Why don’t I talk much about religion?

If you express certain views, especially about religion, it can really rock someone else’s world. Politics can be the same way.

I remember when I lived in Alabama for a year. I can’t say it was my favorite state.

So I’m 16 and in high school and this classmate of mine asks me what religion we are. I tell her we are Episcopalian and my Dad is Atheist. I always respected that my Dad had his own beliefs.

I think once the methodist minister had an extramarital affair and then ran off with his young mistress in the dead of night, leaving his wife and two children, my Dad just shut down on religion. That happened in his church when he was a young boy and that was it for him.

I did’t tell this classmate, Andrea, about the minister story, she just hears “atheist.” Her face turns red and she tells me resolutely that my Dad will burn in hell for being an atheist and proceeds to give me the a passionate description of hell that sounded like it was from a Hollywood movie, complete with all-consuming flames, hell and damnation. She all but grew horns she was so mad as her heavily sprayed curled hair shook stiffly as she raged.

Andrea was the most popular girl in school. Besides that, she had the trophy handsome boyfriend and they were the power couple. Her entire identity was wrapped in having the status relationship. At that moment, I thought she was bat-shit crazy and instead of being hurt, it was all I could do not to laugh out loud at the pagan, fire and brimstone scene she painted.

I wanted to say, “Are you serious? How old are you, 3?” But I didn’t. I had no desire to rock her simplistic, rigid world. I knew I was not going to talk this zealot into a reasonable conversation on religious beliefs.

Since then, I simply don’t discuss religion in any depth with others. My beliefs. Or my skepticism. I simply don’t find I have to have my beliefs validated or confirmed by someone else.

I don’t think God is some being that runs around deciding whose prayers to answer and mine just weren’t good enough. I don’t see him as some all-mighty white guy with a beard.

I learned a long time ago to pray for the strength to deal with what comes my way. That’s something I have to pull from within. Piousness does not win you points in heaven in terms of getting your wishes. And I don’t think God inspired Charles’ hanging to “test my faith” or that he’s in “a better place.”

It just drives me crazy when religion is used to veil prejudices and to feign superiority over other human beings because you believe it will give you a promotion on earth, or secures you a place in heaven.

Charles’ suicide happened. And it just is. I can’t change it.

I do admire those who are strong in their faith, no matter what it is. And I understand that faith can help heal a broken soul, can enrich a life and and even prevent people from killing themselves. It can inspire people to do great things, give outside of themselves and bring a community of people together.

I also understand that some people are angry with God when they lose a child to suicide or overdose. Or from any cause at all. Charles was “mad at God” for making him suffer from depression. I wasn’t aware of it but I would not have invalidated those feelings.

I simply think tolerance and respect of other’s beliefs is important. It’s one of the few things I’m very private about and I am quite content with it that way.

Dear Charles. My letter to heaven

13 thoughts on “Why don’t I talk much about religion?”

  1. Robert, with all do respect, whether it’s 7 or 5, the bible does send the message that suicide is murder of one’s self, which is obviously a sin. “My times are in your hands” (Psalm 31:15) and “God is the giver of life. He gives, and He takes away” (Job 1:21) there are other examples, but it out right says to choose to end your time before God does is going against the will of God. You are right that the bible doesn’t out right comdemn taking ones own life, but the obvious language in verses suggest that by taking one’s life you are committing murder which is a sin in the eyes of the Lord. The problem is you’ve gotta call bullshit for what it is. It’s the same reason it’s offensive to say someone committed suicide as opposed to died by suicide. The very definition of commit is to carry out or perpetrate a mistake, crime, or immoral act. By saying someone committed suicide you’re saying they did something wrong. Yet those who have never been affected, even myself before I was, go around saying commit suicide. The fact that every person who took their lives in the bible were considered “wicked in the eyes of the Lord” doesn’t send a very welcoming message. I’m not going to judge anyone on their beliefs but one thing that pisses me off beyond belief is when people verse jump to justify there own beliefs. People need to read the bible line for line. I have had several “Christians” since my Dad died tell me he would be going to hell. The only way the stigma will end is if people call bullshit for what is.

    1. Jon, I do understand your position, probably something of a majority opinion within the genre of Christian religion. If it makes you comfortable with yourself, live with it. But I suggest that you don’t use it as ‘information’ that others should follow without serious analysis and contemplation. Life is far more complicated than pulling misapplied verses out of scripture (any scripture), and offering them up as something to build a life on. Take care, intellectually and otherwise. My whole point of commenting is that YHWH did not condemn anyone who chose self-death, and we should be as non-judgmental as individuals, and as society, as we believe YHWH (God) to be [The term ‘God’ has many uses and many meanings]. It is mercy and grace and compassion, not judgment, that is required for those who leave us by their own hands, and for those who are left. I will not comment further, for I don’t think the purpose of this blog is to engage in conflict, but to speak Truth to reality as best we know without belaboring our private points of view. I don’t require anyone to agree with me. Each can consider and draw their own conclusions. I am sorry about your Dad and your consequence of becoming a survivor. Peace.

  2. Beautiful and poignant, Anne Moss. Thank you for sharing your heart with us. I often hesitate to say “I’ll be praying for you…” to someone out of fear of offending. But I’ve decided that it is something I can do–from a distance, without imposing on anyone, being true to my own faith system and hopefully for good. My hope is that when I do say that I am praying it is taken as it is intended–an expression of love from my perspective. I would hope that if it did offend, the person would tell me. That would be the last thing I would want to do! It’s a balance, and a tough one at that. No one appreciates the suffocating zealot…

  3. There are seven reports of suicide in the Bible, none of which include any condemnation of the choice made. Across the centuries after the original writings, writers of various traditions have laid groundwork for self-death being a negative act in the sight of God, but that is the expression of a human being, not of God. The sentiment of this blog is correct, in my view, and is the better position to take when interacting with others, respecting their approach to their own understanding. Ours is not to judge, but to support with compassion (compassion is different from empathy; empathy is to ‘feel with’, and compassion is to ‘feel with and help do something about it’).

  4. Wow! Yes – a touchy subject for sure. Not all ‘Believers’ are cruel judgemental ppl. Some with ‘religion’ use it for their own purposes. I’m sure it makes God cringe. For me it’s relationship with Him. I know Him, and I know His heart through my 27 yrs of knowing Him. Didn’t go to church until I was 30. Can’t hardly stand to go to church today due to the ppl. But still…. I love Him. Because I know Him! I’m not pushy, judgemental or inclusive and neither is He! But I also know where others are coming from – honest ppl with honest questions. I understand and no judgement here! 😘

  5. This was an interesting read. I started questioning where I stood with religion after I lost my Dad. You and I have very similar views on what God is. I just didn’t like how suicide was presented in the bible. The 5 mentions of sucide in the bible were the “villains” of the story that in the end lost their lives to suicide. I thought that whole way of looking at suicide was bullshit. It made it seem like if you lost your life to suicide then you must be evil like Judas and Saul. The other issue I had with it was in Psalm it made it seem like if you lost your life to suicide you were essentially giving God the middle finger. I will never judge someone else on their beliefs. It was just hard for me after losing my Dad not to have an existential crisis when it came to religion. Thanks for touching on this subject.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *