When I was a Christian, I was in a permanent semi-paranoid state. The heathens, I’d been told, were always watching me, to see if I really was a faultless Christian.
My fellow Christians were always watching me for signs of backsliding, so they could straighten me out with “wise” words of timely, “loving,” advice.
God was always watching me; after all, that was his job: to keep me in a short leash, so he could protect me from danger and keep me accountable for my sins.
The devil and his angels were always watching me, hoping that I would leave the straight and narrow and I could be mercilessly attacked, since once fallen, God couldn’t protect me anymore.
Quite honestly I was going insane, because I had sincerely believed all that. When the psychologist told me that I was in an unhealthy, permanent state of stress, I didn’t believe him. He said that I had an on-going case of fight-or-flight response, in which my nervous system considered all outside stimuli an almost death threat. I, he said, was producing a high amount of cortisol that was depressing my immune system. That, he believed, was the reason for my multiple aches and pains.
I carefully considered the guy’s statements for a while. I started to watch myself. I noticed, for example, that when I was driving, my shoulders where always tense. I was normally worried about what the driver behind me thought of my driving. Also, when entering a room with strangers, I thought I was being closely scrutinized and judged.
I must admit that the way of thinking was instilled in me systematically by my undiagnosed insane mother. Christianity, however, didn’t help appease my affliction; on the contrary, it encouraged it. The paranoia I was taught as a child was magnified by the Christian belief system. A Christian would say, “Well, that is your problem, because I’ve been a Christian for xx years and I don’t have any of the problems you report.”
To that I would respond, “Sure, you don’t. You didn’t grow up in my house, did you?” I would also add that they didn’t go to any of the churches I attended or didn’t experience my life losses and my disappointments.
But I would have to assure the well-meaning Christian that his growing-up years were not trouble free; otherwise, why would he or she believe fairy tales of a god who says he loves us but will still send most of the world’s population to hell for not believing in his so-called son?
If I could, I would enlist the help of anthropologists, sociologists, and psychologists to help me answer that question. Since that isn’t possible, I will venture an observation of my own: many people who cling to Christianity come from homes were they were spanked, severely controlled, or otherwise abused. They were conditioned to obey and follow, making the structure of the church appealing to their submissive nature. I have observed that children who have controlling parents get used to being told what to do and become lazy at using their brain for even simple endeavours such as which flavour of ice cream to order. For these people, having a black-and-white, completely thought-out belief system like that of Christianity is handy. They really don’t want to think. They’re not used to it.
I know that was the case with me and with many Christians I know: we found our dysfunctional family of origin reproduced in the church, and that provided a high level of comfort and familiarity. Psychologists do say that children of dysfunctional families feel more comfortable in settings similar to that of their early memories. That’s why daughters of alcoholics end up marrying alcoholics.
Christians go to my blog to hassle me for writing against the Christian church—I should move on they say. Well, why wouldn’t I speak out against an institution which makes use of a person’s miserable life’s experiences to send him or her even deeper into emotional trauma?
Is it only me? Am I the only one who suffered emotional consequences from my involvement with Christianity? Am I just a bitter asshole trying to insult a “good” group of people? I think not. I think anybody who has studied history will realize that Christianity has always been on the side of the privileged, that while some good has been done in the name of Jesus—much more harm has been accomplished.
You, Christians, disagree with me? That’s too bad, because that’s my opinion and I am sticking to it.
Online Reading List
- An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish by Bertrand Russell (1943)
- Bible Teaching and Religious Practice by Mark Twain
- God is Imaginary
- Is there an Artificial God? by Douglas Adams (1998)
- Skeptics Annotated Bible
- The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine (1795)
- Which Way? by Robert Ingersoll (1884).
- Why I Am Not A Christian by Bertrand Russell (1927)