I stopped saying my prayers a while ago.
Rather, I stopped believing that I should believe in them anymore. This could be just another early-twenties phase, who knows.
This may be the longest break I’ve ever taken from the church in my life, I haven’t been in over a year, purposely, with the last time being at Joel Olsteen’s Lakewood mega-church in Houston.
I can attribute many things to my upbringing in the church. I wouldn’t be who I am today if it wasn’t for that and I am thankful for that. But quite frankly, it had never been my choice until now. Most of us did not have that decision to chose Christianity, it was just a thing that has been instilled and practiced since birth. This would be the most effective method to create a devoted follower, by planting the seed during the naive years of youth, when ones thoughts mirrors that of their parents. I was baptized at around 11 months old, obviously without much say on my part. This goes to say that yes, after 21 years, I finally have my own perspective and views on religion and religious practices.
What about other religions outside of Christianity?
One of the main things that has led to my waning beliefs in the church, is that their are hundreds of other religions, and billions of other people that believe in them. There are more people that know nothing about the teachings of the bible than those that do. Are they wrong, because they don’t adhere to or acknowledge the beliefs that I was brought up with? How ignorant and arrogant of me would it be to even think that. Historically speaking, this idea of ‘religious superiority’ has been the case for many Christian believers. Nations have been conquered and destroyed on the basis of Christianity, as has been the case with many other religions. The teachings of Jesus and his followers have been well documented and kept for thousands of years, and people have vehemently followed them. Sometimes using the teachings and understanding of the bible as a means to claim superiority. But what makes the bible any more “right” than the Quran, the Torah, the Vedas, or the Animistic views of some of the Native Americans? Why have we claimed others ignorance in favor of our own superiority?
Yes, I believe that the bible is an excellent moral compass on how to lead one’s life, and it does a great job of that, as it has done in mine. But I also believe that is not unflawed. The writers of the bible were human, just like me and were simply conveying a story from their own perspective. To me, this means that to have a differing opinion on its interpretation, or to disagree with the concept in general, should be okay. The moral teachings of the bible are relatable to all, but to believe them all and take them quite literally is almost ridiculous to me at this stage of my life. I believe that some of the writers engaged in extreme hyperbole, as many great writers have, to further instill the message to an audience that just wasn’t as informed about the world as we are today. I’ve always said to myself that if the bible was written and distributed in the 1900s rather than a thousand years ago, people certainly wouldn’t accept and believe the extreme levels of hyperbole, but be more astounded by it’s moral teachings. I understand why it was hard for conquering ‘missionaries’ to assimilate the indigenous people by spreading the teachings of the bible, just because it’s simply too unbelievable to be believed by anyone outside of a person that was brought up to believe just that.
Another issue I have with the Bible and Christianity in general, is the unbelievable expectations to uphold a life without sin. It’s unnatural, as humans we make mistakes, we feel different ways about different things, because simply put: we are all different. I understand that the bible states that God loves all and will forgive the sins of anyone who repents to him, but this statement is all too paradoxical to me. We are taught by the bible that no sin outweighs the other and that almost all sins can be forgiven, but what happens after we ask for forgiveness, repent, and sin again? It’s an unavoidable circumstance. Does God not love us all after we sin? Is this why most of us are condemned to ‘hell’? Am I going to hell for thinking this? It’s as if Christianity and the bible were constructed to be used as a scare tactic.
I also believe that religions (in my case Christianity), are used to provide protections to our mental state of fear, of the uncertainty of death. This is valid reason and a particularly appealing one, as to why many follow the teachings of the church, for fear of the uncertainty in after life, if there is an after life. We are all afraid to die, but this is one thing in life that we cannot avoid. I know personally that I don’t want to die and just end forever, but my mind has been pondering on wether or not that is just a silly thought to think otherwise. No one alive has experienced being dead or ever intimately interacted with a dead person to answer this question of uncertainty, and this could go for either side of the argument.
None of this is to say that I don’t believe in a God, but rather it’s to say that I’m done with accepting the ignorance that has become the church to me, basking in the belief of unspoken “christianity superiority”, rather than the equality and acceptance of all people under a God and practice that none of us can deem to be the right nor wrong one. I’ve reached the point where I can no longer allow myself to support the church or any religion that uses it’s answer to the fear of death, as the basis for their being right about seemingly everything.
I may very well be wrong to you, but who are you to tell me that? God?
By Keith Haynie, Editor in Chief