A friend commented about the two extremes we tend to adopt:
If it feels good - do it
Our feelings are completely unreliable and we must live by external guidelines
Society tends to regard 2 as the best option, and religion in particular, declares that we are, at our very core, unreliable, deceived, incapable of making good choices, incapable of real love, and that we must have external guidelines by way of laws - either legal or religious - that govern our behaviour.
Christianity, although declaring we are freed from law and it's burden by Jesus, still states very clearly that it's only by having the Holy Spirit in us that we can ever hope to make good, life giving decisions. But that's still relying on an external source, and the end goal is to prove/demonstrate our "goodness" by living to the laws laid out in the bible, and the Holy Spirit gives us the power to do this.
I've found, however, that those who begin to understand who they really are, who we ALL are, see life very differently.
As we see that our intrinsic value isn't based on approval by others, adherence to "laws", performance based on assumptions etc, but is based on the fact that we are all equal humans, who are created in, by and for love, the need for external laws and rules fades.
We no longer need to think in those terms, simply because all that we do reflects our own self worth. We see ourselves in others and want to draw that worth out of them. We act with empathy in all we do, because we know that love is the only universal constant that transcends all other systems of belief.
My friend said he now pretty much lives by the first statement. And I agree, because I'm starting to understand that I really can trust myself - my deepest self. I am love. Love feels good. I trust that love.
We can say that we deceive ourselves, but what is the basis for that statement? Could it be that we have desperately tried to apply external rules, in the belief that without them we are evil to the core. We have been taught this for so long that we believe it without question. In fact, to question it only "proves" that we are just self seeking, hedonists
But as we gradually let ourselves see our essential worth, love becomes the prime motivation. Not performance based conditional love (which isn't love anyway), but a simple powerful love that genuinely wants nothing more than to
nurture, respect, unconditionally accept itself in all people and all things, especially and foremost, in ourselves.
This is nothing new. It's not some hippy drug induced dream, or "new age" escapism. It's the deepest truth that has wound it's way through human history. We all know it deep down, if we dig deep enough, it's there.
We ARE love, and when that revelation becomes "conscious" we can simply do whatever we want because it feels good.
Will we make mistakes? Of course! But those mistakes will help us to see deeper. It inspires greater empathy and compassion as our "unloving" ways are exposed. We have nothing to fear but fear itself.
I struggle with a lot of stuff about christianity, as you probably know by now!
I think most of the fundamental doctrines are inherently flawed - but I'll leave that for another day.
Here's something that most of us can relate to in one way or another. We either love Hillsong, and all the other churches like this, or we hate them. I don't know many in between strangely. I guess they are out there somewhere.
This video is self explanatory of course, and I was involved with this type of christianity most of my life.
It's a cult.
All you have to do is read the gospels, then look at this to realise that.
I'll say it again - it's a cult. There is nothing about this Jesus would approve of (assuming you even believe what is written about him anyway)
I've seen countless lives absolutely ruined - spiritually, emotionally, psychologically and financially by these cults. I would go so far as to say they are "evil" in that they do not bring any benefit to the rest of humanity, and in fact actively cause hate and division.
"But Jim, these are good honest people and most would be sincere and loving!"
Yes, absolutely. They are good honest people, sucked into a massive delusion that only benefits the elite by bleeding the sheep of all self worth, independence, empathy, money... shutting down the ability to love unconditionally, inspiring judgement and exclusivity. I used to be able to think of good points, but I can't any more. Not one.
The methods of control and manipulation are totally abusive, causing very deep damage. There's even a name for it now - Religious Trauma Syndrome
I guess this is another negative post, damn it! But in all this I'm saying that this is NOT love, this is a counterfeit. Real love, real life doesn't look anything like this - never has. Look for the real deal - it's out there, well actually, its IN us just waiting to be found!
I get a few comments about being too negative. That I shouldn't tear down religious views and focus on the negative things. That I should show the overwhelming power of love, and draw people to truth through that alone.
In many ways, I think that's true. I would love to just get on with life, living out my belief that love wins - always!
I do try to make love the end goal of all I do and say. But I guess I'm not at the point where I can drop everything and just do that.
The reasons are perhaps complex, but I'm trying to work through them. The main thing that motivates my observations on religion is it's inherent destructiveness. Sure, there are some good things in the mix, but most of the foundations of religion (not just christian) are completely against everything humanity needs to function as a holistic, united and loving society. Religion divides - always.
