October 27, 2013
According to christian theology: God expected humanity to consistently please him, obeying him all the time; and any actions of ours that don’t please him, that disobey his will, are called “sin”; and it is for the existence of “sin” in our lives that we need to accept God’s forgiveness.
Looking back, it’s incredible that I had at one time thought this belief to be realistic. How can anyone please or obey anyone else all the time? It can’t be done. It is highly unrealistic to even consider the possibility.
There was never a time when humanity wasn’t trying to learn how to improve their lives, trying things out, observing what does and doesn’t work. There was never a time when anybody consistently walked the proverbial “narrow path”. We are always off balance to some degree, weak, vulnerable to the unknown that lies ahead of us. Sure we try to center ourselves, walk whatever balance beam we’ve created for ourselves. But to expect us to never fall over one side or the other is not reasonable.
And yet, to become a member of the christian church, it is expected of you to accept God’s forgiveness for the existence of sin in this world through his human sacrifice 2000 years ago.
Of course, christians are free to believe what they want to believe, but I don’t see how it’s necessary to accept God’s forgiveness for the existence of sin in this world. And believing in a God that sanctions a human being to be tortured and hung on a cross until death to represent this forgiveness is horrifying.
A reasonable God would not deem the mere existence of sin worthy of being considered an offense. And a moral God would not expect a human sacrifice to overcome this offense, to represent forgiveness. Seeking forgiveness from someone is done after realizing we have hurt them. We didn’t kill Jesus. Nor should we consider the existence of our sin to have killed Jesus. And it’s not necessary to believe that God’s feelings are hurt by our inability to please or obey him all the time! No all wise and knowing God would stoop to such pettiness.
But I did. I believed it whole-heartedly. I lived it, breathed it, taught it, preached it. My past is a closet filled with all sorts of theological beliefs that are now my personal demons. And today I live with the embarrassment and shame, knowing that these ugly, superstitious views were once mine. Of course, I shouldn’t let it get to me. What’s in the past is the past, right? I need to forgive myself for painting the world over with a wide biblical brush, for categorizing or boxing in myself and my fellow human beings in iron age views that judged us for not measuring up to the standards of an imaginary supreme being.
But I didn’t just dabble in it now and then. I wasn’t a “Sunday christian”. My theological daydreaming consisted in believing in all sorts of crazy, egotistical things. There was a time in my past when I believed that I could sense the presence of angels. I once hallucinated that northern lights formed into a picture of a man kneeling outside of a fish’s mouth (read: the book of Jonah). I contemplated the destination of people who had died in my lifetime. I had opinions about what I thought was the “will of God” in certain situations.
For 30 years I believed these kinds of things. It’s not easy for me to get over this. In fact, I’m bitter. I’m bitter that the majority of my life consisted of this kind of behaviour, these kinds of beliefs. And even though I may have a special appreciation for secular humanism coming from an evangelical background, I envy “cradle atheists”. I know we are all guilty of all sorts of foolishness in our lives, atheist and believer, but the kind of foolishness which is my religious past weighs heavily on me.