Please, Keep Your Fundamentalist “Love” To Yourself

It never ceases to amaze me that those who are supposed to be the most loving and sincere toward others, use the most mind altering and vicious tactics to keep you in line when you “stray from the fold.” They love you and only want what’s best for you they will tell you. uh-huh. I’ve spent the last 20 years in and out of church precisely because of this kind of “love.” Like many cults, fundamentalists do not like to be questioned, crossed, confronted, or reasoned with. They just want you to do exactly as they do, because they are “right” after all, the bible tells them so. Any deviation is grounds for their “correction” in “love.”

My husband and I first came across this phenomenon when we converted toTree of Life Catholicism from an ultra-fundamentalist church in another state. We studied, prayed, and studied some more to make sure we were making a good decision. Well, we thought the pastor of the Fundy church was going to have apoplexy when we told him we were leaving. He came over with an elder one day and called us traitors, questioned our salvation, pronounced us “outside the church” and accused us of every imaginable “sin.” I should have known better, because this same pastor whom I had gone to for counseling accused me of provoking my abusive step-monster, er.. excuse me….. hhhhmmm…. step-father. He said that I must have done something at the age of 15 to provoke that man to abuse me! For this pastor, who saw all women as the embodiment of sin, temptation, and evil, it was my fault that I was abused in my teens. Oh, he conceded that the abuse, which started when I was age 7 and continued into my teens, was not my fault up to a point, but then he made it perfectly clear that once I reached the age of 15 I was considered a provocable, sinful, WOMAN who had choices about my abuse. According to this man and other pastors I have the fun of knowing, my step-father, the deacon of his church and paragon of the community, was above reproach for the abuse after I was a teenager. Gag me with a stick! This little known counseling tool of fundamentalists is tantamount to placing the blame squarely on the victim. Counseling books for these men often warn them against counseling abused women because the women

I can hear the readers now, ‘Oh, she’s had a bad experience, that’s why she’s upset with the church. Not all pastors are like that.’ That’s true not all are like that. But I’ve only met ONE pastor in all my years of being a christian that wasn’t such a dumb-ass and he wasn’t a fundamentalist pastor. I made the mistake of going to another male pastor and his church after we’d moved back to our home state. Again, feeling the fear that fundamentalism instills, I thought I’d take another stab and changing me, since that is what all fundies teach. You are the problem. You need to come clean. You need to make nice. So I did and again was accused of not “getting past the abuse” and “being too intelligent” for faith. He was probably right on the second point. Again, I left, feeling betrayed.

Since then I have tried to leave and come back to the both the Catholic and the Protestant church many, many times because I was convinced that Christianity and this faith business wasn’t all that it claimed to be. I read excellent articles that explained exactly what I was going through and excellent books that showed me all the pitfalls of coming out of these mind-control situations. I understood them and knew where I was making the same mistake over and over again. I KNEW that I would fall many, many times, but I was totally unprepared for the tactics used by my “fellow” Christians when they find out about my struggle. I’ve had people tell me I haven’t prayed enough, read the bible enough, witnessed enough, or (you fill it in). I’ve had male pastors tell me that my not following the rules of bible reading, praying, worship attendance, bible study, lack of faith, reading too many other things besides the bible, etc. was preventing me from belief (they assumed I had no faith). Other Christians would attribute all my problems to being tainted by my past and tell me I was a man-hater (tell that one to my hubby 🙂 ) or that I was tainted by feminists who hate the created order and want to destroy society. They would tell me I’m going to hell, that I was backslidden, that God was chastising me, blah, blah, blah, BLAH!

Do you notice the insidiousness found in this type of thinking? The criticism is all aimed at you. No one EVER thinks that fundamentalism is what’s wrong with me or that fundamentalism and the whole Christian mind-set is harmful to the person. When things go right it’s all God’s doing, but when thing’s go wrong it’s all YOUR fault. You deserve it after all for being the sin-laden female worm that you are.

Well, I decided (and have many times since) that I wasn’t going to take the blame for any of that any more. No more apologizing for how I felt, thought, acted, looked, or for what I read. I am a grown up and can think for myself. I no longer have to answer to groups or people who claim to know the final truth of all things. Fundamentalism is all about staying in childhood and never maturing beyond the point of having a book, a pastor, or a group tell you what to do or think. If God’s any kind of God, S(he) would understand that. I’ve left and gone back and left and gone back and I still get the same treatment from Christians. There must be some point at which a should stop the self-abuse and just be free of it. This is why I don’t believe in missions. I was a much happier person in some respects BEFORE I became a Christian. When you have faith, you can imagine all your problems are solved. You can claim “victory” over addiction. When you have faith you can imagine all sorts of things without justifying them. You can believe the earth stopped rotating so that a few men could accomplish God’s business or that a man can be swallowed by giant fish and live to evangelize another day. Faith is easy because we can imagine the world the way we want it than the way it actually is. I think I’m done living in fantasy-land. So please, spare me the “correction” in “love” if you think I’m going “astray.” Been there, done that.

In closing, let me share a poem I came across from Juno’s Blog.

ORGANIZED RELIGION

I tried you on for size,
…attempted to squeeze myself
into your zippered reality…
but found that (to put it plainly)
my ass was TOO BIG.
And although I
squeezed, and forced
nipped, and tucked
tried to trim the excess
through daily denial,
I was much too massive
for your proportions.

I watched others wear you
with such ease
as you loosely enveloped
their being,
and I tried all the harder
to fit myself into your
carefully trimmed pattern.
You convinced me that my extras
–unnecessary and unhealthy—
were “fat.”
So I finally succeeded
(after destroying half of myself)
to wear you in public, and
for a time I was content…
even haughty of my
empty physique.

Yet eventually…
the deeper, richer, tastier
sustenance beckoned me,
and I began “cheating.”
A Morsel
of the metaphysical here,
A Bite
of Buddhism there.
A Sliver
of the scientological (in secret)
A Pint
of closet philosophy.
Soon my spirit began
expanding

outside of the outfit
you’d insisted
suited me so well.
I was embarrassed
by what you termed
my “weakness”
my “addiction”
and I tried to hide
my growth.
I even seriously considered
plastic surgery
to cut off my curves
and sew my open mind
shut.

Miraculously,
my blind eyes were opened
by a solitary physician
who admired my shapely
breasts and butt,
and pointed out the
beauty of awareness
over acceptance.
My roundness
doesn’t make me
a sinful slut…
it distinguishes me
from the herd.
It takes a good
shepherd
to recognize a prize,
just as it takes a good
carpenter
to appreciate an innovation.

Now I have shed
your confining garb
and streak skyward,
dancing in discovery
(naked as a banshee)
–every expansive inch
quivering
in rhythmic delight.

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