What I Don’t Get About Christianity

The comments on my Christmas post are getting to me. I’ll tell you why I’m offended: because I have a close connection with God. I feel God with me in every moment of my life and Christians like Avi do not think that’s possible because they have an exclusive “in” with God. They think they have to pray on my behalf (God: “I was going to send Ambaa to hell for all eternity, but I guess if you say she’s all right, I’ll show her some grace.”) They think that I’m missing out on some profound connection that they have and I don’t. They will never be able to accept that I am already close to God, that my life is filled with grace.

So here are the reasons why I’ve never been able to understand Christianity…

1) So let me get this straight: the rules are that if people screw up, they have to brutally murder an innocent animal. God is omnipotent, so presumably these are his rules. But it’s been changed. Because a couple thousand years ago humans killed a man in one of the most savage manners imaginable  it was enough sacrifice for everyone for all time. What I don’t understand is why a sacrifice was necessary at all. God is only in a forgiving mood when he smells fresh blood?

2) Blind adherence to a book. A book written thousands of years ago by a hodge podge of men with varying political agendas none of whom had met Jesus. A book whose words get twisted to mean whatever anyone wants it to mean. It’s been used to justify love, but also to justify murder, hatred, bigotry, and shunning other human beings. I think it’s a problem when your faith is tied completely to a text. It cannot clarify itself, it cannot flow with circumstances.

3) Instead of actions having natural consequences, which is what karma is based on, you can do whatever you want because Jesus got murdered and that made God okay with forgiving anyone who acknowledges Jesus getting murdered.

4) This God of love and forgiveness is fine with condemning human souls to an eternity in hell because they didn’t do exactly what he wanted. Eternity. That’s a long time. And the way I’m supposed to avoid that is by being submissive and kowtow to a God who seems to have wild mood swings?

This God comes across as petty, childish, manipulative, passive aggressive, and a horrible parent. It is claimed that we have free will, but apparently if we exercise it at all, we are going to hell. God: “Well, you can choose not to bow down to me, sure, I gave you the ability to choose that. Of course, I’m going to burn you alive for all time for it.”

That is not any kind of real God. Real God does not need anything from us because He is complete already. He loves us because creation is love. It is born out of love, it is sustained in love, its reason for being is love. A real God doesn’t need animal or human blood sacrifices in order to love or forgive.  I am not a naughty child hanging my head in front of God. God and I are loving friends who navigate through life happily together.

And I know and have met Christians who don’t focus on Jesus dying as the most important bit. I’ve met Christians who love their religion and love God, but don’t judge (or pray for) me just because I use different language to approach and understand the divine. I don’t understand the Christians who think the most important part of the Jesus story is the bloody murder part. Personally I think the teaching love, forgiveness, and compassion are the parts to focus on. But hey, it’s your religion. Do it however you like, but if you try to judge me and tell me that my religion doesn’t make sense, we are going to have a problem.

Sure there are some Hindus who don’t understand their own religion or don’t practice it in a way that is kind and compassionate. But that’s people. I think we all know that there’s just as many Christians doing a terrible job with the whole love thy neighbor thing. And as a Christian, you distance yourself from those people. So I do not take responsibility for the behavior and belief of every Hindu on the planet. I take responsibility for me. I follow divine joy in the direction it takes me and I’ve never felt the presence of God more strongly than while gazing at the serene face of Nataraja.


*** I feel like the point of this post is getting missed. When I hear people say “Hinduism doesn’t make sense. I’m a Christian, you should be too” what I think is that any religion that isn’t yours or doesn’t feel right for you is going to seem very strange from the outside. Christianity makes very little sense to people who are not Christian or who are not likely to become Christian. There is no doubt that Christianity is not the right religious path for me. Hinduism makes complete sense to me and is absolutely perfect. ***

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About Ambaa Choate

Ambaa is an American woman of European ancestry who is also a practicing Hindu. She is fascinated with questions of philosophy, culture, and the meaning of life. Join her in the journey to explore how a non-Indian convert to Hinduism experiences her religion.

  • Matt Minrath

    In my 47 yrs I’ve never heard it explained so clearly , you are a true follower of Christ .

  • http://www.deafdrummer.org Stephanie Ellison

    The italicized ending? PERFECT! My response to the Christians who don’t get you:

    You see, my experience is free of the three lenses that color your perceptions of your experience.

