Made Precious

The situation described in the following letters continues to be entirely fictitious, including persons, names, crimes, sins, relationships, circumstances and all particulars. The kind of situation that is described, however, is all too common and my hope is that biblical principles applied to this fictitious scenario may be of some help to individuals tangled up in a real one.

Dear Gabrielle,

Thanks for the letter, and you raise an important point.

It is very easy for talk about forgiveness to be heard as exhortations to just “let it go.” And because letting it go seems like such an obvious impossibility, the only alternative seems to be hanging on to it. And that seems destructive in a different way.

Think of it this way. Because of the sin your father committed against you, your arms are extended wide and you are holding an armload of gunk. If you simply “let it go,” as some well-intentioned friends have encouraged you to do, that armload will fall. And now you are standing in it. But keeping all the gunk in your arms is not what you want either. In both instances, you are still stuck with all of it.

Fortunately, there is an alternative to holding it or standing in it. We are not capable of being our own saviors, and this is why it is necessary that you give absolutely all of your burdens to God. A generic exhortation to “let it go” doesn’t help you find out where to put it. Without Christ, whenever you let it go—my metaphor is shifting now—it always finds its way back to you again. You have a burden that always knows its way home.

If you give it to God, He will take it—“casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you” (1 Pet. 5:7). In other words, the issue is not so much who gets rid of it, but rather who takes it. If you try to get rid of it by yourself, the first thing you will notice is that you cannot really get rid of it. If you make sure God takes it, He can take it for good.

Now when you give it to God, exactly what are you giving to Him? There are numerous aspects to this, but let me mention just a couple.

The first is that you are turning over to God your desire for a perfect balance of justice and mercy. Your father is not yet among the damned, and although you have struggled with bitterness and anger toward him, if God were to turn to you on the Day of Judgment and ask you which destiny it should be for him, your only possible response would be “this is too great for me.” We should want God—perfect omniscience—to handle the Day of Judgment. And because we would want Him to take it over then, such a “turning over” is something we are invited to do now. In what has happened to you, there is a raw injustice that needs to be put right. The decision of the court only approximated putting things right. The shattered pieces of your life have not yet been put back together, and if the resurrection will be a time when every tear is wiped away, and it will be (Rev. 21:4), then something much more complete will have to be have been done about this situation.

This is where praying the psalms can be invaluable for you. Many people falsely believe that psalms of imprecation are ancient and barbaric, exhibiting the same impulse that we find in the use of sticking pins in voodoo dolls. But imprecation is actually an exercise of turning something over to God. We do it with our requests, according to our best understanding at that moment, but we are actually releasing the whole thing into the hands of God. And shall not the judge of all the earth do right (Gen. 18:25)?

When you pray this way, you are praying that God would destroy an enemy, and there are two ways this can happen. The first way of destruction is when God transforms an enemy of His into a friend. This is in fact a complete destruction. It is true destruction. This is what God has already done for all believers. “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life” (Rom. 5:10). You and I both were once enemies of God, just as your father is now, and God destroyed His enemies by reconciling us to Him.

So this should be your first prayer for your father in turning everything over to God. Your request is that God would destroy His enemy in this way. That prayer cannot be offered without first uprooting every form of bitterness and malice in your heart, which is what I was writing about last time.

But we live in a world where not everyone repents, and we know this as we pray. When you turn a situation over to God, you do so knowing that there are times when God destroys His enemies, as we might say, in more of an “old school” fashion. “And shall not he render to every man according to his works?” (Prov. 24:12). “For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works” (Matt. 16:27). “Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works” (2 Tim. 4:14). When the terrible day arrives, it will not fare well for unrepentant fathers who repeatedly abused their daughters. “But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matt. 18:6).

As you learn to pray the psalms, along with other similar prayers found in Scripture, you can do so in the full confidence that you are turning everything over to a Father who sent His Son to die for people who were far worse than your father was. In other words, his vile works do not put him beyond the reach of mercy. At the same, he is not necessarily beyond the reach of his vile works. So when you “give it to God” you are doing something fundamentally different than “letting it go.” Letting it go is hard to distinguish from a pretended apathy on your part—releasing it you know not where. But you cannot be apathetic. This matters to you. It should matter so much that you turn it over to the one who will handle it perfectly.

