Christianity Has a Consent Problem. “I Belong to Me: Learning Agency and Consent Outside Christianity”

Wow wow WOW! This article is incredible. Please read the whole thing, if I tried to share all the best parts I’d be pasting the entire article because every paragraph packs a solid punch. Take a few minutes to really absorb it; it’s deep. Once you’ve read it, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the concepts of agency and autonomy, how necessary they are for a fulfilling life…and how impossible they are when consent is ignored. I’ve been realizing with a growing sense of anger and frustration that I had no grasp of those concepts as a Christian. Really, as I came to understand what basic respect, prioritizing consent, and honoring the autonomy of my fellow humanity looked like, I realized that Christianity as I knew it had no place for those things…and therefore had no place for me.
Don’t get me wrong. There were many things that played into my deconversion — this wasn’t the only thing. But it was certainly an eye-opening discovery.
You see, I grew up with the knowledge that I wasn’t my own person. Oh, no. I belonged to many people.
Read more: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/excommunications/2014/11/i-belong-to-me/#ixzz3K7OCNqSA

I had never thought about it in this light before, but it makes so much sense. I had wondered why I had never fully understood consent before, why as an adult I still didn’t understand that my body and my mind were truly mine and no one had the right to control me or dictate my life. I have felt such a freedom and liberty since my deconversion, a rise in my self respect and confidence, and largely for these reasons. Every day I see people I love putting themselves down because of their beliefs, telling themselves and others that they are unable to make good decisions or do anything of significance by themselves. Their bodies and minds do not belong to them, but to God or their spouse or their authority figures or to their doctrine. Challenging these ideas is met with negative reactions.

I was taught that sin is slavery, but I think the Christian idea of non-automony and unquestioning submission to God, doctrines, or authorities are far more akin to slavery. “Sinning” means simply that I’m not abiding by an impossible code of conduct that comes with a henious and unjust retribution system that I DID NOT CONSENT TO ABIDE BY. Is that truly slavery? Or is it the dogma of sin itself that is the true slavery?

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Why so Angry? Here is the Reason- It’s Probably Not What You Think.

Why so Angry? Here is the Reason- It’s Probably Not What You Think.

Why do these feelings of anger arise within my bosom when certain issues are discussed or brought to my attention? I used to think that I was simply argumentative by nature (not actually the case, I actually hate confrontation). So why I do I post publicly about hot topic issues, even when sometimes the responses I receive are hurtful and make my non-confrontational inner person want to run and hide? Why do I get angry and upset over certain issues when they come up? I can sum it up in a single word:

Empathy.

It is empathy that drives me to post about equality issues, because not saying anything means I am allowing the oppressors to continue unchallenged.

It is empathy that drives me to challenge religion, because I have seen and personally experienced the harm and pain it can and does cause on a regular basis.

It is empathy that causes me to encourage others to start thinking critically, because not thinking through our beliefs is detrimental to ourselves and to society, and knowledge empowers us to make better decisions.

It it empathy that causes righteous anger to rise up within me as I read about yet another male politician enacting laws to limit and oppress women in a nation that’s supposed to be so advanced.

It it empathy that puts knots in my stomach as I see young children being indoctrinated with ideas and beliefs that are not only based on fiction, but can also cause harm and unhealthy views of life.

It is empathy that drives me to address our sexuality, because I was raised (by my Christian circles in general) to believe that girls who had sex outside of marriage were broken and used, and when I hit puberty and masturbated I hated myself for it. The needless guilt and shame I felt about my natural sexual urges is something I don’t want other young people to experience.

It is empathy that drives me to support a woman’s right to make her own choices regarding abortion and birth control, and makes me fight to counteract the negative stigma that hurts so many women.

It is empathy that makes the idea of hell repulsive to me, because the idea of burning people alive forever for ANY crime is horrendous and immoral, and using fear tactics to promote a religion is abusive and hurtful.

 

When I was a Christian, I wanted to be a missionary because I had been taught that this was the most empathetic thing I could do- save lost souls from the torments of hell. Now I try to save people from the torments of the real world.

This is where my empathy now takes me.

Christian Apologetics: Primarily for the Saved

[Someone] pointed out that apologetics rarely persuades non-Christians to become Christians. I agreed, adding that apologetics is primarily for the “saved,” not the “lost.” It serves to assure the faithful that their beliefs are intellectually respectable, despite the apostle Paul’s insistence to the contrary.

Thoughts? I have to say, I agree with this completely. Unless some part of you already believes that the Christian god is or may be real, Christian apologetics arguments are very rarely effective.

