This is going to be a very personal post. Usually, my blog post have something that initiates them; a particular quote or article, a conversation I’ve had with someone, or something I read in passing–but to the best of my memory, this is something that came to me independently. I am going to talk, specifically, about why I ended up leaving the Church, and why my relationship with God, if I can be said to have a relationship at all, is strained beyond the breaking point at best, and broken beyond repair at worst. People have asked if I know the root cause of my depression, I tell them no, but only because the root cause is so personal. Well, people seem to enjoy reading my insights, so it is time to bring it all to light.
The world is a place that is broken, ruled over by (as I have been told so many times) a loving God. I cannot believe that we are ruled over by a loving God, I just can’t.
A homeless woman, a prostitute, addicted to drugs and infected by AIDS gets pregnant. The prior sentence depicts a situation that is too common. For the purposes of widening the scope, you can even clear the AIDS infection, we’ll just stick to the drug addiction.
Her child is born, addicted to the same drugs as her mother, born to a mother who does not have the means to take care of the child, and the child lives a short life of incredible suffering. A year or two, maybe even more if she is found and cared for by someone in a better position, but even then the child suffers to long lasting effects of withdrawal. You can’t exactly pump a child full of methadone, can you? Or, let’s say the mother is not addicted to drugs, but has AIDS. There is nothing for the child, nothing yet, that will give her a life expectancy longer than 25 years. Part of the life this child will live is the suffering that comes due to the myriad cancers and infections suffered by late-term AIDS sufferers.
What did this child do to deserve this life? If you believe that God created the world according to His will, then you believe that he created the world allowing for a mother or a father to visit unfair, unjust, horrible lives upon their children — even if the mother or father in question are removed. Again, there is nothing you can do for a child infected with HIV.
When discussing this with my more religious peers, I have been informed that it is a function of “the sins of the father visited upon the son.” Now, depending on the part of the Bible you are drawing from, this may in fact be God’s will. In the book of Exodus, in various places, it says the iniquity of the father shall be visited upon the son, unto the third and fourth generation. In the book of Deuteronomy, however, it states that the son shall not be put to death for the sins of the father, nor the father for the son. Every man shall be put to death for his own sin. (As an interesting aside, tradition states that Deuteronomy and Exodus were written by the same hand [historians obviously disagree], so Christians who hold to Mosaic scholarship should find it odd that these two books written by the same hand set down rules that directly contradict each other.)
Let’s use another example, then. In Africa, among many people, it is a widely held belief that there is a cure for AIDS! Why does the whole world not know of this, not sing its praises to the heavens?! Well, that’s because the cure is obviously not a cure at all — the purported “cure” is to have sex with a virgin. Let the horror of that sink in for a minute, it’s ok, I’ll wait. Every time I think about this, I have to just stop, close my eyes, and take a steadying breath, because the horror of it cannot fully be comprehended; not by me, not by you. Virgins are kidnapped and violently raped, they are infected with AIDS, the male obviously not cured. And in the truly horrific times when this results in a pregnancy, there is a very high chance the child will end up with an infection as well. Two lives ruined, pointlessly, senselessly, all for the price of one.
If you believe God created the world, if He set down the rules and laws that govern every part of this world, then he allowed a disease like AIDS to pass from father to mother to child. The child, who is obviously free of sin, has had the iniquities of the father passed into him. Where is the justice? Where is the love? Does God not spare a thought for these children?
To clarify, my focus here is the children, for you cannot even through terrible logic say they are filled with sin. When a woman is raped, I have heard all of the worst justifications (and justifications is the only word I can think to describe them). Well, the woman has sinned, and is not under God’s protection. Or man is given ultimate free will, and that free will can be used to destroy the life of another. This is the Christian equivalent of “She deserved it,” and the thought of anyone thinking these things almost makes me fly into a black rage. But even if you do not justify it, even if you agree that it is a senseless crime, a pointless act of destruction, God has set nothing down to stop it.
“What about the 10 commandments?!” you shout, indignantly, hypothetical reader. Well, they certainly set down punishments for those that have committed these heinous crimes, I won’t deny it. I am going to give a quote that gets thrown around Internet forums often enough, in regards to punishing rapists: “You can’t un-rape her.”
