Editor’s Note: Here’s an opportunity to experience the joy of a recent Clergy Project member who feels freed from the bondage of belief. Thanks to Mason Lane for referring her to the blog.
By “Janelle London”
“I was raised up believing I was somehow unique, like a snowflake distinct among snowflakes, unique in each way you can see. And now after some thinking I’d say I’d rather be, a functioning cog in some great machinery serving something beyond me” Helplessness Blues – Fleet Foxes
Oh how things have changed.
You are not your own. You were bought with a price.
To live is Christ; to die is gain.
I have been crucified with Christ, it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me.
Phrases I once built my life upon. Not so anymore. Today, I belong to no one, and that is the relief of a lifetime. These words once embedded deep inside of me were strategically written so I might forget my own intuition, power, and volition. Offering my life to a void, which promised all and nothing simultaneously. Heaven or hell. Black or white. Saved or damned. Choose life or choose death. Nothing in between. But I secretly knew all along I fell somewhere within the endless expanse of gray.
Only now am I beginning to recognize who I really am, independent from attempting to pattern my life after an antiquated biblical character and his magical book. As I move closer to the surface after being submerged in the muck of godly womanhood, I see my life for what it was, and I understand now that everything I believed to be god has a perfectly rational explanation. I think about all the weird, borderline neurotic things I did out of faith.
I once scanned credits and dedications in books and CDs to be assured the author or artist I was ingesting was worshipping the same Jesus I was. Even a snippet of a Psalm within a lyric was enough to keep a song on my approved playlist. Today, I am disappointed when I find myself drawn to a particular piece of literature and stumble across a resounding proclamation of faith. At that point for me, all credibility is then shot to hell. Similar to finding a typo in a peer-reviewed journal, I find I cannot trust the integrity of this person due to the ulterior motive I know to be lingering below the surface. Perhaps the title of the piece isn’t Turn or Burn, but every note is tainted by this disgusting doctrine, which disguises itself underneath a feathery Chris-Tomlin voice.
Even now I choke on these words. You see, five minutes ago, it was I who believed this manipulation was in fact saving the world on a grand scale.
I used to purposely read my Bible on airplanes in the hopes that god would orchestrate a magical conversion type situation where I would not only bring hope to someone who was facing an abysmal existence without a personal relationship with Jesus, but also have the gratification of knowing my hands and feet were significant enough to be used by Mr. Magic himself. My heart would flutter as I turned each page, clandestinely skipping over some of the more risky content in 1 and 2nd Thessalonians. In reality, most folks who acknowledged me were already Christians and gave me a slight tip of the hat for my efforts. And I ate it up. I felt purposeful. Worthy. Saved. I knew who I was. Or did I? My world was small, but I was convinced that god had me on a whirlwind and worldwide adventure, never knowing whom I would meet or how he would use me to change the world and break hearts to be filled by him.Here on the other side, I see the truth of it all. One of the many reasons you are reading this blog right now: The Christian god is a monster. The Bible tells me so.
Against my better judgment, I recently watched Fifty Shades of Grey just to see what all the fuss was about. I kept watching in horror as this soulless man coerced and enticed a vulnerable unwitting young woman into an abusive relationship. I cannot help but see some disgusting parallels between this grotesque work of misogynistic trash and the Bible.
For those who haven’t seen the movie, Christian Grey decides Anastasia Steele is a sexy, subdued, prime candidate to be his submissive. The rest of the movie entails his pursuit of what he wants and he single-mindedly ropes her in. Christians and god have these few things in common:
- He gives a contract with innumerable terms of agreement.
- She is never allowed a real relationship with him, only intimacy in the way he desires from her.
- She can never truly know him, and he delights in being elusive.
- He promises her that the pain she feels now will one day turn into pleasure.
- He never says he loves her.
- She’s afraid of him, yet in awe of the power he has over her.
I believe all of this to not only be reprehensible, but dangerous. I once tried to introduce this monster to preschoolers, complete with Popsicle stick crucifixes for a take-home lesson. On this end of my life, I will live my apology by seeking truth and walking with others as they seek it.
In my former life, I was never authentic. Just a manufactured version of the person I was told I should be, attempting to be recreated by supernatural means into a chaste, subservient, self-loathing, tithing and evangelical Sunday-school-marm-machine. Told I was helpless, yet reliant on an all-powerful vapor. Always keeping myself in check and toeing the line. Even if I had the urge to be honest about exploring the world outside my Proverbs 31 approved cell, it was quickly squelched for fear my deviance might be discovered. Alanis Morissette says it best in her song Forgiven:
“We all needed something to cling to. So we did.”
My chains are gone now. The real beauty is that they never existed. My slate is clean and I am building a new life from the bottom up. I belong to myself and now that I know that, I am simultaneously terrified and elated. The world is an enormous adventure and mine for the taking. No need to ask permission, the only creator here is me.
The reason I am even on this blog today is because of other brave souls who allowed me to read their stories of deconversion. I am here to listen and be a support for you too. Please reach out, and I’m not just saying that in a small group Bible-study leadery way. Best to you, wherever you may find yourself today.
Bio: “Janelle London”is a former Bible studies teacher who began her decent from madness in 2013 and continues to embrace her new life as a freethinking secular humanist. She is dedicated to exploring this world with new eyes and a heart for those brave enough to step out in their own truth.
>>>>>Photo Credits: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b0/Gutenberg_Bible.jpg