A second part that you need to turn over to God is your future. The question of “what will become of me?” is one that has never been far away from your mind. You look at other women that you know, happily married, and that all seems as far away from you as the dark side of the moon. You cannot imagine being approached by a man sexually while feeling like his approach was holy (Heb. 13:4). All your experience with the ungodly attention from your father was decidedly unholy. The unholiness of his violation of fundamental taboos is a palpable thing to you. At the same time, the holiness of sex—God’s invention—is just words on a page for you. You believe those words to be correct, but you cannot imagine experiencing it as holy.

But you know that being married and flinching every time your husband touched you would be no fun for him, and so it is easy for you to assume that you are a lost cause. And this is why so many girls in your position feel like they have to opt for either a bitter “chastity” or promiscuity. The bitter chastity can take the form of lesbianism, where attempts are made to banish the intrusive male, or it can take the form of a sexless, angry, and very solitary life. Promiscuity results when a girl concludes that she somehow must have deserved the treatment she got, and if that was the case, she must still deserve it. The impulse comes in the form of self-destructive urges. “If someone as important as my father treated me this way, then he must have seen how worthless I am.”

This can drive other forms of recklessness as well—drugs, alcohol, crazy driving, tattooing, cutting yourself, and so on.

But you were created to be protected. You were created to be treasured. That wall of protection was broken down by your father, and the one charged to protect you became the one you needed protection from. But—and this really is good news—the wall can be restored. When you turn the whole thing over to God, you are turning it over to a Father who sent His Son to suffer and die on a cross for you. He did not do this because we were so valuable—we were all of us a broken mess—but we became valuable because He did it.the one charged to protect you became the one you needed protection from

Remember what I said earlier. Christ died for us when we were enemies (Rom. 5:10). “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). Christ did not die for us because we were already valuable. But we have been made valuable because Christ died for us. This is the foundation of your worth — the blood of Christ.

“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” (1 Pet. 2:9).

“That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 1:7).

If your faith is more precious than gold, then you are certainly more precious than gold. If you are part of a chosen generation, then you are chosen. If you are part of a royal priesthood, then you are royalty. If you are part of a holy nation, then you are holy. This is your true identity in Christ, and so the invitation to turn this tragic part of your story over to God is simply an invitation to grow up into a mature grasp of that identity in Christ. You have been made precious.

There is much more I would like to say about this, but I have gone on too long for one letter. Maybe in the next installment.

Cordially in Christ . . .

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bethyada
Member

I think this is very helpful. Even for those with lesser offenses against them. The giving to God is an active thing that realises that we can’t judge rightly. But we can offer our feelings and thoughts–many of which may be true or partly true–to God who knows all things.

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

Fix “mammy,” for goodness sake. Do you want to start a riot?

Christopher
Member

“Fix “mammy,” for goodness sake.”

https://youtu.be/Z7-JABf7GR0

bethyada
Member

You say the courts approximated something that God will completely put right. This raises a question I have thought often but never encountered elsewhere.

Does temporal punishment ameliorate eternal punishment? Are just courts important not just for the victim–do the guilty get punished worse at the great judgement because they went unpunished or inadequately punished in earth?

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

A very interesting question. Unless the criminal is penitent, I would say that it doesn’t ameliorate guilt in the eyes of God. But it would be repentance that saved the criminal, not the punishment. Taking one’s sentence in a good spirit–seeing it as just and not clamoring to be let out of prison–would be a sign of that repentance. But if you left prison as hardened and lacking in remorse as you went in, having done twenty years of hard time would not help you. I am not sure about the other part. Catholic moral theology would say that it… Read more »

bethyada
Member

Jill, everyone missed my question. I have no doubt that repentance is the fundamental issue. And no just court gets it completely right. My question is more along the lines of: Christians get rewards based on their works (but not salvation). I have wondered if the damned are punished variably based on their wickedness. If so, could it be that temporal justice done right leads to lesser punishment and temporal justice not done leads to a greater one (other things being equal).

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

I have to imagine that for the damned, punishment is ultimate, no? I’m not sure I can wrap my head around a “lesser damnation” because they already had a long Earthly prison term.

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

Well, Dante certainly believed there were rings of hell and various levels of suffering. My own views, which are a little sketchy, is that hell is the final and utter deprivation of God. It is difficult to comprehend degrees of deprivation, but it could depend on the sensitivity and capability of the individual. A soul created for great virtue who chose to go the wrong way would presumably be capable of greater suffering.

adad0
Member

God loves Justice. Any true Legal Justice a court delivers, is a blessing in its time.

