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!