Monday, April 14, 2014


I was raised in a conventional Christian home.  My parents were god fearing people that took me to church every time the doors were open.  I learned much from my upbringing in the Assembly of God church.  I learned to enjoy socializing and music.  I learned to budget my money (due to tithing).  I learned to read, study, and memorize literature (through bible study).  I learned about celebration and being a part of something bigger than myself.

The lessons learned were not all positive, however.  In my time as a church member, I witnessed much hypocrisy.  I saw people excommunicated from the church for their sins.  I saw wealthy ministers asking the poor in their congregation to give what little they had to "please the lord".  I saw hurting people accused of sinfulness because of illness or poverty.

I became the accused when I chose to start attending a denomination that differed in its belief system.  I saw that there was no "unity in Christ".  There was only divisiveness and cruel accusations that I would burn in hell for denying god.

You read that correctly.  I was told that I would go to hell for attending a Baptist church.  Apparently Baptists commit the only unforgivable sin by not speaking in tongues.  For those of you not fluent in Pentecostal speak, speaking in tongues (a made up language) is supposedly the proof that you are filled with god's holy spirit.  Therefor all other denominations are hell bound.

Thinking it was just a matter of a difference in theology, I still attended and married in the Baptist church (where I was told that it's the Pentecostal church that's going to hell, by the way) but soon found that they were equally flawed in their teachings.  When I was a junior in high school, I admitted to a Sunday school teacher that I was very attracted to my boyfriend (my now husband) and that physical intimacy seemed appealing.  She advised me to break up with my boyfriend immediately and avoid sexual temptation at all costs if I wanted to remain in god's favor.  So now I'm hell bound because I'm in love?

Thankfully, I ignored that advice.  I stayed with and married that same boyfriend.  He is the most wonderful man on the planet.  I cannot imagine what my life would have been like if I had ended our relationship.

I came under christian scrutiny once again when I became ill.  You can read about my struggles with illness in my post A LIFE ALMOST TAKEN.  I soon found that the only thing worse than having your life torn apart by sickness, is being told that it's your fault you are sick because you are not "following god's path".

For starters, if I wasn't following god's path then I sure as hell don't know who was.  I was obsessed with being a good christian.  I was constantly trying to be better and do better.  My whole life revolved around learning what I was supposed to do as a follower of Christ and then doing it to the letter.

Secondly, if you are truly familiar with the Bible's teachings, then you know that they can be very unkind. As taught,  I condemned homosexuality, adultery, pride, fornication, blasphemy, and greed, but I did it at the expense of compassion and empathy.

 I gave my god and my religion everything.  It didn't change anything.  I was not "healed of my afflictions" as I was told I would be if I only believed.  There were no miracles for me.  What saved me was medical Science.

For years I struggled with my growing doubts about god.  The more I looked for the answers to my questions, the more convinced I became that there was no god.  After intensely grieving the loss of my religion, it started to dawn on me...

I was not to blame for any of the bad things that had happened to me.  I was not a bad and sinful person.  There was no greater good that I was suffering for.  All my conflict was stemming from setting all my hopes on something that just wasn't real.

I can't begin to explain the relief that  I felt at letting it go.  Letting go of all my old, unchallenged beliefs.  Letting go of the shame I had always felt for not being good enough.  Letting go of all the expectations and rules.  Most of all, letting go of the judgment.

I no longer had to judge my actions and the actions of others by what my religion decreed.  I WAS FREE.

I am ashamed of many of  the beliefs I once held.  I now know that there is no right or wrong way to love or to be.  No sexual identification is better than another.  No behavior is inherently good or bad.  No feeling or emotion should be chastised.

The only rule I have left is one of kindness.  As people, we should help each other because we know what it feels like to need help.  We should respect each other because we are all worthy of respect.  We should judge no one because we are imperfect.  We should always be open minded and willing to learn because there is so much more insight to be found!

  It's time for me to start imparting what I've learned to Harrison.  I will  tell him about what I know, what I'm still learning, and what I may never understand.  I will teach him to seek his own answers and his own way in the world.  I will teach him to decide what he does and does not believe for himself.

Most importantly, I will teach him TO LOVE.

Are you raising your children with or without religion?  Tell me about your journey.  Please keep all comments civil.

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