God delivers ultimate Justice for sin,which is a broader category than law.

bethyada
Member

Yes

insanitybytes22
Member

Here is something along those lines to keep in the back of your mind however, when it comes to truly heinous things. There are some who will never be held accountable in the courts or in life, in fact, worse yet they could even appear to be thriving, truly blessed. Like winning the lottery kind of blessed. You know you got the forgiveness thing down pat when God says, bless them and celebrate because for all you know, this could be the only mercy and joy they’ll ever have. That’s when you know those treasures stored up in heaven are… Read more »

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

When I get that good at forgiveness, I will be happy! But that is a very good point, and it is something to bear in mind when we wonder why the wicked thrive and grow like grass. I also try to remind myself that I should honestly not want riches and fame if I have to commit sins to get them. And then I think about the old joke: Kid: “Mom, will you give me a dollar for being good?” Mom: “No! Why can’t you be good for nothing like your father?”

PerfectHold
Guest
PerfectHold

“put right”

Sounds like that view of justice = paying a debt, and that’s it.

What if justice were a subcategory of rehabilitation.
Instead of dispassionate third party court actions, the law is administered by an intermediary attempting a turn of behavior.

Something more akin to a doctor, attaching a transfusion of his own blood in his theater.
Think Lewis’ Great Divorce —

wisdumb
Guest
wisdumb

I understand the question, and it’s a good one.
There is continuity and discontinuity between the present and the eternal state… Maybe much more continuity than we want to acknowledge.
Our present ‘temporal’ state is part of the eternal state, and our actions here have eternal significance.
Just courts are a blessing from God, and they, too, are part of the eternal state, so my guess is: yes, both victim and perp benefit from justice.

bethyada
Member

Promiscuity, drugs, alcohol, crazy driving, tattooing, cutting yourself,…

In my experience cutting is commonly associated with this. However due to its increasing popularity this may be a less reliable sign.

The other issue is food. Anorexia being common (serious–not just trying to be thin). And eating to obesity in order to become unattractive to men. Overweight and obese people are so common otherwise that this is not a distinguishing characteristic. Though I suspect anorexia is.

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

In the hours I have spent in ED treatment, I’ve learned that a history of sexual abuse is common among both types of disorders. When your weight drops below a certain point, your periods stop and you become infertile. I think this is just the flip side of using excess weight to become unattractive to men. Anorexia puts you back into a pre-pubescent state. There is also a huge cross-over between eating disorders and Borderline Personality Disorder with sexual abuse being the common bond. Young women with BPD are more likely to use cutting to reduce tension. Classic anorexics and… Read more »

bethyada
Member

When your weight drops below a certain point, your periods stop and you become infertile. I think this is just the flip side of using excess weight to become unattractive to men. Anorexia puts you back into a pre-pubescent state.

Non-ovulating yes, though not exactly pre-pubescent. I would question your interpretation here because the overeating to become unattractive is intentional. I suspect the starvation of anorexics is intentional to harm self, but not intentional to stop ovulation and periods.

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

I don’t think I’ve ever known a woman who had a conscious intention to gain so much weight that she became unattractive. It usually (in my observation) begins with treating food like a drug to numb emotional pain. Once the weight problem is serious, being unattractive is a secondary gain. As you said in your earlier post, it is very hard to tell, with North American women, whether excessive eating is a genuine disorder or an unhealthy habit. Our culture is weirdly schizophrenic about food; it is fine to eat startlingly large amounts of high calorie foods, but it is… Read more »

insanitybytes22
Member

Ahhh, how charming! Jesus Christ I mean, and His ability to heal us of just about anything, if only we let Him.

It should come as no surprise that I quite agree with Wilson.

adad0
Member

To your common theme Memi,
the above,
taking Christ at His Word,
that His innocent blood was shed for the lost,
And that His body was broken for the lost,
Is how people and women achieve the “safety” you speak of so often.
Holy Redemption can take away burdens we did not even know could be shed.

⛈????????

insanitybytes22
Member

Amen, A-dad.

Kind of tragic but a bit comical too, that is why we have so many in the world desperately seeking their safe place, not realizing it truly does not exist outside of Christ.

ArwenB
Guest
ArwenB

Point of order: If “chastity” is defined as “rightly ordered and appropriate sexual behavior” then lesbianism is not and cannot be chaste.

insanitybytes22
Member

Well, I think Wilson made a really good point with that one. He does say, a bitter “chastity.” So chastity in quotations and a bitter one to boot.

I like the continuity of that phrasing too, because sometimes in marriage we’ve also got women clinging to a bitter “chastity.”

