I’ve been back and forth about this post for some time. But it’s something I want to cover before going further in discussing the long-term trauma of abuse because I’m going to say A LOT of things against the church in general.
First, I want to make sure you read the title correctly. I am not going to explain why I’m not an atheist, I’m going to ponder why I’m not, because, for all intents and purposes, I ought to be. Most people who’ve been through what I’ve been through are. So, why am I not?
I honestly can’t say. My brother is. He is hard core, he hates all Christians, and one can hardly blame him. I should hate them all as well. My parents claim to be Christian but were severely abusive. My father is a twisted pervert on top of that, exposing his children to porn, asking us to give him detailed descriptions of our sexual experiences, then dragging us to church. My mother is an angry, manipulative, (possibly) pathological liar. My earliest memory of her is her breaking a toy on my head. Then she dragged us to church.
And, then, there are the pastors. My pastor in high school who taught that even if the man shot you (seriously, I asked) you were not entitled to divorce him to protect yourself and your children. Then there were the pastors who taught that God hates you, that you are just so lucky he condescended to save you . That He is not concerned about anything going on in your life, only in the advancement of his kingdom. There were a myriad of pastors who said that the reason bad things happen is because you are evil and God is punishing you (that’s what my parents and paternal grandparents taught as well, no my parents didn’t see the hypocrisy). The pastors who taught that my parents beat me because I needed it. The elders who told my abused friend that God had created her for suffering so she had to put up with her abusive husband. And who can forget the pastor and elders who took fear mongering to new heights and told me that my sons were going to be gay because they danced ballet?
Of course, there are also the Christian teachers who are made famous by books and radio shows. They taught that all divorce was two sided. That there was no innocent party in divorce. And never pray for your spouse to change because that is prideful, if you want change you have to change yourself because you’re as bad as them. The teachers that told women that if they would just be more submissive to their husbands, their marriages would be better. The real problem in marriage today is lack of submission on the part of the wife. Some even claimed that this was the reason men get angry and hit their wives.
Then, of course, the run-of-the-mill, “average” Christian in the pew who pretty much just enforced all that, justified the behavior of the abusers, and defended them all the while telling me (and others like me) that standing up to abuse is a sin for which we will be ostracized.
To be honest, I’ve barely scratched the surface. I could write a twenty-plus chapter book on this subject.
And I haven’t even mentioned Zelena’s perversions and abuse here.
All things being equal, I should be like everyone else who has gone through similar situations. I should be an Atheist. What is there to believe in? It’s pretty obvious from my story that Christianity is bunk, that Christians are not simply hypocrites, but evil, cruel, nasty people who like to have power over others and they wield that power it like a weapon.
But I’m not an Atheist.
I honestly can’t tell you. I have absolutely no idea.
I was considering this as I drove down to pick up Farmer Boy from work the other day. I had United in the CD player and the song Relentless began.
There is something relentless about God. He pursues us, ALL of us, regardless. He doesn’t stop. Some of us are pretty good at shutting Him out, maybe because of what we’ve suffered at the hands of people claiming to be Christians, maybe because we don’t want Him interfering in our plans, I don’t know the exact reason for each person.
Of course, there are those who have never even heard of the person who is reaching for them. Often because His people are too busy in their own pursuits to be bothered with drawing close to Him so they are ready and willing to go out and share Him with the world around them, or the world far away from them.
I should have shut Him out. I should have said that it would be better if I pursue my own interests because following Christ has got me nothing. But that isn’t the entire truth. The truth is, following what all these false prophets said about Christ got me nothing. The God they presented to me was a god of their own making. The God of Scripture is not what they claimed.
I still have no idea why I heard, why I answered, when others who have been just as hurt by the church do not. I only know one thing for certain, God is true, and every man is a liar.