The rapist, the father, could be killed, and sent to the deepest pit in Hell, the worst torture in the universe visited upon him, for all eternity — does that fix what has been done to the woman who has been raped? No, God has done NOTHING to ease her suffering, the suffering of her potential child.
Give me a moment to steady myself, and we’ll continue on to another topic. I will come back to the sins of the father, but I can’t keep writing about it at this very second, it hurts me too much to think about for too long.
Satan. Now here’s an interesting one. Satan exists, I am told by many Christian speakers, and he is fighting to steal souls from God. He tempts man into terrible deeds with false promises. Why does Satan exist? God is omnipotent, he could literally snap his fingers and Satan would be removed from existence. He could snap his fingers and Satan would NEVER HAVE EXISTED.
So why is this another sticking point for me? I had a conversation about this with a person who has studied religion much more deeply and formally than me, and I could not get a satisfactory answer — or rather, an answer that satisfied me. There was vague allusions to free will, but that doesn’t really answer the question, does it? In the Gospel of Luke, Satan requests permission (in some translation demands permission) to sift Simon, as a farmer sifts wheat from chaff. The permission is granted! God allows Satan to take a crack at Simon, for the purposes of testing him!
Ignoring the fact that making a bet with a being who literally knows the outcome before the bet is made shows a stunning lack of foresight on Satan’s part, I would like to think about this for a second. Our loving God sets upon Simon the second most evil being in existence (Well, Satan is the Prince of Evil, making God the King) on one of his closest subjects, just to see if he was up to par? Are those the actions of someone of endless love? Add to that the fact that anyone who falls for the schemes of Satan is sent to burn for all eternity in the Pit, and you have a situation that a loving parent would never subject a child to.
Allow me to draw a more human parallel. Your child has asked for a puppy, and like any prudent parent you ask yourself if the child really has the maturity to handle this level of responsibility. Nothing in your experience allows you to answer the question clearly, so you come up with a simple test; you put your child in a room with an untrained dog, alone, and close the door. You’ll come back in a few days, and see how the child is doing. If the child is doing well, he or she can have a puppy, because she has survived a test even more difficult than the owning of a puppy. If the dog kills the child, well, the child did not deserve a puppy.
The above illustration is absurd, but that is what God did to Simon. In fact, that is what God (presumably) does to all of humanity on a day-to-day basis. If Satan exists, and Satan tempts us, and the punishment for answering Satan’s call is eternity in the pit, that is what God has done to all of us. An eternally loving, an eternally just, holy God. A God that could, if he is truly omnipotent, snap his fingers and remove Satan from the world.
Ok, I have made my point with regards to Satan. I think I am ready to go back to the sins of the father.
Let’s go back to Genesis.
On the sixth day (we are going to go by the chronology of Genesis chapter 1, as opposed to the DIRECT CONTRADICTION of Genesis chapter 2, which states that animals were created after man) God created Man, and it was good. He created man in the Garden, with a single instruction, that they not eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Ah, but here is Satan, coming to the fore, right in the beginning, tempting Eve into eating of the Tree. Then Adam, of course, eats of it as well, and God punishes both Adam and Eve by cutting them off from paradise, and their children from paradise, and their children’s children. But here’s the funny thing; God knows everything that is, everything that was, (and this part is important) and everything that will be. When God created Adam and Eve, one presumes he knew they would eat of the Tree, having been tempted by Satan.
God created them, man and woman, knowing that he would be condemning them to an unimaginable term in the Pit, to torture, to death. In fact, if one takes the word of the Gospels as Gospel, one is forced to understand that all humans from Adam onward to Jesus were similarly condemned. In fact, if you believe in Original Sin (primarily espoused by the Catholic faith), you believe that anyone not baptized into the Church is subjected to eternity in the Pit, because Adam and Eve ate the apple as per Satan’s tempting. That is, our God who loves us and loves all people, and is infinitely Just, created humans knowing we would eat of the tree, fail, and then condemned ALL OF HUMANKIND to an eternity in the pit, knowingly, before we were even a twinkle in our father’s eye. The only people spared his wrath are those that swear fealty to him in their hearts, and worship. That is not love, that is narcissism, that is ego, that is a thousand negative emotions, that is justice so cruel and so lacking, even the most conscience-barren of all humans could, if they cared to look, would think that this is horror beyond mortal horror. But God loves us, unconditionally? I do not see this love, I do not feel this love, I do not understand how this could possibly be considered a loving God.