And all of these unhealthy, inappropriate forms of sexual behavior really do revolve around around a response, a desire, a bitter “chastity” so to speak, even promiscuity.

bethyada
Member

And this is why so many girls in your position feel like they have to opt for either a bitter “chastity” or promiscuity.

Fair response Arwen. How about: embrace or eschew coitus. Some refuse to have coitus ever again, others cannot get enough. Both excessive responses in opposite directions.

Arwenb
Guest
Arwenb

Works for me.

antexw
Member

Excellent, Doug!

Wendy Dibble-Lohr
Guest
Wendy Dibble-Lohr

(From Andrew, husband of Wendy): For encouragement, Wendy married me tho I had submitted to evil touching from a teenage boy when I was 7 or 8, and tho I had from teenage on fought with mixed results against Screwtape’s “solitary vice;” and I married her whose ex-boyfriend had used her as a baby factory. 8 years on we have two full-time kids along with the four part-timers who came with her. For what that may be worth to those earlier on in repentance and forgiveness. Grace be with y’all.

katiehippie
Guest
katiehippie

“When you turn the whole thing over to God, you are turning it over to a Father who sent His Son to suffer and die on a cross for you. ”
So you go from one abuser to another? How messed up is that.

insanitybytes22
Member

I was wondering when someone would come along and say that.

So, God did not abuse, torture, and sacrifice His son, we did.

katiehippie
Guest
katiehippie

I didn’t.
Who decided the punishment for sin?
So god sent himself down to be punished to appease himself?
So, we are the bad guys for doing what god decided the punishment was?
It makes no sense whatsoever.
You’d think god could just forgive people, then no one would have to die. Since he made up the rules to begin with.

insanitybytes22
Member

“Don’t eat of the fruit, you will die.” We went and ate of the fruit. God is not punishing us so to speak, we are stuck suffering the consequences of our own actions. He mercifully bailed us out, redeemed us, offered us a right relationship with Him, reconciliation. He gave His very life for us in the same way a Father might give up His life rescuing a kid. God is not a pagan throwing virgins in a volcano or something. He is not demanding appeasement or hush money the way humans might. “You’d think god could just forgive people,… Read more »

katiehippie
Guest
katiehippie

Who put the fruit there in the first place? It was a set up. He is bailing us out from the scenario that he set up in the first place. God knew we would eat it, didn’t he? He knows everything, right?
That’s an abuser. Setting up a situation he knows will go badly and then blaming us for it. Punishing us for eternity if we don’t grovel before him and ask forgiveness for something he set up and knew would happen.
I wouldn’t praise or ask forgiveness from such an awful character.

insanitybytes22
Member

“I wouldn’t praise or ask forgiveness from such an awful character.” So we create God in the image of an abuser, rather than accepting that God is not created in our image, we are created in His. We are the ones who fall short, not Him. And when you’ve seen enough of that kind of human dysfunction, it becomes nearly impossible to even imagine the goodness of God. Call me crazy, but I’m far too spiteful and defiant to let someone else separate me from the love of Christ. If I can only perceive Him as an abuser than it… Read more »

katiehippie
Guest
katiehippie

Your god is not moral.
I recently spent a lot of time at a children’s hospital with my son. He is much better due to many many good doctors but there were many kids there that would never get better, die or be disabled for life. How could a god justify that? Does he not care? Can he not prevent that? Can he prevent it but doesn’t? I know I’m not that cruel. Your god doesn’t live up to my standard of morality.

Christopher
Member

“I know I’m not that cruel. Your god doesn’t live up to my standard of morality.”

What is your standard of morality?

katiehippie
Guest
katiehippie

I help people if I’m capable. I try not to allow people to suffer for no reason. I have empathy and try to make things better for people around me. I don’t need a god for that. I don’t need an outside source to tell me. Most people don’t. It’s frankly scary that some people seem to think that religion and fear of god is the only reason that people want to be nice to each other. I have a much higher opinion of most people. When I was a religious person, I was much less nice and more dismissive… Read more »

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

Hi Katie. Can you tell me a bit more about the time when you were religious? If you were a Christian believer, how did you explain suffering children back then? When you were religious, did you think you treated people well because you were afraid of God?

katiehippie
Guest
katiehippie

I was LCMS Lutheran for 45 years. When I was a believer it was easier to just kind of gloss over the suffering of others because it wasn’t me. Either they were getting punished or paying for their own mistakes or bad choices or god had some other plan to explain it that I couldn’t understand. I finally realized what a total cop out that is. After a little of my own suffering (nothing compared to some people) I realized that sometimes things happen for no reason. People in religion want to praise god for everything good in the world… Read more »