I studied apologetics in Bible college, and I was very passionate about it when I was an evangelical fundamentalist Christian. I was unable to see how flawed these arguments were, and how ineffective they were when presented to someone who doesn’t already believe that the Christian God may or does exist. Now, on the other side, I can understand how they appear to non-believers.

Christians: What single apologetics argument do you think is the most accurate/most effective at converting non-believers and why?

Non-Believers: What is the fundamentalist mainstream apologetics argument that you like/dislike/ hear about the most? Do you find it offensive, ridiculous, simply not effective, and why?

Leave a comment!

Keep it respectful, folks. We can and should question and criticize ideas, but NEVER criticise, ridicule, or attack the person holding the ideas. Attacking someone’s character or motives instead of factually answering the argument itself is a logical fallacy and is also very rude. Please also keep in mind that someone challenging your beliefs is not attacking you personally, but rather they are challenging an idea and belief system that you happen to believe in. That goes for everyone. 

(Quote from: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/godlessindixie/2014/11/20/the-motive-of-the-questioner/)

Youth Group Observation

Youth Group Observation

Recently I was sitting in a little diner located in a tiny town in Washington State. Our power had gone out, so I was taking advantage of the free WiFi and a massive plate of chili cheese fries. As I worked online via my laptop, a group of teenagers came in. They were excitedly chatting, and the adult woman with them was asking what kind of pizza they wanted (gluten free apparently). Before long they were sitting at one of the double booths for what turned out to be their midweek Bible study. Although I wasn’t trying to eavesdrop, it was impossible to not overhear their conversations, since they did opt to have this meeting in a very public place and sit right across from me.

I regularly went to several youth groups growing up, and at the time I loved them. I was also a youth pastor myself back in the day. But now I’m seeing this situation from a very different perspective. Here are the thoughts that came to mind as I discretely observed the event.

1. The whole point of the meeting was indoctrination. Sure, it also involved social interaction and some good life advice about how to study for tests in school, but the main focus was to corral these teens’ minds into “correct belief”. The youth leader emphatically told them what truth was and discouraged doubt. She did so in a very amiable, down to earth way, and was doing her best to be “relatable” to the teens so they would more easily absorb her message. Instead of teaching them HOW to think about these very important issues, she (and most religious leaders) was putting all of her energy and knowledge into pushing HER idea of truth and reality onto these young, impressionable minds. Instead of showing them how to find out the truth for themselves, she told them that she already knew what truth was, and there was no way it could be wrong.

2. Kids and teens need fun and social interaction. That’s why they love youth groups. Many youth also crave the attention, affection, and approval of an adult authority figure, such as a youth leader. Youth groups specifically target these needs and blatantly exploit them to more easily indoctrinate children and teens with a specific religious ideology. I now view youth groups and Sunday School with skepticism and suspicion, because I was heavily involved with them growing up and I know exactly what the motivations of the leaders are.

3. Would this woman, or any other youth leader, have spent the same amount of time and energy with these kids if religious indoctrination wasn’t their primary goal? Would they have cared to take the time to get to know these kids and help them through life issues if their religion didn’t tell them to proselytize to boost the ranks of the Faithful and save others from hell? I wonder, where are the adults who will give their time and devotion to teens without any expectation of reward (i.e. conversion)? The message in that group, although inviting and laid back, was clear: You need to be a Christian. If you’re not a Christian, we will lovingly peer pressure you into becoming one. If you are a Christian, then you need to make your faith even stronger, squelch any doubts, and get your friends to become Christians too.

I met one of these teen girls afterwards. She noticed me working on my laptop and asked me if I was writing a novel. We had a lovely conversation about following your dreams, even when it’s hard work, because it’s possible to have the kind of life you dream about. She was a science minded individual who found my freelancing career and upcoming school plans very inspiring. Although we didn’t really talk about faith or God, she did ask what I’d gone to college for and I said it was a Bible college but I wasn’t religious anymore. I hope that seeing a successful person living her dream without religion will cause her to think about her own faith. Let’s be clear- I don’t really care if she believes in God. I had no intention of forcing my own beliefs on her. I DO care about her being indoctrinated by adults she trusts to tell her the truth about life, instead of being taught how to make her OWN opinions about faith and the supernatural. My hope for her is that she thinks for herself, whether that means she stays a Christian or finds another explanation of life that makes more sense to her.

I’m not saying youth groups are all inherently evil, or that this youth leader was a terrible person. Having been a youth leader myself, I know that she likely cares very much for these teens and has the best of intentions. However, many people do damaging or wrong things with the best of intentions… the intentions themselves are not nearly enough. Sometimes our intentions are misguided.

If what you teach is truth and that truth can be discovered without the aid of a human teacher, if God is able to reveal himself to anyone, then teaching children and teens to think for themselves should not be something you’re afraid of.