Monday, April 4, 2011

Don't Call It Love

This is from an amazing essay on why fatherhood made a man reject Christianity:

The second realization came when my young son began to realize what death was, and connected what he heard of Hell and demons in church. He became terrified of his parents dying, and then his death, and then everlasting torture. I opened my mouth to explain the sacrifice of the Lamb, and why he'll never see Hell if he loved Jesus and then it hit me like a freight train.

As a father, I was about to tell my terrified son the fairy tale equivalent of this: "If he didn't want to end up locked in a dark, dank basement filled with spiders and child molesters and murderers, then he should love me with all his heart and soul, and if I believed he was sincere, then I wouldn't lock him down there forever. I would tell him I sacrificed myself to work very hard for him, and that I was giving him this gift of a chance to live upstairs with me forever. However, if he didn't want it, then it was out of my hands and he would have to go to the basement and be locked in there, away from the warm beacon of my love forever."

I couldn't tell my child this. I couldn't tell him that invisible demons were real.

Christians always want to tell me about god's love. God loves me, I should love him back. He loves me so much, he created me. He loves me so much he sacrificed himself to himself to change a rule he himself made. He loves me so much that if I don't love him properly, he'll send me to Hell forever and I will be tortured for all eternity . . . um, wait, that's not love.

I would never, never ever ever, do that to anyone I love. I wouldn't do that to anyone I hate. I wouldn't do that to anyone at all. That's not love. Love is the desire to protect someone, to see them happy, to see them safe. Love is not punishment and torture. Love is not threats and pain. Love is patient, love is kind . . . how the fuck is that the same book about the same person, anyway?

"Oh, but you hurt god by not loving him back." I've heard that one more than once. Yes, I have loved someone who did not love me back. It sucks. It hurts and it's humiliating and no one likes rejection. I still wouldn't torture the object of my unreturned affection just because they didn't love me back. That's no part of love.

"Well, how can you comprehend the divine?" That's a better explanation, in a way. How could I possibly understand the motivations of an omnipotent, omniscient being? Just immortality alone would change how you see things, let alone having the ability to create universes. I could not understand god.

I do understand this, however, love is patient, love is kind, it is not jealous or boastful or proud. Those things are true. If it is not patient and not kind, if it is jealous, boastful or proud, it is not love. And torture, even one second of torture, let alone an eternity, is no part of love. So stop calling it that. Your god as you imagine him does not love anyone, by his own definition in his own book.


  1. Yeah. One of my major points of departure from Christianity was when I realized that I am more loving and forgiving than god. Objectively speaking, the fact that I cannot fathom damning anyone to hell for eternity for anything, including things done directly to me, means that I better than god at one of the main things that we use to define god.

    And I'm an asshole. In all seriousness, I am.

    It makes more sense, though, if you realize that we're talking about a book that had its basis in bronze age morality. The higher above you the person you wronged was, the more it cost you when you committed an infraction. The lower the person was below you, the less it cost you if you harmed them. Ergo, an infinite god can punish infinitely and does not deserve punishment for mucking about with the lives of mere mortals.

    Weirdly, I'd be okay with Christianity if it simply taught that. It would demand the love of a captive suffering from Stockholm Syndrome, but at least it would be honest. And, when it gets right down to it, that's what Christianity demands, anyway...

  2. (TW for sexual abuse)

    Even Jehovah's Witnesses, who claim not to believe in hell, will routinely tell young girls that sin can open them to demonic activity, up to and including sexual abuse. I was told this, as were many other girls I knew. It was terrifying.

    In retrospect, I cynically wonder if it wasn't used by some as a "grooming" method, since cover ups of sexual abuse were fairly rampant.

    I can't imagine what the hell (heh) went through my own father's mind when telling me this nonsense, since he himself is a survivor (of abuse AND an in congregation/in family cover up!) but it's got nothing to do with a loving god or just universe.

  3. one has to be impressed at the man's understanding of his cognitive dissonance - and his INSTANT reaction to it, and the fact that he placed his child's mental well-being over his own "status" and "belief". that last one - losing your faith, even if it's because your child NEEDS you to, is the hardest one - people who have faith NEED that faith [really, we do. otherwise, we wouldn't have it, in many cases. i'd LIKE to think i'd have faith even if i didn't need it, but...]

    this man sacrificed what was, for him, the entire point of life so that he wouldn't torment his son with those beliefs.

    that's probably the most awesome thing i've heard in a REALLY long time.

    this is the first i've heard of this. previously, other than their anti-blood-transfusion stance [which ONLY bothered me when it was CHILDREN not being allowed blood that would keep them alive...] i'd never heard anything that was truly negative about JW. i mean, people complain about the 7am Saturday knock on the door, but...

    i also thought JW didn't believe in demons...

    that's incredibly fucked up. has there been anything more written about it? have you written about it on a blog? i'd like to read more about it [if it's a widespread problem, i'll add JWs to my list of "Churches to somehow take down for abuse of their congegrations"]

    i'm sorry that you went thru that - seriously, fucked up. if you need to talk or whatever, you can email me denelian at yahoo.

  4. @ denelian

    Thanks. Yeah, Jehovah's Wittnesses make a great big hyuuge deal of seeming as blandly normal and morally upright as possible. No huge families, no "weird" clothes (but modest!), just nice, friendly straight edge folks. The reality is, as you can imagine, darker.

    There are blogs for recovering/apostate JW's, which detail similar stories to the one I shared. It splits up families, even where outright abuse isn't involved.

    They definitely do believe in demons, but not in hell as such, and even recommend burning offending demonic books and music (or used to). Their brand of christianity is...special. I haven't blogged much about it (yet), although I keep meaning to.

    But yes, abuse cover ups are quite common, of the sexual abuse and domestic abuse varieties. The angry ex-witnesses that sometimes protest (or used to)conventions, have plenty to be angry about for sure.

  5. wow. that's... special :( sorry to steal your line, but it's so APT!

    any blogs that you'd req?

  6. Ha, yeah, even theologically, they are way way out there (jesus wasn't hung on a cross, because t is the sign of tammuz, he was hung on a stake! among other brands of...special)-- honestly, I can't *personally* recommend any blogs in particular, that I regularly read, but this looks likes a good one

    Many of the experiences on ring big bells, just minus the huge families. JW's are deeply patriarchal-- which backfired on them, because now I'm a scary angry feminist :P

    If you want to know more though, feel free to email me at ppbloggers [at] (I'm Pepper)

  7. NLQ *is* an awesome place.

    and i can't help but be HAPPY that you're a feminist, as much as i hate that you had to live thru that :(

    also, i emailed you :)


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