The god of abuse

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The thesis of this article has often crossed my mind and so I was happy to find this post at exChristian.net. I think Fuego is right on with the analysis he presents. Several conclusions flow from his argument. First off, people who have been trapped in religion and had their reason attenuated or destroyed deserve our understanding even as they infuriate us with their stubborn obtuse blindness. How do psychologists treat people with Stockholm syndrome? What works, what does not. If we are going to make a difference with people who are effected, need we all become clinical psychologists? There has to be a more modest approach than that, so we should be looking at the literature and developing guidelines for approaching our friends and family members. Simply trying to reason with them clearly does not work. Following up on this I searched for some advice and will publish a separate post that seems to have some sage advice.

By Fuego

I’ve been trying to figure out why it is so difficult to get believers to even listen to why we left Christianity. Even though some of us experienced decades of solid Christian belief, we are dismissed as having never believed, or never “truly” believed. No matter what evidence we bring, no matter if we are aggressive or kind, there always seems to be an invisible wall of condescending resistance to any criticism or evidence against Christianity.

This may not be a new concept to some of you, but it all fell together for me today. The pattern so clearly fits with another relationship pattern among humans that it startled me. Christianity is a form of abuser/victim codependency.

I know the word codependent seems way overused, but hear me out. Codependency is the perpetuation of an abusive relationship by two or more people, each of whom derives enough emotional support from the relationship that it outweighs the strife. In fact the strife itself fuels the emotional intensity of the relationship. Sure there are good times of singing, music, friends, and even an intense feeling of God’s presence. This is what kept us coming back and enduring the abusive side of the religion.

“Alas! and did my Savior bleed
And did my Sovereign die?
Would He devote that sacred head
For such a worm as I?”

Right away, I anticipate that believers reading this will say “Abuse? What abuse? My God is the Shepherd of my soul, the Lily of the Valley, the bright Morning Star. He doesn’t abuse me. He may discipline me, but he does that because he loves me.” Many of us felt the same way, and clung to God just as fervently as any believers do today. The abuse I speak of is sometimes physical, often verbal, and always mental/emotional.

Just like in a human-to-human relationship, a believer invests trust, time, money, and emotion into the faith until the religion itself defines normality, and that person becomes quite unwilling to believe anything negative about the religion. The abuse may come through fellow believers or authorities in the religion, as well as in self-abuse over by guilt imposed by the religion. But ultimately the abuse comes from the God of the Bible. The believer is conditioned to think that the abuse is deserved due to his or her inherent sinfulness. Some go so far as to mutilate their own flesh because their natural desires conflict with the religious ideal and therefore must be subjugated to prove loyalty to God. Jesus himself said, “If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.” (Matt 5:29)

But even if the believer becomes desperate enough to want to quit the relationship, the circle of codependency is sealed by the fear of what will happen if the believer leaves the “relationship” (damnation).

To read the remainder of this article go to exchristian.net:

http://exchristian.net/exchristian/2009/07/god-of-abuse.html

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About Richard Collins

Researcher/writer/activist
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