The Hurtful Church of Jesus-less Christians

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I love John Pavlovitz’ blog.   He’s a Christian pastor, but the kind that’s tragically rare in America: a pastor who actually believes in the compassionate, loving Jesus of the Sermon on the Mount, a Jesus whose table included all types of people and always had room for one more.   This Jesus isn’t the Jesus of the prosperity gospel, dominionist, and right wing evangelical churches,  whose preachers seem to completely ignore the inclusive, loving Jesus in favor of their abusive and constantly angry God who gaslights his flock, holds them to endless harsh rules, constantly threatens Hell and punishment, shames and silences women and tells them they must tolerate abuse from their husbands and pastors (because as women, they must be doing something wrong to deserve the abuse of their “betters”), makes excuses as to why keeping children in cages and separating families is “godly,”  and tells poor people their poverty is due to their own moral failings and that if they were pleasing to God, they’d be rich.

Their God is forever changing the goalposts and is impossible to please.   Moreover, their God has “anointed” certain chosen people as “prophets” or “apostles,” people we are to obey without question and never criticize just because their God has elevated them above the rest of us (that’s where the “Trump is anointed by God” rhetoric comes from).    Their religion, so unlike the real Christ, is merely a cover for greed, hatred, exclusion, and fascism, and is used by sociopaths and narcissists as a means to control people.

They have created a God in their own image: their God is a sociopath or least a pathological narcissist, and good, decent people with a conscience and empathy want nothing to do with him.    But in America, unfortunately he is the loudest and most visible God.   The term Christianity itself is acquiring a bad name lately (this trend has increased since Trump was elected) because good people are associating it with authoritarianism, hatred, condemnation, elitism, American exceptionalism, misogyny, white male privilege, and harsh punishment.  No wonder so many good people are turning to atheism or non-Christian religions instead.

I too am finding the term Christianity offputting lately.  When someone tells me they’re a Christian, I automatically become wary and distance myself, assuming they follow the authoritarian, far right God that’s so prevalent in America today.    Theirs is a predatory, heartless religion that behaves more like a cult than a proper religion, and hurts millions more than it helps (mainly enriching its wealthy pastors and billionaire donors).

John Pavlovitz speaks for the rest of us, Christians and non-Christians alike, who reject the authoritarian American God, but who wish to emulate the Jesus of the Gospels.  Such Christians, to circumvent the recent negative connotations associated with “Christian,” have been calling themselves Christ Followers.   I kind of like that!

Here is another insightful and important article from John Pavlovitz’ “Stuff That Needs to Be Said” blog.

The Hurtful Church of Jesus-less Christians 

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I used to be a dominionist without even knowing it.

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I’ve written about dominionist Christianity extensively, so I won’t describe it at length here.  One of the most toxic and abusive doctrines of dominionism is that if you are vulnerable in any way — if you are poor, sick, disabled, mentally ill, or even a person of color (in dominionist doctrine, people of color are believed to be derived from the line of Ham, the son of Cain, who was Adam and Eve’s “bad” son — in the past this has been used as “biblical” justification of slavery) — these are all indications of God’s disfavor and people “afflicted” with these things deserve their lot.   In contrast, God’s favored people are always rewarded with great wealth, perfect health, and no disabilities.  They are also usually white and Republican.  This is why dominionist Christians feel no obligation to show compassion toward the sick, poor and disabled (as Christ would do) — because to help them would be to go against God’s will.   It’s also why they seem to think unlimited power and greed (and oppression of others) is perfectly moral.

But getting back to myself.  While I was never a dominionist Christian or even a conservative evangelical, my attitude in the past toward myself was a very negative, self punishing one.   I always had at least a nominal faith in God, but I truly believed he disliked me and my terrible luck, my bad relationships, my inability to form close relationships, my emotionally abusive family, and my poverty were all punishments God was inflicting on me because he hated me.    I looked at others and saw how fortunate they were (or at least seemed to be) and felt like God must like them much better.  Sometimes I thought God only put me on earth as an example to others of what not to be.