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

I think everyone struggles with trying to make sense out of suffering. I am glad that the doctors were able to help your child. It must have been very hard for you. One of the core teachings of my church is that God does help people in trouble, and that he uses you and me and everyone else to do it. If you were taught that we don’t have to care about the poor because it’s their own fault, I think you might not have been taught what Christians have traditionally believed. But if it is true that a belief… Read more »

katiehippie
Guest
katiehippie

I’d rather that the people devoting their lives to the poor do it for the sake of the poor, not a love of god.
There are endless examples of religious folk not being tenderhearted. I think people that are tenderhearted would be just as caring without a belief in god.

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

Of course there are. I don’t think most people, including religious people, are naturally tender-hearted. A person with a tender-hearted nature will probably be that way regardless of religious belief. A religious person may have a natural disposition that makes tender-heartedness more difficult. But my point was that, for many people, love of God makes tender-heartedness easier. On a natural level, I don’t really care about people’s motives when they are out feeding the poor and healing the sick. I don’t care whether my cancer surgeon was motivated by love of God, love of the sick, love of science, or… Read more »

fp
Guest
fp

“I think people that are tenderhearted would be just as caring without a belief in god.” From the Washington Times: Video released Friday from a recent event hosted by the Maine Democratic Party features former state senatorial candidate Richard Fochtmann discussing giddiness at news of white male suicide. The incident, shared by Maine First Media and picked up by The Daily Caller soon afterward, elicited raucous laughter from attendees. “What we need in Maine is we need younger people – take a look. It looks almost like a lecture for Social Security,” Mr. Fochtmann said. “Okay, so that’s one thing.… Read more »

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

He went on to criticize people his own age (70+) for their lack of morality. He claimed that his suicide remarks were a joke with the point being that soon this will no longer be a majority white nation.

This is unbelievable, and I can only hope that his remarks stem from dementia. I can remember when a long ponytail on a guy was the outward symbol of his commitment to universal peace and love. Some love.

John
Member

Hey, I had a ponytail when I retired. But it was just a bit of rebellion for having to look trim and proper every day for 30 years. Plus it took WAY to much work. lol

fp
Guest
fp

Yeah, that’s some joke: wishing for the deaths of white men. Of course, as we all know, it’s only conservatives who are racist and sexist.

Far be it from me to correct the person whose English would make the Queen proud, but I think the word you’re looking for here is demented. Unfortunately for the rest of us, this Fochtmann character isn’t self-loathing enough to add one more to the white male suicide statistic.

Christopher
Member

“I help people if I’m capable. I try not to allow people to suffer for no reason. I have empathy and try to make things better for people around me.”

So do you allow people to suffer with reason?

“I don’t need an outside source to tell me. Most people don’t. It’s frankly scary that some people seem to think that religion and fear of god is the only reason that people want to be nice to each other. I have a much higher opinion of most people.”

Morality is about being good not nice.

katiehippie
Guest
katiehippie

God is not a source of morality. Heinous things done in god’s name in the bible. Things he supposedly commanded.
Good is what human beings as a species have collectively decided are the right things to do. Yes, it changes over time. Yes humans can do very bad things. I just try to do the best I can and advocate for good things. As an atheist I am a much more considerate and thoughtful person and I think about why I do things or why I don’t do things.

insanitybytes22
Member

It is actually not virtuous,not moral,and not empathetic to go about telling people that God is immoral. That is actually pure selfishness and pride disguising itself as virtue. Your so called empathy cares nothing for the people you speak to because it is not about our needs at all, it is about your own need for validation and affirmation, for someone to confirm your own biases, to tell you God is immoral and mean and not nearly as worthy as you are to judge right from wrong. You are not the only person who has ever suffered in the world.… Read more »

katiehippie
Guest
katiehippie

Your idea of a god is what is immoral. God doesn’t exist. I don’t try to rob people of their faith and hope, I only object when they try to tell me what to believe and try to legislate their beliefs to tell other people what to do. It’s pure selfishness and pride to say “what I believe is the Truth, you have to believe this as well or you will be eternally tortured” You have no empathy for someone that does not believe as you do. In your mind they are wrong and you are right. You seem to… Read more »

