The Language of Religion


Probably the most shocking realization over the past several months as I’ve questioned is the similarity between the language of religion and the language of abuse. They are, no longer surprising to me, the same.

When you study abusers and their manipulations it comes down to “love me or else.” But the path to “love me, or else,” is just as significant and no less terrifying than those words.

The abuser uses many ways to convince you it’s all your fault. They say “I wouldn’t get so angry if you (insert whatever excuse they have).” Or they intentionally do things that they know will hurt you. My ex loved to find out what I liked just so he could either destroy it or do the exact opposite or make sure I didn’t attain it. But we still must love the abuser. That is a must. In fact, when we leave the abuser, we are told to forgive for our benefit and to love so we don’t become like them. Both these things tie us emotionally to the abuser so that our recovery is hindered and we can’t move on…exactly what the abuser wants.

In scripture we are essentially told that we must obey god, or else. If we don’t obey, bad things will happen. He will, at the very least, send us to hell.But while on earth we will suffer for our disbelief. We will be sick, or our kids will be killed. We will lose our jobs, we will go hungry, we will suffer at the hands of our enemies.

Nowadays, a lot of liberal Christians have done away with this teaching and have simply opted to say “well, we don’t know why these bad things happen but you have to love god anyway.” They might not put the “or else” at the end, but we all know it’s there. Their “or else” is something along the line of not having internal peace.

It’s all the same.

When we are indoctrinated from our youth that god can do whatever he wants to us and we still have to love him because he loves us, it sets us up from the beginning to be receptive to abuse.

God loves us so he sends us suffering so that we might grow in faith in him.

That is the basic line from both conservative and liberal Christian sources when asked.

So, god loves us and causes us to suffer so we might love him more?

I believe that’s called Stockholm Syndrome if I remember my psychology at all. And it is the perfect set up for people to believe it’s OK if they are abused.

Sarabeth Chaplin recently related her experience with the girl’s magazine Brio, published by Focus on the Family.

Christian sources like Brio will emphasize purity and modesty as a girl’s most valuable assets. So what happens if a girl experiences date rape? The messages in Brio tell her that her purity is compromised, and therefore no one will want her. Or worse: it will implicitly blame her for not dressing modestly enough to prevent her Christian brothers from “stumbling.”

Those internalized messages enabled me to stay in a relationship with a guy who repeatedly assaulted me in high school. A guy who, on multiple occasions, blamed my clothes for making him unable to control himself around me.

This is not a woman who grew up in Christian culture, but the teaching affected her none the less. It is that serious and that damaging.

Christians across the spectrum claim that “God is love” but do we really understand what love is?

According to the famous 1 Corinthians passage “god” strikes out.

Love is patient: He claims he’s patient but if the end result is the slaughter of entire villages who refuse to worship him (with, btw, no missionaries to teach them or even try to lead them to god) one has to wonder.

Love is kind: We call it kind when he “disciplines” us through, oh, death, dismemberment, war, hunger. We only call it kind because scripture tells us to. If we murdered someone, or cut off someone’s arm, or let our children go hungry, I think people could safely say that we were in no way kind.

Love is not jealous: Let’s just go straight to scripture for god’s “own word” on this matter. “…I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me…”

Love does not boast: If you’ve read scripture you have to admit that “god” does a hella lot of boasting about all the goodness he (supposedly) does.

I could go on, and maybe one day I will, but I think four strikes is a good starting point for people who are interested in actual inquiry to start looking into this further.

Why is that the so-called love passage does not apply to god? He gets a free pass?

Or is it as a recent commenter on my Facebook said, “God saves us from our sins and that’s the most important thing.”

So god saves us from our sins, that means the rest of our actual needs are relatively unimportant. He saves us from our sins but causes us to die from cancer, he saves us from our sins but allows our children to be raped, he saves us from our sins but allows millions to stare to death.

And as Christians we MUST call this love…or else.

How is this not abusive?


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