Religion stunted my spiritual and human growth. Now what?

Gin2

My involvement in Christianity stunted my spiritual and human growth.

It stunted my spiritual growth by leading down a path of falsehoods, which included the false premises of separation from God, and my inherent badness. It falsely taught me that Heaven is the big payoff for people who have correct theology. I also learned that in exchange for my obedience God would “bless me,” which meant more favorable life circumstances. I believed that Jesus taught these things, and I taught them myself as a pastor with a Master of Divinity degree. I can’t really blame anyone but myself. I was complicit in these falsehoods by not doing my own due diligence and not thinking for myself.

My Christianity also shaped how I viewed the world, which didn’t make me a very good human either. If the world is doomed and escaping it to Heaven when we die is the point (which my theology taught me), what motivation is there to really care about the future of the world? If we can divide up humankind into “us: and “them,” we can scapegoat the “them” and wash our hands of the hardships and suffering of our world. My Christianity taught me that the world was too far gone to be transformed by love, and that there was nothing I could do to change this. Instead, God would sort it all out in the end.

I am an underdeveloped human being largely because of my involvement in Christianity. My theology taught me to split up the world into the categories of “sacred” and secular.” The “sacred” category included the Bible, church, worship, a list of sanctioned Christian activities, spiritual disciplines, approved Christian books, etc. “Secular” was just about every shred of knowledge that couldn’t be gained by doing  the aforementioned.

Through my own exploration and the deconstruction of my  Christianity, I discovered that all the falsehoods and mentalities mentioned above had nothing to do with the life and teaching of Jesus. Suddenly, Jesus was no longer someone I “should be like,” but someone I actually wanted to be like. I authored four books that tell that story, and the process I underwent to be free.

It’s never too late. I feel like I’m only entering the zenith of my life now. Hey, this free and independent thinking stuff is awesome, and is taking me down all kinds of paths I never imagined I’d be on. Don’t settle. Don’t get too absorbed or stuck in your anger toward religion. Move on. Living and being the truth is always going to be a threat to the system. I’m not saying to be silent –  we should confront any system (religious, political or cultural) that is separating people from God, themselves, others, the world, and life. But be the alternative. Like Jesus, let your life reveal a different way. Don’t just be against something. Be FOR something. Be a freethinker, explore, push deeper, press further, educate yourself, question, apply critical thinking, be conscious of the ideologies, narratives, views and mentalities that govern your life and this world.

On a side-note, we added a new member to our family. We adopted a greyhound dog (see above picture). Her name is Gin. Greyhound Pets of America in Nashville goes to the racing tracks and gets retired racers. After a period of “fostering” these greyhounds, they are put up for adoption. Gin was an esteemed and successful racer, with many 1st place finishes. However, she injured herself and could not perform as she had before. In many cases, dogs like this are put down at the tracks. These are the dogs that Greyhound Pets of America get to put up for adoption. We love Gin, and are so happy to have her!

Latest Comments

  1. Troy Mantel says:

    Wonderful, Jim. And I love Gin. I’m going through a similar Christianity-deconstruction phase as well. I totally get you! I’m so happy you’re out there. –Troy (a FB friend/follower)

  2. Barbara Jensen says:

    Great article… thank you for these words!
    May Gin bring as much joy and love into your life as I`m sure you`ll bring to hers! It`s such a wonderful thing to rescue an animal

  3. Kelly says:

    Left religion over a year and half ago. No longer angry just in a place of numbness. Right now no passion for anything and that is ok. We spent most of the last 17 years giving up the things we really enjoyed because they were secular. I grew up in organized religion and felt pretty free in my beliefs and likes, then we went non-demon and it was like our whole world was suddenly divided in two. Us or them, which we never heard in the Organized church, and everything we truly enjoyed had to be given up as well as hanging with people who did not believe the way we did. Many things and more was suddenly ripped out from under us. We even had one pastor come into our home and tell us what we could keep and what had to go. And if we did not listen to them we were unteachable and had an authority issue or some spirit was on us. It was like someone had died for months after that. Then we got into a routine of every Sunday, Sunday night and Wednesdays and after 17 years of that it seemed as if life was just sucked out of us. I would not wish that on anyone. We made the break in Oct of 2012 and have been rediscovering ourselves, God, and who Jesus really is to us and in us. We are now ok to just be who we were created to be. I believe a lot of stripping away is taking place and that soon old passions will be re-birthed. Notes from Over the Edge has been a great comfort in the last few months. Thank you.

  4. Kaitlin says:

    I was nearly moved to tears reading this – thank you so much for putting this out there. I really relate and am going through a “religious unlearning” process myself now. You say that because of your past beliefs/way of life, you are now an “underdeveloped human being” – I have to say that from reading this, it certainly doesn’t sound like you are! 🙂 Don’t be hard on yourself, as human beings, we are all in the continuous, never-ending process of “developing” (though, I’ve found, just as you have, that mindless commitment to religion really stunts this process). Blessings to you!!

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