I simply don't think it's loving to NOT help people understand the nature of their paradigms, to avoid wrestling with the inherent faults of their belief systems, to deny their God given intellect and reason. I want to inspire people to challenge the status quo and explore their own unique spirituality.
There are many beautiful and loving christians (and other religions too) who see past the poisonous doctrines and walk in the simplicity of love. But the majority are happy to embrace the lies and deceptions, call them truth, and then call the rest of the world heathens - who can only be accepted by God if they believe exactly as they do.
What I feel compelled to do these days, is to dismantle/de-construct christianity (and I'd do the same to all religions if I was an expert on any others, lol) - to expose the logical fallacies; the glaring inconsistencies; the historical, cultural and social ignorance we display of the biblical times and paradigms; to show what a complete farce it is and just how deceived we can become.
Perhaps it's all still too fresh in my mind. Perhaps I still have an axe to grind for the abuse LGBT people suffer at the hands of christians. Perhaps I resent the fact that I struggled so hard to make this religion work. But if I can help others through the same struggles; give them "permission" to be angry; to question without fear, and tell them that to avoid the hard stuff by pretending everything is nice, and just "love" each other - then I think that's an empowering thing to do.
I may grow out of this phase. I don't know. But I do know that above EVERYTHING else, love wins - always - so live loved.
I even have a tattoo on my arm that says "Live Loved"!
Coming from a strong born again bible waving Christian background I can say with absolute certainty that christianity is convinced it has the monopoly on love. And I'm talking about real meaningful love. Not fleshly/worldly love - the real deal love!
Christian love says that God loves you. It also says that He loves you so much that he sacrificed His son for your sin. He says that the most loving thing we can do is bring people into His kingdom so they too can experience His love.
They also say that we were conceived in sin. That our inherent nature is sin and there's absolutely nothing we can do about it. It was our choice however, although Adam made that choice for us, but somehow its still our choice, so we have to chose God's solution to the problem which is accepting the sacrifice of Jesus so we can take on Jesus' perfection and live vicariously through him.
We will then live happily ever after, basking in God's love.
I used to believe this was the one truth - the only way to peace and eternal bliss.
But then I re-read 1 Corinthians 13, and then I looked at my heart, and I looked at the rest of the bible, and I looked at the church, and I scratched my head. Something just doesn't add up here.
So here it is: 4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.5 It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails.
Notice anything odd about this?
Is God patient? Only to a point, it eventually gives out, as it did quite regularly in the Old Testament stories, and it eventually gets too much for him in the New Testament too.
Is God kind? Only if you do the right things, say the right prayers and don't get up his nose too often, but he's definitely not kind to the unsaved.
Does he envy? You bet! He's a jealous God and will have no other lovers!
Does He boast? All the time. He's God, He's awesome and you better believe it!
Does he dishonour others? He dishonours everyone who isn't "saved".
Is He self seeking? Well, He seems to want our absolute and total worship and devotion, so I guess he is.
Is God easily angered? You bet, in the Old Testament he was one angry dude, and He loses it again when Jesus returns.
Does He keep a record of wrongs? Now this is a doozy. He keeps complete records of everything everyone does, but then gets rid of them if they get "saved", but if they blaspheme the Holy Spirit, or turn from God, he digs them out again. And apparently we all get judged anyway so there's not much point.
Delight in evil? Obviously his definition of evil is different to ours, but he thought it was great to wipe out entire nations, murder babies, rape women, all that stuff. He thought it was perfectly acceptable to displace other nations from their rightful lands by whatever means they saw fit. He delights in seeing his enemies defeated.
Protects, trusts, hopes, perseveres? When it suits his interests.
His love never fails? As long as it only concerns the "saved". His love for teh rest of the world fails all the time and will ultimately fail completely when he's had enough of us scum.
And then there's all the stuff Jesus said about love and forgiveness!! So all up, God expects far more of us then he's willing to do himself. Does he love his enemies? Nope.
Does he turn the other cheek? Nope.
Is he fair and just? Not in this life - hopefully in the next.
Sure, I can sprout lots of complicated theology to wriggle out of stuff like this, and to be frank, that's what the church has been doing for centuries - creating more and more complex convoluted doctrines to make sense of the mess.
There's no getting out of it though. The God of christianity is a psychopath.
(I'll be writing a lot more about this stuff soon)