction or emotion other than pleasure. I could not have a bad day. I could not be angry with him for his misdeeds, and should he ever say he was sorry, I better forgive him OR ELSE. I was constantly threatened with neglect, abandonment and abuse. I walked the line in every way. I allowed this man to treat me inhumanly, because I had been taught from an early age and especially as a Christian, to be submissive, to not ask questions, to not trust my own instints, and to look to someone else to define my self-worth.

The more I looked at this god, the more I gave real consideration to his personality, the more I realized how similar his human attributes really were. I didn't leave religion because of the abuse, because like most victims, I didn't realize that I was abused. It was always my fault, of course. There was always some hidden sin I was unaware of, and if I was doing well in towing the line, then I had to be careful not to give myself any credit for my righteous living, because afterall, the glory went to God. No, I didn't know I was a victim; I truly believed that the problem was within me.

It took me a long time to leave, but I finally did it, and as my name so vehemently professes: I am NEVER GOING BACK. So many people are in this same abusive relationship with their "god", and I look on with pity, wishing them the same freedom that I have now. You really just don't see it when you're in it. As a Christian, as in all abusive relationships, you are reduced until you either die or run for your life.

In the Shawshank Redemption, Tim Robbin's character, Andy Dufrane, comments that he has two choices: to get busy living or get busy dying. One day, I realized that I was faced with those same two choices, and I chose life. Ironic that Christianity promises life more abundantly isn't it? It nearly sapped me of mine.

I wish that I could say the voice of madness is gone, but I hear it resonate now and then in my head, seeking to remind me that I am nothing, that I am unworthy, that I am wrong for having left, that it will be better this time if I just come back... That is the haunting legacy of abuse. It helps to know that I am not alone in my suffering and that many of you have felt the same angry blows of religion and often for much longer periods of time.

Anyway, thank you all for entertaining my rant. It has been therapuetic.

25 comments:

gimmeadrinkawater said...

Dear Never Going Back,
You are brave, and eloquent, and welcome to the site. I wonder how many women above all are abused because of their acceptance of Christianity. And by the way, I really resonate with your description of how you were to blame, it was never the abuser, so you couldn't see the abuse. This is so well described. This also makes me wonder how many christians have this degree of abuse by god, or how many only experience a milder form of it. On this site we usually see those who were so traumatized by this religion that they end up here.

Naomi

Telmi said...

Never Going Back,

You have found a new wisdom and now you have a new life ahead of you. You will find friends here in this club, friends who might have undergone an experience similar to yours.

Think of yourself as in good company.

jim earl said...

Long time no see, never going back. Once again, your words just flow off the page and help us that need the support. Thanks for that. Hope all is well with you and yours, your friend, Jim Earl

Anonymous said...

Dear Never Going Back:

Welcome to our motley group of ex-Christians. I hope life for you improves from here on in. Your story is very moving and shows that you really have great courage to have endured so much. There's a Dar Williams song you might enjoy called "Better Days." Not eternal life but better times ahead I hope. In relation to your description of the parallels between your experience of God as an abuser and the abusers you met in your relationships, there is a book you might enjoy: Father Leo Booth's When God Becomes a Drug: Religious Addiction and Religious Abuse. In any case, enjoy the feeling of being out of it all and best of luck to you in the better days ahead.

Spirula said...

Never Going Back,

I think you have done a good job explaining what we all found out. The true power of Christianity isn't love. The true power of Christianity isn't hope. The true power of Christianity isn't faith. The true power of Christianity is fear, guilt and self-doubt. And the greatest of these is fear.

alanh said...

NGB

Great post. In spite of all the accumulated knowledge we now have about mental health, Christianity is still tying to drag us back 2,000 years and make us worship an abusive father figure. On a related (and comical) note, the Pope is trying to keep up the pressure by announcing that "hell" really is an inferno where "sinners" are tortured for eternity.

Anonymous said...

old testament is passed

Jesus Loves us
he died we live

the world is going to die

its going to explode in hate
it will destroy itself
muslims jews christians real and fake
men that think they know it all
but someday
god will set up his kingdom
where there will be no rich and poor
there will be no abuse
there will be no sorry or pain
or sickness

I wait for that

I raised four children alone in poverty for 12 years
and the so called christians to this day dont help
they judge
but jesus doesnt judge HE LOVES
HE GIVES

love god love your neighbour
do unto others as you would have them do unto you
thats true christianity

and I dont care what person comes to my door
if they are hungry I will feed them
if they are thirsty i will give them drink
robert

Anonymous said...

