8/10/2007                                                                                       View Comments

Loving Without God

By Bill J

I've come to realize that loving someone without God is incredibly freeing. I mean, as a Christian I was compelled to love people, even my enemies, but to truly love someone you have to be free to do it. Christianity is not about freedom because the ever present threat of hell looms near. It’s also a commandment. It’s not an option. How would you like to be commanded to love everyone? I command you to love every vile dictator and every person that has ever done you wrong. I command you to love the homeless mentally ill drug addict in your city. I command you to love the man that raped your love one. I command you to love the neighbor who lets his dog shit on your lawn. I command you to love your spouse who keeps cheating on you. I command you to love the guy/gal at work who bugs you. Is this really what Christians do?

I work in corrections, so I see a lot of people who have done bad things. I've learned that being professional and reasonable goes a lot farther when dealing with people then being rude and thoughtless. I've also learned that pretending to care does nothing for people. But life is messy and commandments like love your enemy and do good to those that persecute you seem misplaced when dealing with dictators, sex offenders or serial killers. I should think that the Bible should say, "Be fair-minded and just with those who are your enemies. Respond with reason and integrity toward those who persecute you." That makes far more sense than loving your enemies.

There is no room for killing your enemy in the New Testament. Many Christians go to war just as easily as the next person. I hardly find killing Iraqi soldiers forced to do Saddam's bidding as loving. I hardly see collateral damage as loving. I hardly see using force to stop terrorism as loving. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes force is the right thing to do, but Christianity does not really allow for this kind of thing. Christians are told to turn the other cheek. They are under a new commandment to love. They are no longer allowed to take an eye for an eye. The Quakers seem to understand this part of the Bible.

Some Christians do their best to love people, but how do we know if it's because they really love you? Are they doing it to please God? Do they feel pressured by the Bible to love you? The last thing I'd want in a relationship is someone loving me because they have to, not because they want to. Now consider the person who loves people because they truly love people? They love their spouse because; guess what, they really love them. It's not because they are commanded to love them as Christ loves the church. In my opinion, any person who truly loves someone without the need of religion, the fear of hell fire or having to be commanded by Jesus is truly special, and I have far more respect for that person then the greatest Christian who ever lived.

Here's another thing to think about. If you are not redeemed by Jesus, no matter how loving you are, you will rot in hell for all eternity with the worst of them. It's sad to think that Christianity is pretty clear on this matter. As for me, I continue to work at loving people because it makes sense, it's rational; it makes people feel special and reminds me how important life is. I don't do it because a book tells me I have to. If I don't love people, then I honestly don't love them. I treat them fair, but I don't pretend. I don't put on a smile and act like they are special. It seems to me that loving means being real and honest with people. I'd rather spend my energy really loving those in my family I care about and those who treat me with equality then falsely love everyone around me because some error laden book tells me that some guy, from two thousand years ago, who claimed to be God, commands me to love everyone.

Sincerely,

Bill J.

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15 comments:

Brock said...

"What I tell you is this: Love your enemies and pray for your persecutors... if you love only those who love you, what reward can you expect?" Matt. 5: 44-47

I kept thinking about this verse in connection with the proliferation of "God bless America" bumperstickers after 9/11. If Christians really practiced what they preached, shouldn't we have seen a bumper crop (Sorry) of "God bless Osama" stickers?

Bill said...

Good point!

Lorena said...

" I mean, as a Christian I was compelled to love people, even my enemies, but to truly love someone you have to be free to do it."

Yes, very destructive way of thinking. It causes mental illness and cancer. Christianity teaches people to suppress their feelings, to deny their emotions, and to pretend that they love everybody.

According to several books I've read, most recently When the Body Says No, the body still feels the pain and it manifests in illnesses such as cancer and colitis.

I think it would be nice if we could love unconditionally and forgive everyone. But it isn't always possible.

Also, many experts say that if you allow yourself to be bitter and angry for a while, the anger wears off and, then, you are able to forgive.

Many Christians, in the name of love, skip the anger step and just pretend that they have forgiven, but they really haven't. Then they become either hypocrites or physically or mentally ill.

Christianity is a damaging belief system, no matter how you look at it.

Robert W. said...