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

Well, Katie, that is all very well, but it is not as if the host of this website is harassing you with unwanted missionaries banging on your door at all hours. This is an explicitly Christian site, and you have to expect that people may from time to time express explicitly Christian views. You also have to expect that non-Christian views may be challenged–kindly, one would hope, but definitely. The alternative is that no one takes you seriously. But people here do tend to take one another seriously. I think I have empathy for people who do not believe as… Read more »

katiehippie
Guest
katiehippie

It’s been used as a club against me. You think I don’t know all of that inside and out? I was a member of a very conservative denomination for a very long time. My great grandparents helped found the church I went to. I was always in the choir, I directed the choir a couple years, 13 years of sunday school, president of youth group, president of lutheran women’s missionary league for my congregation. I know it inside and out. Someone coming along to try and warn me is redundant at best. Guess what, LCMS Lutheran’s KNOW they are right… Read more »

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

You have to be almost unbelievably objectionable not to get posted here! I am sorry you had a bad time in the church you grew up in. Can I ask you, is there anything about it that you miss?

katiehippie
Guest
katiehippie

I miss singing. We had a very good choir director. I still sing by myself but it’s fun to sing with a group. I may look for a community group to sing with if I find some time.

John
Member

I think if you remained a reader of this site you would rapidly find that most, if not all, of the “religious” people here are extremely well read and it would be a serious misgiving to label them as people who do not use their “brain.”

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

Even interdenominationally, people are a pain about that. I knew a woman who told me that she left Catholicism for Anglicanism because “they don’t expect you to check your brains at the door.” She wasn’t even being original! I dallied with the notion of hitting her with Mendel, Heisenberg, James Joyce, and Thomas More, then decided that her moving over to Anglicanism was, at least in the short term, a win-win.

John
Member

Totally agree! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Christians form a circular firing squad. That said, I’m always amazed by the lengths atheists will go to when they debate the existence of something they say doesn’t exist. My hometown newspaper has allowed an atheist to publish a weekly column and every column it is just “God does not exist and you are a fool to think He does.”

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

It would be refreshing to meet a genuinely novel argument–one that I could go away and think about. But it’s not all the arguments being the same that is so tiresome–it’s the fact that each person making them seems to think he is first one in the world to have thought of it. “This just in! No astronaut has ever seen God (or god) in space! And there’s suffering in the world! And religion causes wars!” Is there any religious person on the planet who has not grappled with these issues?

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

Anglicans have some thinkers, but just mind-blowing that someone could miss the intellectual tradition of the Catholic church. I wonder if she was more comparing the preaching styles of two particular congregations rather than the actual faiths at large.

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

No. There is no gentle way to say this, but I don’t think she tended to worry about evaluating possible contrary evidence before declaring something to be true. In my long experience with both, the average Catholic sermon lasts about 13 minutes; the Anglican, around 20. There is scarcely time to compare preaching styles!

I need to be clear here: I am not complaining about sermon length! I like short sermons!

katiehippie
Guest
katiehippie

I don’t think misgiving is the word you are looking for. Also, you seem to have some superfluous quotation marks hanging out in your sentence. Unless, of course, you mean that the people here are not really religious and don’t really have brains.

insanitybytes22
Member

I am religious, I have a brain, and I question everything. Here Katie, a post I recently did that applies here somewhere.

https://insanitybytes2.wordpress.com/2017/04/16/psalm-22/

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

There are a lot of them out there. I have a friend, a Jewish cantor, who sings in a madrigal choir at Renaissance fairs, and in a couple of other a cappella groups. The only a cappella I like listening to (or singing) is Gregorian plainchant.

I wondered if your religious doubts started while you were still being so active in your church. If they did, did you try to suppress them and was that hard? Or did you just one day realize you no longer believed?

katiehippie
Guest
katiehippie

It started out with thinking about what the sermon was about and wishing I could ask questions during it. I tend to have rather an absurdist sense of humor so things would pop into my head but I knew they wouldn’t be well received. Missouri synod lutherans are very conservative and very conventional and very boring most of the time. They would be talking about something like when Jesus was in the desert 40 days and satan came and tempted him and offered him the world. That just made no sense. Of all people/beings, satan would know exactly who Jesus… Read more »

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

I know the feeling of wanting to ask questions; it always struck me as vaguely unfair that if the priest says something dumb, I have to suffer in silence. On the other hand, the rest of the congregation wants to hear him, not me! The story that always got me was when Jesus sends the demon spirits into the herd of Gadarene swine, and they all jump off the cliff and die. “But what about the poor pigs,” I wanted to ask. “They didn’t do anything wrong.” Or why are sheep better than goats, when goats seem smarter and a… Read more »