"love god love your neighbour
do unto others as you would have them do unto you
thats true christianity"

How about; "Love yourself and love others, treat them the way you wish to be treated, that's true humanity"

dano said...

Never Going Back
The integrity, that you paid for, with so much blood, sweat, and tears, has taken you out of the clutches, of the most powerful mind stealing cult ever devised.

I know, without a doubt, whatever created us, considers you to be a "KEEPER"
Dan

SpaceMonk said...

NGB, it's something like Stockholme Syndrome.
Glad you're (we're) out of it.

Epicurienne said...

Thanks for posting that, NGB. I, too, lived through an abusive relationship with a man. And I, too, have noticed the parallels between abusive relationships and the relationship between Christianity and the individual Christian.

Christian women especially are vulnerable to this because after all, as "daughters of Eve" we're all somehow to blame for everything bad that ever happened. Well, f--- that up the a-- with a splintery flagpole! I, too, am NEVER going back.

xrayman said...

Hi NGB from your biggest fan !!!!! It looks as though a few folks think you are a new kid here. To all those who have never read NGB's stuff, she's a gifted writer who's been around here for a while. Great composition as always. I remember seeing a preist on Larry King Live who stated that a woman should ride out a marriage no matter how abusive the husband, because after all Christ suffered on the cross for her. What he suffered for a fucking weekend? I really think his suffering is way over rated.

eel_shepherd said...

nvrgoingbk wrote:
"...That is the haunting legacy of abuse..."

A very chilling line.
nvrgoingbk, when I re-started posting here, after a year or two layoff, I had some trouble registering, because my email address at the time looked so much like a spam address that I wound up changing it; it was going straight into my correspondents' junkmail folder. But I persisted, because there were certain people I wanted to be on the same messageboard with, (it wouldn't take much imagination to guess who some of them are, and I won't embarrass any more of them here by naming them) and I gave their usernames as examples in one of my emails to the WM when I was trying to sort out my registration difficulties. Yours was one of them. We're all better off here for your not having given up the struggle to reach the higher ground.

For the "anonymous/robert" poster:
"...do unto others as you would have them do unto you
thats true christianity..."
No, that's common, garden variety innate decency before Xtianity poisons it off. But it would seem from your comment that you're aware that the best Xtianity is the least Xtianity. Well, you can't get much more "least" Xtianity than this place, can you? Why not do yourself a favour and abandon all the rest of the mumbo jumbo, and just keep the stuff that you've known all along, right from your atheistic birth, was worth keeping? The Golden Rule can be observed amongst bacteria, for pete sake.

Lance said...

Great Post NGB. Thanks!

It made me think about my experience as a man and how I was repeatedly told that I was not being the head of my family correctly, and how I needed to be a stronger leader, and how my wife needed me to show the way, etc. etc. etc.

What bullshit! My wife doesn't need me to tell her what to do. She can function just fine without me lording anything over her. We work better as a team of equals.

I'm just lucky I don't have an abusive personality, because if I did, this kind of encouragement could have pushed me into becoming like one of the jerks you were involved with. And I can see that happen in the church because of this.

It is funny that the guys that were encouraging me to the spiritual leader in my family, now try to undercut me as I slowly lead my family toward the truth.

Thanks again for your rant.

xrayman said...

My wife grew up with a strict(sometimes abusive) Catholic father who was the totalitarian head of the household. The wife and all three children did what he said, no questions asked. Now she has turned things completely around and is the head of our household. Go figure.

Thurisaz said...

love god love your neighbour
do unto others as you would have them do unto you
thats true christianity


Now try telling that to Never Going Back. What loving deity would ever let one of its "loved children" suffer like that?

Typical morontheist babble. In postings like hers, with your three (at most) active brain cells you only realize "someone's feeling sad", and off you go babble about your jebus. Never mind that if your jebus existed it would be personally responsible for all the misery she describes above.

Sheesh. And you wonder why everyone with an IQ above 50 calls you morons.

Joe said...

Too well documented to require rehashing the evidence here: abused children tend to become abusers. NGB's post brings up one of the good reasons for moving from a live and let live relationship with theists to more active opposition.

In short, there is no Jesus and no god. The abusers are flesh and blood cult leaders building on the legacy of long dead philosophers. They are protected from prosecution by cultural and legal sanction. That shit's got to stop.

Congratulations on breaking the abuse cycle in your own limited sphere, NGB.

Farris said...

NGB,
Good for you, it sounds like you have it figured out. Congrats!

Anonymous,
The Golden Rule should be "Don't do anything to others that they don't want done to them."