“But,” you interject once more, hypothetical reader, “He sent his only begotten Son to redeem our sins.” Ah, friend, I am glad you brought that up, because that was (conveniently) my next point. First, our infinitely forgiving God could not forgive our sins with a word? With a thought? He had to subject his only son to horrible torture, to three days in the pits of Hell, before he could forgive our sins — and even with that, our unconditionally loving God did not forgive us all, for as is stated in Matthew chapter 7:21, “Not all who call on my name shall be saved.” God sent his only begotten son to redeem our sins, but even then, “Conditions apply.” (Worth noting that in his epistles, Peter states that “All who believe on Jesus shall be saved,” but there are still people out there who say the Bible is without contradiction. [Romans 10:13])
God could not even forgive without the death of his Son. He, who is omnipotent, did have have the POWER to forgive us without a blood sacrifice, for as it is said in the Old Testament (Hebrews 9:22), “Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness.” These are the words of an unconditionally loving Father, are they? “Chucky made me mad yesterday, so I have to kill my firstborn son to keep myself from killing Chucky.” Turn that last sentence over in your head a few times.
What does that sound like? Someone who says “I have condemned you all to the Pit until I decide to sacrifice my own son to myself,” does not sound like a loving parent, does He? And that brings up another point; why did he wait so long to sacrifice his own son, our loving and omnipotent God? If you take the age of the Earth according to YEC, he condemned every human being (save for a select few who were raised bodily to Heaven) to hell for TWO THIRDS of all of history, before he was like “Hmm… I feel like I forgot to do something… SHIT! I was supposed to sacrifice my own son to myself like 3000 years ago! SHITSHITSHITSHIT! The humans are gonna be so pissed.” Then, 2000 years later, that same God gets the luxury to go “Phew, they didn’t even notice. In fact, they still think I am all loving, omnipotent, and watching over them. Heheheh… Suckers.”
If you take into account the age of Humankind according to science (the age varies, but it is certainly in the hundreds of thousands of years or more, depending on whether you are picky about Homo Sapien vs Homo Habilis, etc) then God waited for some 99.7% of human history before he decided to forgive our sins. Our omnipotent, all loving Father.
And here I am, being asked by some, demanded by other, to believe in this God? To believe in this God or I, too, will be condemned to the Pit. The God who loves me, but also knows in his heart that my soul shall be consigned to eternal torture? The God who is infinitely forgiving, unless he isn’t. The God who is infinitely loving, who will allow infinite torture?
What does that sound like… “I beat you because I love you!” Those are the words of a man who beats his wife regularly, but tells her “You made me do it!” We made God do it, readers. It was our fault all along that Adam and Eve ate that apple, and our fault all along that God has condemned us to eternal torture, our fault all along that Jesus had to be killed. God loves us unconditionally, but sins cannot go without punishment! To let sins go without punishment would require some crazy concept like… I don’t know… Unconditional forgiveness.
As it stands, the best we can hope for is coerced conditional forgiveness.
I am not so arrogant as to believe there could not be a God… But I am very comfortable saying, if there is a God, the Abrahamic religions have no idea what his personality is, because I find it fairly easy to think they’ve got it wrong.
I think anyone who has grown up their whole lives with HIV would find it easy to prove that they’ve got it wrong.
I think anyone who was born with a drug addiction, had they the capacity, would find it easy to prove that they’ve got it wrong.
And I think anyone who takes a minute to step back, ignore all of what other people have told them, and think for themselves could, with an open mind, see that they’ve got it wrong.
I don’t think God loves me. I don’t think God would even care enough to give me the time of day.
Please prove me wrong; like I said at the top, the idea that over one billion people believe that this is what “love” feels like is at the root of my depression.
Please prove me wrong so I can look at the world and be happy again.
Please prove me wrong so that when I wake up in the morning, I do not have to think about the fact that thousands of women are raped every day, doomed to being infected by HIV, because God created a disease that punishes the rapee as much as it punishes the rapist. Tell me why a disease exists that punishes the child more than it could possibly punish the parents, because the child will spend their whole life with it.
Tell me why, so I can stop having nightmares about it.