Christopher
Member

“As an atheist I am a much more considerate and thoughtful person and I think about why I do things or why I don’t do things.” First, God forbid you should stop thinking. The fact that you were thoughtless as a religious person says more about your religion than it does anything else. ‘Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?’ “Good is what human beings as a species have… Read more »

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

I have often thought, listening to a testimony, that the person was probably nowhere near as wicked as he is making himself sound. Catholics don’t get invited to give testimonies, but if were I asked to give one, I would certainly spice it up a little. No downright lies, of course, but a bit of poetic license. Making taking a pen home from the office sound more like stealing the coins from a dead man’s eyelids. I think Katie is doing the same thing in her de-conversion! I am sure she was a nice lady then and a nice lady… Read more »

katiehippie
Guest
katiehippie

It says more about religion in general. Religions don’t really want you to think, they want you to take things on faith.
I didn’t say what we agree upon hasn’t changed . I think our laws are kind of a collective agreement. Not everyone agrees with everything but that’s the idea about them.

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

Some Christian denominations are more orthodox than others. There are some mainstream churches which are fine with their members rejecting every miraculous element of the Bible including the resurrection. I am sure that some will even allow you to believe in God as earth mother, a life force, or an Alcoholics Anonymous Higher Power. I met a Canadian clergyman who was open about his agnosticism. He thought it did not matter whether Jesus really lived as long as we wanted to be like him. I think it is impossible to generalize across the vast number of denominations. I personally can’t… Read more »

Christopher
Member

“It says more about religion in general. Religions don’t really want you to think, they want you to take things on faith.”

That is true of certain religious people, but there are several ‘commenters on this very blog who are religious and thoughtful. The idea that faith and reason are contrary is popular but it’s completely ignorant of history.

“I think our laws are kind of a collective agreement.”

Now you’re talking about ‘our’ laws not ‘their’ laws.

fp
Guest
fp

“I have a much higher opinion of most people.” Really? “I’d rather that the people devoting their lives to the poor do it for the sake of the poor, not a love of god.” “It’s frankly scary that some people seem to think that religion and fear of god is the only reason that people want to be nice to each other.” “So you go from one abuser to another?” “There are endless examples of religious folk not being tenderhearted.” “Unless, of course, you mean that the people here are not really religious and don’t really have brains.” “I prefer… Read more »

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

She’s still mad at the church and mad at the God in whom she no longer believes. If she had really left it all behind her, she wouldn’t be here looking for stand-ins for the repressive Christians she used to know. The ones who have really let it go don’t want to tell Christians how wrong they are. They walk away and never look back. So, pray!

fp
Guest
fp

Praying works. So does pointing out her hypocrisy.

What amuses me most about so-called atheists is that they will openly hold irrational and contradictory beliefs (“God doesn’t exist! I hate God!”) while insulting their interlocutors, yet never fail to tell the rest of us that they’re the smartest and most empathetic people in the room.

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

The logic is so wonky. If there is no God, then whatever you or I think that imaginary deity is like is unimportant–unless it leads us to toss people off buildings, and then it’s our actions that need to be dealt with, not our thoughts. You don’t get angry with people for believing in the Tooth Fairy. You especially don’t get angry with people for believing in a Tooth Fairy who doesn’t meet your personal standards for niceness. I understand not believing in God. I understand believing in God while thinking that other people have distorted and false ideas about… Read more »

katiehippie
Guest
katiehippie

I don’t rely on a worldview that says we are all sinners and damaged and the only thing that will save us is redemption through Jesus Christ. That’s what religion teaches. I definitely don’t have that poor of an opinion of people. I don’t think we are all damaged. I’m not the one who thinks that god created us damaged and then commands us on pain of death and/or torture to be well. I do have a pretty poor opinion of select people but I don’t doom the whole human race to being lost unless they believe in something that… Read more »

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

You have said you are nicer and less judgmental since you stopped believing in the Christian faith. I think what people are trying to get you see is that your comments come across as very judgmental about people who still believe. There is a bit of confusion here. People hold their religious beliefs because they think they are true. You make it sound as if they picked the beliefs out of a catalog called Build-A-God. “Shall I make mine a tree god or a ruler of the seas? Shall I make him mean or nice? I don’t to make him… Read more »

katiehippie
Guest
katiehippie

But god isn’t saying that most people have been damaged by life experiences and need help, he is saying that we are born damaged, born in sin and we deserve to die. That’s horrible. When religious people try to tell me to believe a certain way to avoid judgement they are acting like I am now. I’m trying to warn you how damaging all this can be. I don’t want you to think just like me, I just want you to really think about what you believe. Telling people they are inherently damaged from birth is not a good thing.