Let's say I like to be pissed on by strangers and we use your rule;
"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."
I would get into a lot of fist fights.

Lynn said...

Dear NGB, thanks so much sweetie!! I grew up in a home where both god and dad were abusers, they had quite a racket going. And poor mom came from a Calvinist fundamentalist background, what did she know? BTW, Calvin's advice to battered women? You guessed it, stick it out, God has decided the guy gets to take your teeth out and break your bones regularly. So they both passed it all on to 4 kids, three of whom have dealt (more or less) with the abusive weirdness and come out of it with some humanity. It has taken a LOOOOONG time for me. What a tragic waste of time and life this whole belief system is. What needless torture is perpetrated, particularly on women. And children. They are the ones who cry at night listening to their good christian dad beat up the only mother they have ever known. With a god like this, no wonder christians turn out to be such violent child abusing criminals.

Anonymous said...

Good for you, NGB,
you may go back.. its just part of the deprogramming process. you will never ever see the church as you once did. you ate the apple. there is no going back to what it was once before.

keeping plugged into the "non-belief" community. study and knowledge will make the resounding conscious echo in your head go away.

you will heal. took about 2 years of exploration for me to deprogram.

and man do i feel good!

Best of luck to you, NGB.

Lorena said...

Wow, NGB, what an awesome post!

Try submitting it to a magazine.

David Wisniewski said...

Please consider my comments, and do not delete them, as that will make you as "foolish and closed-minded" as the Christians you all criticize, such as myself.
To NGB, I must say that your story is one that truly pulls at the strings of my heart. I, a male, was raised in a loving home where mistreatment of women was not tolerated. I was, in fact, taught that the only time that I should hurt a man who was not attacking me was if he was attacking a woman. Keep in mind, that I was the only son, with two older sisters.
So, you can imagine, I do not take kindly to men who abuse women. You can ask my female roommate (a good friend, and nothing more, for those who wish to jump up and yell "hypocrite." I've got plenty of OTHER reasons to call me a hypocrite, give me a chance). The last man who lived with her was very abusive, and she was very much in fear of her life when she asked me to move in. She is a 5'0" Portuguese woman, and I am a 6'1" muscular Irish-heritage man, and moving in to protect her (and subsequentially chase off, for the last time we have seen him, her ex boyfriend, using a large sword and a battle axe) seemed like the right (sometimes quoted as "Christian") thing to do.
As one who was given the choice of religions, and not just forced into Christianity, I must tell you my view on things, if only to quell my own conscious (which one of your readers congratulates you on avoiding).
A parent does not threaten their child that if the child does not listen to the parent, the child will be thrown into the middle of the freeway (at least, not a parent that our society allows to rule). Much in the same way, the most important thing about Christianity is to realize that God does not threaten anyone with eternal damnation. As a parent warns a child about the dangers of the world, so God warns us and offers to protect us from the danger of Hell. But, as we have free will, if we willingly choose not to accept his protection, he will not force it upon us. That is when, according to the Bible, we go to Hell. This is not meant to be a relationship of fear, and those who pervert it to be as such have surely rejected Gods protection, and will burn in the Hell that they threaten to those who do not submit to their will. This is meant to be a relationship of love and protection.

To the peanut gallery:

Xrayman:
I agree with you that the priest on LKL had the intelligence of a turnip. However, if you believe that Jesus' suffering was not great, you will have my myspace page link at the end of this post. Give me your physical address, and then further give me your permission and blessing, as Christ did, and I will administer the pain that he went through, but only for one hour. Then you may decide if you think that the pain of being nailed onto wood and hung from your wounds, which spectators spray with vinegar, is overrated.

And "nvrgoingbk", whether you are the same person that wrote this article or not: you call for someone else to keep what they have to say ("mumbo-jumbo") to themselves. Is this not the closed-mindedness that you would accuse all Christians of?

Thurisaz:
"Sheesh. And you wonder why everyone with an IQ above 50 calls you morons."
It is interesting that you choose to attack the intelligence of those you disagree with. As you all probably know, intelligence denotes humanity, thus you are making those you disagree with out to be less than human. Every culture that ever committed, or tried to commit, genocide, has done the same thing.
Incidentally, I have an IQ of 184. How about you?

--Not so Anonymous
David James Wisniewski
Atwater, CA
www.myspace.com/dw1012

boomSLANG said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
boomSLANG said...

David James Wisniewski: Please consider my comments, and do not delete them, as that will make you as "foolish and closed-minded" as the Christians you all criticize, such as myself

Mr. Wisniewski,

As asked, I have considered your comments as open-mindedly as my integrity will allow, however, and I hope you'll forgive me, but I see no credible evidence that supports your Christian beliefs in such a way that remotely resembles them being objective truth..i.e.. "truth" beyond your own opinion.