    1) Language – This affects WHAT you use to communicate with the “head” of your faith.

    2) Religion – This affects HOW you use your language to communicate with the “head” of your faith.

    3) Social rules – This affects HOW you share your religious experience with people around you, through rituals and how you interact with people customarily.

    Basically, a person can be an English-speaking (Language) American (western New-World Social rules) who believes in Yahweh (Religion, in this case a Jewish person).

    My question to the Christian then becomes, “How can I be missing out, if I can experience DIRECTLY what you only experience or perceive through these three lenses of coloration? Can you take those glasses off? Why not? Uh-huh…”

  • http://www.deafdrummer.org Stephanie Ellison

    What if I’m the one who created all this for myself, or that you, I, and others worked together in the ex-mortal (spiritual state) to create this place, because as spirits, we had learned everything, experienced everything, and have been aware with no beginning and no end? We can’t “just simply be,” statically, with no movement. It seems like life on earth as a human is a way to temporarily forget all this knowledge and start over again, experiencing the joys of wonder, surprise, learning something knew, having new experiences, to create all that we have in many different civilizations through endlessly living lives, one after the other, as a way of “keeping us busy.” Perhaps there are people who won’t do the work towards moksha precisely because they want to keep getting these new experiences. It requires, though, some form of memory suppression or dampening during each lifetime; otherwise, what is the point if, at birth, you know what is going to happen next with ISIS’ attempt to install a medieval Caliphate, or you can speak over 100 languages without schooling? You might as well stay in the ex-mortal state and not deal with the rigors and pains of mortal life.

  • bdomcgregor

    Ant- theists give atheists a bad name. What cracks me up about you guys is your almost religious fervor over an absence of faith. And your apostolic mission to get everyone to believe nothing.

  • NDM2014
  • Chante

    I’m 18 years old and so my opinion might not matter to you. I am of Christian faith, but I do not tie myself to any particular denomination. I attend a Jesuit school where we are taught religion in a completely different light. We read God the oldest Question (which is a book I encourage you to read sometime). In this book it was the story of Jesuit priest who, while on his journey through priesthood, began to resent his religion, but at the end discover that he was making the right decision for him. First he tried being an atheist (I tried this too) both he and I discovered that not believing in anything left us with no hope for the future, so at least we started there. I have discovered through reading this book that you and I are more similar than you would think. We are all at the base of the mountain taking different paths, but we will all reach the top together. Hinduism, believe it or not, has helped me deepen my own faith. Through the book and my own research, I discovered that Hindus, such as yourself, view their gods as an “everything in god” rather than a “god in everything” like most western cultures believe. This has helped me see MY God in a new light. When I got to the chapter on Buddhism when they were discussing how they didn’t see objects as solids or distant from us, but rather we are all pockets of energy interacting with each other, this made so much sense for me as a Christian, because I realized that I am not just isolated from everything around me, but interacting with the world and God everyday. I was an active participant in the “good energy” of life.

    I am sorry that Christians have been so horrible to yo. I promise you that we are not all that way. Some of us realize that the closest thing to this great mystery that you and I are both sharing in, but just on different paths, is for us to be tolerant of each and tolerant of the ambiguity of our own religions.

    On the topic of the Bible, I can say that Christian who truly understand there faith are not bound to it.

    The Bible is not a book of facts, there are no facts in the Bible whatsoever; however, the Bible is a book of truths. Like any piece of religious literature, the profit is in the lesson learned, not in the hard details. In fact there are actually many stories that share the same messages and words of wisdom that you also believe in. For example, both our religions stress the importance of being humble individuals, being kind and compassionate individuals, treating others as you would like them to treat you.

    On the issue of a “temperamental God” We Christians have done a great disservice by giving our God human qualities, when God is so beyond our mental capacity. We use these limiting qualities because we can’t even begin to describe him. I personally don’t believe that my God is passive aggressive or demands anything of us. How I see it is that life gives us challenges, but what gets us through them is the hope that things will get better. My hope lies within him. Your hope lies within your gods. The old Testament speaks of God in this way, due to limit in vocabulary and knowledge, to stress the importance that there are consequences to all our actions whether the, consequences are good or bad, similar to your belief on karma (I think, please correct me if I am wrong).

