I really can no longer even pretend to follow a belief where I find so many more questions than plausible explanations
I was asked by several Christians, and even some Hindus, in the US and India why I left Christianity. Christians want specifics, I hope this will help explain.
I started life in a small country town, where church bells rang on Sunday mornings and stores were closed on Sunday by matter of law, not custom, (although laws can arise from customs).
Since just about everyone in that small town went to church each Sunday, it never occurred to me that there was a choice in the matter. It was just what people did. Period. Monday thru Friday people went to work or school. Then on Sunday they went to church. I never analyzed it as just the way of life in The Bible Belt, but then, I was 5 years old.
Fast forward several years, I was starting to wonder about things I had heard in church, things which society enforced, or at least historically embraced because, well, it was in the Bible so it was “God’s will.” Incidentally, these doubts weren’t just in church, but also school. Each morning for my first 9 years of schooling we said a prayer, and in some cases Bible verses, before our academic day began. Some days we would actually discuss a story or two from the Bible prior to classes. In the ninth grade it was a Catholic school which only intensified matters.
I questioned such verses as Colossians 3:22 and Ephesians 6:5 both of which say Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. Then there were Ephesians 5:22 and 24 telling wives to submit themselves to their husbands as they do to the Lord. Verse 24 says to submit in everything. While 1 Corinthians 14:34 says Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says.
While those verses are pretty straightforward, there were others that gave me reason to seriously question the very basics of the religion that had controlled me all my life. The one verse that seriously bothered me was the admonishment against blasphemy. Mathew 12:31-32 states: And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.
No one thus far has ever been able to define blasphemy to me. Try if you can to imagine being a 13-year-old kid and wondering if you are going to burn in Hell forever because you have blasphemed. I mean, no one knows what it is exactly, so how can they know if I had done it or not. If I had, then at the tender age of 13, I already knew I am going to Hell, so why worry about keeping any of the other rules. It’s a zero sum game. I was doomed, so no good I can ever do can possibly matter. On the other hand, if I hadn’t done it, then maybe I accidentally would, which begs the question and starts the entire cycle all over again.
I looked it up – the meaning has evolved somewhat. It once meant to speak irreverently about God or sacred things. More recently I looked and the present day explanation is a bit more clear. For instance burning a Bible, vandalizing a church, or worshiping Satan. Well I haven’t done any of those, but leaving the Christian religion entirely may qualify, in which case I must plead guilty. However I still wonder how burning a building or a book is blaspheming the Spirit.
Of course the older I got and able to absorb more, the questions got more challenging, and my queries were met with the universal Christian response. Have faith! Just have faith and someday all of your inquiries will be explained. Yep they were, when I embraced Sanata Dharma…. But I digress.
One of the most mysterious verses in The Bible concerns Jesus seemingly not wanting everyone to be saved! For example, he told a parable about a farmer sowing seeds, and the various outcomes of said seeds. When he was alone, the Twelve (meaning his disciples) and the others around him asked him about the parables. He told them, “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables so that, ‘they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!’ (Mark 4:10-12). Why, I wonder would the one who claims to be the savior of the world not want many of his audience to understand his message. Isn’t that the whole point of his coming to earth in the first place?
Nor is that the only time I was puzzled regarding Christ’s message; in Luke Ch 8:32-33 he drives demons from a man who was possessed. The Demons knew him and begged him not to send them back to Hell. He granted their wish and drove them into the pigs: 32 A large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside. The demons begged Jesus to let them go into the pigs, and he gave them permission. 33 When the demons came out of the man, they went into the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and drowned. LUKE 8:32
I have always wondered if Jesus lied to the demons or if he simply granted their prayers like he sometimes does ours. If the pigs drowned then were the demons simply released into the water? Or were they sent to Hell anyway, or did they find another being to inhabit? The point here is that Jesus either lied to the demons or he granted their prayers. Why would he grant the prayers of a demon? On the other hand, if he lied, then is it okay because they were demons?
One major question I had is the verse Galatians 6:7-9 : “7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 8 Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. 9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” I wondered what if someone does so much good or evil that they don’t live long enough to reap it? The result is they would be assigned to Heaven or Hell respectively. That was for me always too cut and dry.