Jane
Member

Apart from the deserve to die part, what is horrible about saying we are born damaged and in sin? Have you ever known anyone, yourself included, who has not deliberately done something they knew was wrong and objectively harmful? That is simply what sin is, and that is the kind of “damage” that is meant — that we exist in such a way that we cannot live lives devoid of deliberate evil, no matter how close we might try to come. I will admit that the “deserve to die” part is harder to swallow, but I can’t for the life… Read more »

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

Dear Katie, I am 66 years old and I have thought seriously about what I believe. No one in my childhood told me I was inherently damaged. I was told that my human nature makes it difficult for me to be as kind, as loving, as brave, as truthful, and as self-controlled as God wants me to be. And guess what? Nobody needed to tell me that. As soon as I was old enough to understand the right thing to do, I realized that the right thing to do was not always the easy choice. I did not need catechism… Read more »

Jane
Member

These truths can be weaponized. But stating them is not an attack, any more than a hunk of iron is a sword. They exist, and if there’s a hunk of iron on the ground, all the insistence in the world that swords are bad things is not going to keep you from breaking your toe if you insist the hunk of iron isn’t there and you can just kick the clod of dirt that you want it to be.

Jill Smith
Member
Jill Smith

I was wondering how a committed atheist would answer “Mummy, why is it so hard to be truthful even when I try?” Any answer other than “Who cares about being truthful?” is going to address how hard it is to do the right thing. “Mummy, why is it hard instead of easy?” Because, darling, that’s human nature.

insanitybytes22
Member

Kind of interesting,but I grew up under atheism and it was actually a great relief, a great comfort when I finally discovered “total depravity,” that T in the Calvinistic tulip, because suddenly everything made sense. I was always told that human nature was good and yet I was surrounded by people who were not good at all,and I didn’t feel so good myself. That can actually be very crazy making, you blame yourself, the world doesn’t make sense, everything is upside down. This is a thread about abuse, so consider abuse under a world view that insists people are just… Read more »

Daniel Fisher
Member

Telling someone they were damaged from birth is a great thing if they are in fact injured, and if you in fact have a remedy. If a doctor detected a birth defect that was harming a persons well being and would ultimately lead to an early death, I imagine you’d concur that the doctor informing them that they were so damaged would be a very good thing. I glanced at the discussion, and what seems critical is the question of what is or isn’t true. Whether or not it is good to tell someone about their impending judgment, and how… Read more »

katiehippie
Guest
katiehippie

A birth defect is something real you can point to and see in most cases. Saying you were born damaged in sin is not self evident.

Daniel Fisher
Member

Neither are many mental or neurological conditions self evident to those who suffer them, but that will not stop a caring psychiatrist from informing his patient about said condition. But again, the question cannot be whether or not we find this idea “horrible” or wether or not it is “self-evident.” The question is to whether or not it is true . But two other quick thoughts: 1. If we do have this inherently sinful condition, then obviously we are motivated not to see it, even if it should be self-evident to us. People with a narcissistic personality disorder don’t think… Read more »

katiehippie
Guest
katiehippie

If those are our natural inclinations, didn’t god create us that way? He created everything, right?

Daniel Fisher
Member

Either he made us that way, or he made us differently and we became broken.

Either way, if I read you rightly, you would fault him for establishing criteria for salvation that you find objectionable. That may be, and it is worth discussing, but please note that this is no argument for his non-existence. A God who you don’t like may or may not exist, after all.

“If God existed, I wouldn’t like him… Therefore, God does not exist” is just no good argument for being an atheist.

katiehippie
Guest
katiehippie

There is just no evidence he exists.

bethyada
Member

I don’t rely on a worldview that says we are all sinners and damaged

Interesting as many think this is the most objectively true thing that Christianity teaches, even those outside the faith.

Looking at how people treat others in the world it seems certain that we do evil. And even if we just look at ourselves, we notice that we cannot always do what we want to do.

This doctrine that you reject: that men are sinners, seems to be the one that is most true by our everyday experience.

fp
Guest
fp

“I do have a pretty poor opinion of select people…”

Would those “select people” be Christians?

Last I checked, around 70 percent of Americans identify as Christian.

But please, by all means, keep digging that hole.