Furthermore, your "child/parent" analogy fails to illustrate what I think you had intended, which, if I understand correctly, it was to show that the Christian "Heaven or Hell" motif is a clear-cut "choice", and that "God"(the "parent") isn't forcing his "creation"(the "child") into compliance, and that "Hell" is not a "threat".

In your analogy, you said:

A parent does not threaten their child that if the child does not listen to the parent, the child will be thrown into the middle of the freeway

No, nor do they track them down with a flame-thrower and incinerate them. Of course, this only makes the point that, if a "supreme parent" existed..i.e.."biblegod", that humans are smarter, less violent, more diplomatic, more reasonable, more compassionate, more loving, and more tolerant than said hypothetical "god". And if so, then that would make your biblegod a horrible candidate for my "worship"(if "He" existed).

You continue: Much in the same way[of the analogy], the most important thing about Christianity is to realize that God does not threaten anyone with eternal damnation. As a parent warns a child about the dangers of the world, so God warns us and offers to protect us from the danger of Hell.

Firstly, to the best of my knowledge, there are currently no debates going on right now as to the existence of "parents". Moreover, if our parents "warn us of danger", we might be skeptical of their motives, but we certainly aren't skeptical of their existence. In other words, to build trust, and for an authority figure's opinion to carry weight, you must first KNOW they exist.

Moreover, these "dangers" that parents warn us of?...they aren't something that they can prevent in the first place---"parents" are not "omnipotent". If biblegod is presumably the ultimate "creator" of all; if he is "omnipotent, then he could've simply NOT created "Hell", and/or, not allow it to exist. In other words, biblegod is responsible for the very problem he seeks to have solved. 'Not my problem(if "He" existed).

Again, as I've said, you've presented nothing in the way of evidence for your particular belief. You've produced a "child/parent" analogy(which fails), and to the best of my knowledge, you base the rest of your opinion on the following:

...according to the bible...

If you'd take less time being offended, and more time actually reading the posts/testimonies, you'd see that the bible carries no weight with ex-christians. NONE. Similar to how a "Budweiser" add would carry no weight to a someone in AA, or similar to how the "Holy Qur'an" carries no weight to the Christian.

On the other hand, since you believe that the bible is the Divinely inspired be-all/end-all authority; and since you know it's verses inside and out(I presume), I don't suppose I need to provide the verse that describes/prescribes how to handle the child who won't heed their parent's warnings of the "dangers of the world", right?

You continue: But, as we have free will, if we willingly choose not to accept his["God's"] protection, he will not force it upon us. This is not meant to be a relationship of fear, and those who pervert it to be as such have surely rejected Gods protection, and will burn in the Hell that they threaten to those who do not submit to their will. This is meant to be a relationship of love and protection.

So, said hypothetical relationship isn't built on fear, yet, we hear so many Christians saying that they are God-fearing Christians. Well?... what are they afraid of, then, if it isn't "Hell"?

Again, biblegod creates the very "dilemma" he seeks to have solved, and then set's himself up as the "solution". It's a clear-cut case of manipulation--not a "choice". A "choice" is "do you want cheese on that?"

If I could illustrate with my own analogy, it's like me bashing your kneecap in with a baseball bat(creating you less than desirable from the get-go), offering you a ride to the hospital("heaven"), and if you reject my assistance("love"), I then proceed to bash your other kneecap in, and leave you there("hell"). Nice.

Anonymous said...

Dear NGB,

My heart goes out to you -- a victim of spiritual abuse. I have personally heard the stories of many like you who have been ravaged in many ways, one being Bible passages taken out of context and misapplied -- a brutal weapon that results in mind control.

Healing is available, and a number of resources can help:
*The Heresy of Mind Control, a book that I myself have recently written and posted right on the Internet for easy access, especially to start a healing process for those like you. The book is free with simply a button to click if you would like to make a donation. In your case, I suggest that you start the reading in chapter 3 (17 pages), then chapter 4 (16 pages), then the rest of the book. The website address is www.recognizeheresy.com
*Mending the Soul, a book by Steven R. Tracy
*The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse, a book by David Johnson & Jeff VanVonderen
*Twisted Scriptures, a book by Mary Alice Chrnalogar
*Wellspring Retreat & Resource Center, a treatment center where I have worked, specializing in helping those who have been victims of spiritual abuse and abusive relationships. Website: www.wellspringretreat.org

Wishing you release from pain,
Steve