Lorena,

I've found that some of the most inspirational and illuminating books come from atheists. Whilst I'm not an atheist per se (I prefer the term skeptic), I've come to agree with many of their positions.

Two books that I recommend are Dawkins's "God Delusion" and "The Philosophy of Humanisn" by Corliss Lamont. I also found the humanism of no less a man than Confucius and his peers to be helpful; Confucius recognized the controlling power of heaven (which seem to me to be impersonal moral and natural law rather than a Supreme Being), but he always grounded his teachings in the interactions of human and human society.

Any belief system that recognizes an object of religious devotion also has to recognize the nobility of man; the Abrahamic religions say this (man is the “image of God” and such), but none of them follow it- all three religions reduce man to a serf before the sky-god.

A just society can function without God, but the people need to be educated as to what is proper and improper- thus the insistence that so many moralists place upon constant self-training. Christianity teaches the opposite, a lazy acceptance of faith.

Lorena said...

Hey Robert,

I was just wondering what it was that I wrote that prompted your response to me.

Maybe if you tell me, I will be able to put into context your message to me!

Thanks.

Robert W. said...

Lorena,

Nothing per se, but your mentioning of Christian "love" stirred my mind up a bit. The idea of a Christian society that is built upon unconditional loving is laughable to me because the Christians themselves cherrypick who they want to love; even Jesus wasn't so loving, calling non-Jews "dogs" (like the Canaanite woman at the well) and holding up people of the lowest type as exemplars of humanity.

Caleb said...

I like how you use the terminolgy, "free to love." Since becoming an atheist, the coolest thing to me has been being free to love those that my Christian faith wouldn't allow me to before. I can love homosexuals now. I can love liberals now (maybe I am one now). I can love people that are Christians and non-Christians just the same. I can love people that bash Bush (I do that now too). It is amazing how freeing your mind from the crutch of Christianity can leave you so free and open to accept new ideas that I never would before!

Lorena said...

Robert,

I see. Thank you for responding.
Yeah, the "Christian" love is a real conundrum of contradictions.

George Davis said...

Great post, Bill. You gave me some things to think about. I always thought the command to love our wife as Christ loves the church scary: does that mean I let her suffer without intervening to alleviate the suffering when I had the power to do so? Only a sadist would agree. I deal with people all day. Many of them are nasty and disrespectful. They live in filthy homes and have depressing lifestyles. Believe me, my christianity never gave me any more "love" for these people than I have now without it. At least now I'm not fooling myself.

stronger now said...

I'm sure some fundie nut is getting ready to post on this thred. And he/she is going to say something about how we don't really understand what xtian love means or that we didn't really have christs in our hearts because if we did we really COULD love our enemies.

To love as christ means self sacrifice. It is doing and feeling not just feeling. You give up your needs and desires and do what christ would do(and supposedly did) for your fellow human. It all sounds so nice exept sometimes it gets confusing. Like how much of yourself do you give to others. Do you sacrifice your self respect to satisfy someone elses needs? Do you sacrifice one relationship to satisfy another? Is your sanity too big a sacrifice to make to be able to do what jebus told you to do in scripture? Are we to let ourselves be taken advantage of in order to serve god? If we are expected to lay our lives down for our faith then why not any one aspect of our lives?

Money, yes.(tithes)
Comfort, yes.(see above)
Family, yes.(According to scripture, Luke 14:26, we are supposed to hate family to serve christ. Odd isn't it?)
These are all to be given up and not worried over if one is to serve jebus.
But what about mental health? If we are to hate even our own life in order to serve christ then why not give up on sanity?

So in serving christ we are to love even our enemies but hate our family. Or is it love everyone? No no it's love some hate others but backward of what makes common sense. Or am I supposed to sacrifice myself to my wife and hate her at the same time to show her the love of christ? How is that done?

To love as christ is to be insane.

AtheistToothFairy said...

Stronger now said...

"Family, yes.(According to scripture, Luke 14:26, we are supposed to hate family to serve christ. Odd isn't it?)"
----
Mr. Stronger,

In my Christian days of long long ago, I have to admit that I was unaware of such bible passages, where we not only give up friends and family, but are actually told to "HATE" them.
This fun-fact is one I only became aware of in recent times.