This made me feel completely worthless and made me want to hide in shame from the world.   It made me painfully shy, which only exacerbated my problems meeting people and socializing.    In my recovery from narcissistic abuse, I realized this negative, self defeating narrative was self inflicted due to internalizing abuse inflicted on me when I was young.   I began to realize that I had good qualities and never had the chance to develop them.

I like myself now.  No, I’m not living my “dream life” (that would involve traveling all over the world and writing bestselling books) and I will probably never have a high powered, high paying career at my age.  I probably won’t ever achieve all my dreams, but really, who does?   I’m still on the lower end of the income scale, but I wouldn’t say I’m impoverished anymore.   I have enough money to be comfortable and even buy a few luxuries (like occasional inexpensive vacations, beach trips, new books, the occasional dinner out, and nice clothing).

I’m still alone (not in a relationship), and even though sometimes that’s lonely and I even occasionally feel sorry for myself, I also know I prefer things that way for now.  I’m still working on myself, trying to find out more about me and what God wants for me (and what I want for myself).

I feel fortunate to have two wonderful adult children, both of whom I have a great relationship with, and three awesome cats.   I also live in a beautiful part of the country, with endless opportunities for photo taking and just enjoying the natural world.  Not everyone is so fortunate to have that.

Recovery from narcissistic abuse coupled with reframing God as a benevolent and loving Father who wants all his children to be happy and healthy rather than as a punishing and hateful bully who favors some of his children over others (and rewards them primarily with wealth and material abundance) has made all the difference.

I think this is why I find Christian dominionism so triggering and scary.  Not just because it’s become a real threat to our basic freedoms and rights, but because it’s a toxic, abusive, and hateful belief in an avenging, constantly angry, narcissistic God who likes to bully and punish the most vulnerable.  That sort of God, to me, is as bad as the devil.   I think that God was made in his narcissistic control freak human makers’ own image.

I’m so glad I don’t believe in that God anymore.

 

5 Ways Christian Patriarchy Harms Men

One of my favorite Christian bloggers talks about the ways patriarchal Christianity actually harms men.

Please comment under the original post.

Jesus Without Baggage

It is easy to understand how Christian patriarchy harms women, but it might not be so clear how patriarchy harms men. Patriarchy is a religious belief in which women must submit to their husbands, who are heads of their homes, earn the money, and make all the decisions—while their wives support and submit to them. In effect the husband is boss.

Patriarchy believes God created men and women with rigid gender roles and that the Bible describes those specific roles (see arguments against patriarchy in the links at the bottom of this page).

Patriarchy puts men in charge at home and church. Men are empowered while women are disempowered. So, with such privilege, how can patriarchy HARM MEN? There are at least 5 ways, and I am sure there are more. During this series, a number of both men and women readers addressed this issue. Some of their anonymous contributions…

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Religion is Gaslighting

Here is a slight rebuttal to my post of the other day, but also some excellent points are made here and I don’t disagree — particularly her comment about the commandment “Honor Thy Mother and Father.” Some parents simply do not deserve to be honored, at least not in the way we normally think of honoring them. It would be doing a disservice to ourselves AND our parents to continue to enable toxic ones. No Contact may be the best way to “honor” such a parent. I don’t agree with everything here, but much of it I do.

Please leave comments under the original post.

CLUSTER B

fascismA dear friend of mine, Lucky Otter, has a blog post criticizing Christian Dominionism called Christian Dominionism has taken over the GOP. I appreciate 99% of what she has written but there is one statement that I not only disagree with, it has inspired this blog post.

Now, the old Testament has much to recommend it, and of course the Ten Commandments are just plain old common sense. Personally, I have no objection to the Commandments being displayed in courthouses or “In God We Trust” being printed on the dollar bill, because these things don’t necessarily favor only Christians and they’re simply good advice for anyone. They don’t repress, oppress, or marginalize anyone. They don’t hurt people or the environment. They don’t undermine the Constitution or our freedoms. People who object to these things really ought to turn their minds to more important issues that actually affect their lives.

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