The severing to my total embrace of that dogma came at a relatively young age. It was a denied request for an outcome of which I had held unwavering faith. The un granted prayer changed the entire trajectory of my life. I felt betrayed by God, I felt, frankly, lied to. It has taken years to realize that there was karma involved and that my path was simply to travel in another direction. However had I not been indoctrinated with the dogmatism of helplessness where I can do nothing without Christ and that everything comes to me from the outside, not from within then maybe things would have been different….
Faith. The most ubiquitous words in Christianity are have faith, just have faith………words I heard all my life growing up and still hear anytime I ask a Christian something about which they have no clue.
Over the years, though the bitter hurt has softened, and after decades of reading, rereading and seeking commentaries on the verses that I once felt betrayed me, I now realize that the particular verses never really concerned me after all, and that I ever believed them so strongly shows that I was gullible and naive, practically to the point of pathos.
The verse (es) in question concerns Jesus telling his disciples that they can ask anything in his name and they will receive it. “ 3 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” There are several places where a variation of this is stated. Mathew 21:22 states that if people have faith and do not doubt, that they can do anything. This he said because he became angry at a fig tree for not having borne fruit and he cursed it; the tree immediately withered and died. The disciples were amazed and he in turn informed them that they could do such deeds if they only had faith. “21 Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. 22 If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.
That I was credulous enough to ever believe this undoubtedly speaks more about me than it does Christianity, but nonetheless, I fell for it. The above is in Mathew but there are also corresponding tales in Mark 11: 23-24 23“Truly I tell you that if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and has no doubt in his heart but believes that it will happen, it will be done for them. 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. John however throws a caveat where it states (John 15:7-8) 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it
will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
“Ah,” say my Christian friends when I cite these verses as to why I don’t believe them from personal experience, “Christ’s words are not within you”. You really don’t have the faith you thought you did, You are not in Christ”. It would take a few years of farther study, but I finally realized that in those particular verses the matter is simple. Christ was just plain not addressing me. He was speaking to his disciples and I am just one of the masses who may not even be destined for salvation, at least not in accordance with Mark 4:10-12 (mentioned previously.) Maybe everything in the pages of The Bible, are not meant for everybody.
In Hinduism I have found a way of life as opposed to pure dogmatism. Hinduism is an evolving religion. Its rituals progress. …It believes that all the roads lead to salvation, while Christians, believe that the Bible is the solution to all problems. The Bible which was written several centuries ago is not always relevant to every era. Hindus have several sources of scripture including The Vedas, Upanishad, Puranas, and Gita. There are also oral scriptures.
Hinduism tolerates Christianity while Christianity is totally opposed to Hinduism. Any other form of worship that is not approved by The Bible is an anathema and a sin to the Christian world. We believe that all paths lead to one truth, while Christians believe the only truth is The Bible.
There are no “secrets” in Hinduism. If I study enough I can obtain all of the knowledge known to the priests. While the odds of that happening are highly unlikely, it feels really good to know that it could. The Vedas are the most in-depth source of spiritual knowledge that there is.
As for the pigs and the demons, Hindus believe that everything possesses a part of God, therefore God persists in both good and evil. Christians believe that God did not create evil, but instead, created humans free to choose, and that freedom includes the possibility of doing wrong. In the case of the pigs and the demons, under Hindu beliefs it would be okay for Jesus to the prayers of the demons, because they have a right to God as do we. God cannot hate anything that is a part of God.
Regarding women, in Hinduism women are considered equal to men, and there are many Goddesses.
Hinduism really simplifies reaping what one sows with The Law of Karma! Karma is a rather involved discussion; for more info from this blog see http://theinvisiblehindu.com/hi-im-karma-how-well-do-you-know-me/
Hinduism for me has been enlightening and insightful. I am learning more about myself and I am happy to be finally on a path that makes sense to me. With all due respect to my Christian friends and loved ones, I feel that I was called by Lord Shiva. Shaivism has given me much spiritual insight and internal peace and happiness. I really can no longer even pretend to follow a belief where I find so many more questions than plausible explanations, where 2000 years ago it’s development and evolution stopped, and where the very act of presenting a question or a doubt boarders on abomination.
However to my loved ones and those for whom Christianity is your path, you have my sincere support and respect. I humbly request that am afforded the same.