How did I get to being who I am today? Long road of questions and difficult answers to say the least. My father was what is commonly referred to as a “pastor” of a small church. No doubt about it I was raised in a family where our lives totally evolved around all things christian and biblical. Each and every morning of my life was started at the breakfast table where my father read a scripture and discussed the meaning of the text and how it applied or should be applied to our lives. Each step of our lives was based upon our beliefs in God and the bible. Church and our religion was not a passive, simple Sunday service in my family. It was our reason for being alive. At age 7 I was dressed in a wool suit and placed on the “pulpit” in front of the congregation to start out my journey in following my dad’s footsteps.
The evening news with Walter Concrite was filtered with remarks as to how current events fit so well with biblical prophecy giving us all the more reason to keep our faith in the bible as God’s Word and to keep outselves clean and separate from Satan’s world. It all fit. It was a very neat and packaged world where through the Holy Spirit and God’s Word we had a very clear and certain understanding of what was going on in the world and what to expect and hope for.
On the surface it all seemed well indeed. I was a good kid. I took it all to heart. Some may have called me zealous in my faith. But there were questions, things I learned in reading and studying the bible that, well, just bothered me. Silently, sometimes late at night in bed, I would ponder my questions, I would find myself troubled over seeming contradictions.
I well remember one night when i was a pre-teen and the bible story of Abraham and Isaac. How God had commanded Abraham to take his son Isaac (the son he had waited so long to have) up to a mountain side and bind him on a stone, raise a knife over his son and prepare to kill his son to prove his faith in God. Cold sweats kept me awake that night as I imagined my own father obeying God to do the same to me. But God had stopped the killing, Right? So this thought process was clearly simply a test of my faith Right? I made it through that night, finally falling fast asleep from shear exhaustion from the vivid images that plagued me that night. I pushed the thought and images to the back of my mind never once having mentioned my doubts to anyone. Bolstering my young mind to simply pray harder and never allow doubts to enter my mind again.
By the time I was in my early teens I was deeply rooted in my faith. Yes, I had the same desires and temptations as most all teen boys. But I strove hard to stay “clean”. I managed to not engage in premarital sex though my hidden bouts of masturbation left me ridden with guilt. I would remind myself how Paul wrote that he had to pummel his body into submission and even had began to view my penis as a hindrance in my spiritual growth, a hindrance that could ultimately lead to my eternal damnation. Needless to say I was married by age 18. However that itself did not resolve this conflict. For the girl I married was much less sexual than I. Once she caught me “abusing myself” the marriage ended…..
I then left religion totally for a while. I lashed out at the church leaders. I felt betrayed, isolated without any guidance or direction. The most amazing part of my leaving church and entering the world was that I found good people who were not churched. These people engaged in things that I was taught not to engage in but they were honest, hardworking people. They never prayed or if they did they never talked about it or prayed in front of others. And unlike what I was taught there simply were not orgies taking place in every home occupied by non-believers. But there was still something missing for me. Over time I found the need to head back to church. I had to prove to my peers and I though myself that I was good enough. That I wasnt a heathen but a true believer who was good and worthy of being one of them. So I jumped back in, humble yet determined. I prayed. I was there everytime the doors were opened. I volunteered for every need and did so with a smile on my face. Ahhh what satisfaction it brought to be so warmly accepted once again. Yes, I was good enough, I was accepted and I was, in the words of Christianity, SAVED!!!!!
But wait! That wasnt the end of my journey. Once the newness of my having been accepted wore off and I was allowed more responsibility in the church my damned brain kicked back into action again. By brain had now replaced my penis as being the part of my body that I had to pummel into submission. I heard racial slurs from church leaders. I saw things that just didnt seem, well, godly. Now that I had had a taste of the world of non-believers I now had something to compare these fine SAVED people to. I had a real gauge to judge my beliefs from. But being older I was less timid at that point so I openly expressed my concerns. The answers were, well, just very simplistic and unsatisfying. “There are things we just dont undersand” I was told. “It is the mystery of God” was the last answer to all the unanswerables.
My uncontrollable thinking brain now led me down another path in my journey. Time to take my bible studies to a new level. I invested in the Strong’s Concordance and Matthew Henry’s Commentarries. I ventured into other churches that taught different doctrines. A relentless pursuit to find answers and truth. Still unsatisfied I started digging into where the bible came from. The history of religion and of the bible. Then different religions.
Then it all began to come together. The reality began to hit me. First of all the mere meaning of the word FAITH. For all religions are faith based. And my new creed became simply that if your belief required faith then you could’t prove your belief. Clearly then it was a futile effort to try and prove something that always required faith to believe in the first place. We cannot see the invisible man in the sky and we do not know what happens at death- if anything. We are a thinking animal that lives with the knowledge of our pending demise and that is a hard pill to swallow. At one time our ancestors believed the earth was flat and thunder was the voice of god. Throughout our history was have pondered our existence and envisioned something “out there” that had the answers and the key to the who, why and how’s of life. A natural disaster would take place and we would look to the grand expanse of the heavens and want to believe in something. We would seek answers and some would provide their theories. No doubt this all led to human and animal sacrifices. Appease the god who swallowed up our loved one or out crops and homes in the tornado, earthquake, flood or whatever other natural disaster struck. If the god(s) saw fit to take something away from us then clearly we had displeased that god. We had sinned. If it was a life that was needed to appease the god then so be it. (remember Abraham and Isaac?) So we killed a human, goat or spilled the blood of a whatever and we were not struck by another disaster for years- it must have worked. We must have appeased the gods. by the fist century man had advanced to the point that it was seen that such sacrifices and superstitions were getting out of hand so then let us come up with the ultimate sacrifice. One death for all at once!!! Jesus was born. A god that could be killed yet still live. Simply accept this story and all is well.
Religion is not unlike politics. A image is sold to the public who takes little or no time to verify what they are being told. Whether it be from peer pressure or shear laziness a presidential candidate is sold and bought and a religious view or doctrine is sold and bought. It has been said that people research the ingredients of their body soap more closely than they research what they are told about the God whom they depend on for eternal salvation. I came to realize that if there is a all knowing god of love, a creator whom we call father who is all-powerful then why would he allow for suffering? Why would he allow the earthquake to destroy lives and property only to have his creation cry out to him, praising his “holy name” and thanking him for all our blessing and begging him to rescue us from the pain he allowed us to suffer to begin with? It reminds me of the “battered wife” syndrome”. And IF this god is all knowing then why would he need for us to die and suffer- to “endure” hardships just to prove our faith and loyalty to him? After all if I treated my own children in such a fashion they would be taken away from me and I would be sitting in prison for such conduct. But, of course, that is the “mystery” of this benevolent god………..
I will write more in regards to my journey and most likely edit this mornings outpouring.