At first I couldn't believe such a god command would have been given, but then I recalled something I read about the "end times" and brother turning-in-brother, a son turning in his father and such.
i.e. to the authorities, because they weren't believers

I'm sure someone here knows the passage I'm speaking of and can site it here; please?

I'm sure most older readers greatly recall when the Moonie Sect was making headline news a 'few' decades ago. There were even TV specials done about families hiring deprogrammers to find their children and 'kidnap' them back from this cult, then spend weeks deprogramming their minds back to 'normal'.

As was typical of many such sects, a believer was brainwashed using various methods, but one thing that always stuck out in my mind was how they preached one had to give up their families (not to mention ALL their money!).

More than just this, they were taught they were part of the elite now and their former friends and family members belonged to the devil's brood etc.
Some of these sect believers were so brainwashed into thinking their family members were now the enemy of their new god, that they surely would have betrayed them in a heartbeat.
In this case, the expression 'blood is thicker than water', meant nothing to such individuals.

Stronger, I'm willing to bet that the passage you site here, is the very passage these cults used to justify hating one's family?

If you think about how some devious humans play mind-games with each other, then this hate tactic makes perfect sense.
To be sure that your latest converted member isn't influenced by their former friends and family and possibly land up rejecting these new teachings, one great way to accomplish this is by making them HATE their former friends and family. This way, you have shut-down a huge part of any outside influences that might make them "snap-out-of-it".

So is it any wonder that the writers of this new testament biblical philosophy, would preach such a tactic to their followers in order to keep them in the mental prison of Christiandom.


AtheistToothFairy

stronger now said...

ATF, I think you'd win money on that bet.

"This way, you have shut-down a huge part of any outside influences that might make them "snap-out-of-it"."

The xtian cult uses that technique(sp?) to keep those without a xtian family base, in the cult. But those who are in a cult alongside their family, well, it gets too difficult to honor your mother and hate her at the same time. So the cult relies on the bonds of the family to keep their members in check.

It's a double edged sword that the christians have to cherry-pick around in order for their members to be mentally castrated into conformity without getting cut on the backswing.

Lance said...

Hi Bill,

You said "The last thing I'd want in a relationship is someone loving me because they have to, not because they want to."

Have you ever read "Atlas Shrugged" by Ayn Rand? I'm not a follower of the whole objectivisim philosophy thing that she started, but that book had some great thoughts on this kind of thing.

It is a good read and gets your mind thinking on some of these issues. I read the book while still a christian, but it resonated with the same questions you are asking, and made me realize that the christian faith did not really fit with the reality of the human condition. Kind of important if you think about it.

Nvrgoingbk said...

I have said before that the term Christian love is an oxymoron. First of all, God claims to HATE in the Bible and is supposed to be an example to us. Yahweh shows favoritism throughout the Old Testament and the fact of the matter is, that he continues to show it until the very end of Revelation by sending to Hell anyone he considers an enemy of the faith (i.e. anyone who does not believe in Him or his Christ). It doesn't matter how morally upright you lived your life or how well you emulate the Christian model of behavior if you don't really believe in your heart and confess with your mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord.

So anyway, all this talk about loving your enemy and turning the other cheek and forgiving 70 x 7 obviously has a breaking point for good old Sky Dad, because at some point, he throws all those who prescribed to the wrong belief into an everlasting Hell where they are to be tortured FOREVER with no hope of parole. How the fuck is that loving your enemies?

Now, this is the belief that these loving Christians prescribe to, and this is the God they worship. Christians say, "I love you" with tongue in cheek. I am ever aware of just what their loving attitude towards me affords them, which is the right to judge that I am one day going to roast on the rack of Eternal pain for my horrible sin of apostasy. I know very well that their "love" consists of one day REJOICING in my suffering and my JUST punishment. I know very well that their "love" includes being absolutely convinced of my err in not believing in their Savior.

When a Christian tells me that they love me, I feel like the Grinch did when little Cindy Lou says, "Thank you" to him for saving her. Does anyone remember his reaction to that? Now THAT is exactly the reaction I have inside. It's like being given Chicken soup for a cold that's laced with Cyanide.

Bill said...

To Lance:

I'll have to read the book you recommended.

Thanks everyone for the comments.

Bill J.