Friday, March 27, 2015

Facebook Faith #49: You Are A Sinner

Recently on Facebook, a Christian was trying to explain to me that, without Christ, I was going to end up in Hell.  She told me that I am a sinner and deserved such treatment from God.

I explained that since I do not believe in Hell or God, I had no such worries.  I also told her that I do not think of myself as a sinner.  She replied with a common witnessing maneuver:
"So have you ever stole anything?? Have you told a lie ?? If yes, what does that make you?? "

I told her that makes me a person who has made a mistake, and a mistake does not a person make. I may have a student who has told a lie, but I would be wrong to therefore cast them forever in my mind as liar. That would simply be damaging. In any case, why would we choose to frame someone according to their mistakes rather than their goodness? Someone fed the poor today, what does that make them? They encouraged someone who was down, what does that make them?

Fortunately, I don't even think Christians who use this argument actually feel that way about their fellow humans. They meet nice kind people, and they recognize them as nice kind people - they don't tend to think '"Hmmmm... at some time in their past, they must have lied... so this kind, niceness must really be a facade!" No, even Christians have the ability to recognize great people regardless of their foibles.

But here is one of the problems with much of Christianity. Their belief system wants to cast every human being in a bad light. In order for the world to NEED Jesus, it has to be full of sin and darkness.  So Christians bend toward seeing humanity and the Earth that way. Christians frame a mistake as a life sentence to place others in need of what they have.

It reminds me of a missionary named Daniel Everett. He worked with an Amazon tribe that had had nearly no outside contact. He found them to be a happy contended people. He realized his job was to convince this happy contented culture that they were actually bad and corrupt.... so he could then offer them Jesus to save them.

Having left the faith, I now see it as creating a lot of co-dependency. Faith needs to keep people weak and needy, and I hear it in the rhetoric of believers every day. Their memes on Facebook declare their unworthiness, powerlessness, and corruption - but thankfully they have God to empower and forgive them. They have been taught to define themselves according to their weaknesses and failures, and they pass those teachings on to others.

I used to think of myself as a sinner, I thought of how often I let God down. I thought wrong behavior was my defining characteristic. However, I discovered it was all contrived. Once out of the faith, I realized... I never "sin". It is massively infrequent that I cause pain or harm to another human being.... in fact, most of my day is spent giving good turns and encouragement to everyone around me.... yet I spent decades believing there was something inherently wrong with me.

No more... my chains are broken and I have run free.


Anonymous said...

As someone who has depression/anxiety, Christianity was absolutely terrible for my mental health. When I shed that toxic mindset of thinking of myself as I wretched sinner, it went a long way to allowing me to get the perspective I needed, not to mention treatment, to manage my condition to obtain a better quality of life. I couldn't possibly go back.

Andrew said...

So glad for you anon! It pains me to hear Christians berating themselves. It is often the case that believers avoid needed mental health offerings, because they have been told they just need to do religious thing X more.

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