    Again I really am sorry if Christians have offended you in any way. We are not all this way. How I see it, no matter what religion we are all just blind people grappling at an elephant trying to figure out what it is.

    We are in this together. There isn’t much that separates you from me, please trust me.

    Then again I am just a high school student, what do I know anyways. I could be completely wrong. (Every time I feel as if I am one step closer to finally understanding God and then he (she/it/they) allude(s) me yet again, it’s like chasing a horizon line. I just wished that all the religions would see that we are very similar– our core beliefs are the exact same.

    On the topic of Merry Christmas

    I’m sincerely sorry you feel this way, but unfortunately it is a pretty Christian dominated country. When I traveled to a different country I had received their holiday greeting too even though I didn’t celebrate it, but if it makes you feel better even though it’s a Jesuit school we make it a point to have mini parties for Diwali, Saturnalia, Christmas, Ramadan, etc.

    All I want to say is we should be going towards the direction of change, tolerance for one another. There is no use picking the needles out of each others eyes if we have boards right in front of our own faces to fix, right? No religion is perfect, but if we keep working at it together hopefully one day we will get somewhere close, but please, two wrongs really do not make a right.

    • Ambaa

      I am so glad that you are on a path that is bringing you peace and happiness! As much as I struggle with some Christians, I also have many Christian friends and I know it can be a path that fulfills people’s spiritual needs. It doesn’t fill mine, but I am always happy for people who find the path that makes sense to them! :)

  • Zaftiq Gomez

    This is exactly what broke my faith as a child. I used to pray for the devil to be forgiven of his sins, because my interpretation was that no being was beyond forgiveness. I got in so much trouble when my foster mother found out and it struck me as cruel and unfair.

    Anyway, I stumbled across your blog because I am writing a sci-fantasy story with a Hindi main character and got kinda sucked in and am enjoying the read. Hope you are well!

    • Ambaa

      If you need any help with your research, you can get lots of Indian Hindu perspectives by posting questions at my Facebook page!

  • Jimmy Davis

    As a Christian (who is reading your posts because I’m researching Hinduism to better understand it), I would love to discuss this with you. I don’t think blogs like this are the best venue. If you are open to discussing it, please let me know, and we can communicate by e-mail or even phone (assuming you do not live in the greater Houston area).

    You have my word that I will never belittle you, insult you or your faith, and will engage in civil discussion, sharing of information, asking and answering questions, always with respect. I only ask for the same in return.

    • Ambaa

      Thank you for the offer. At this point in my life I am not really interested in such a discussion. I’ve had many wonderful Christian friends in my life and spent many, many hours discussing and considering. Christianity is simply not for me but I’m glad for the peace and joy that it brings to so many people.

      • Jimmy Davis

        That’s too bad. It started out seeming as if you truly didn’t understand these things and was perhaps seeking to get them answered.

        However, based on your reply to an invitation to have a respectful dialogue, it appears that this post was really just you trashing Christianity. You say you don’t understand, and when someone offers to help you understand, you say no thanks. Of course, I guess if you believe you’re god you wouldn’t want to engage in it – you already know everything.

        • Ambaa

          As I said to another commenter, the post is really to show that any religion looks odd from an outside perspective. While Hinduism looks strange and exotic to many people in America, Christianity can also look that way to non-Christians.

          These are the things that I have truly never been able to understand despite YEARS of discussion, Bible Study small groups, Christian retreats, etc.

          I gave Christianity the very fairest chance I possibly could and I know for certain that it is not the right path for me. That’s not trashing it, that’s just pointing out that it does not work for every human being.

  • Ambaa

    I always wonder what is actually wrong with idol worship? I don’t see why it’s a problem.

  • Ch Billy

    Hinduism specifically says to clear the minds of skeptics like you that Truth is one but there are multiple paths to it. Agreed that it does not mean every path is correct but there are multiple paths. There is a verse from Rig Veda that will shock you :

    “Who really knows?
    Who will here proclaim it?
    Whence was it produced? Whence is this creation?
    Did the gods come afterwards, with the creation of this universe?
    Who then knows whence it has arisen?” — Rig Veda

    This is the seeker skepticism you are looking for and here you find it in a so called organized religion.

    Hinduism is as honest as a religion can get. Period. If a bunch of Hindus give you ridiculous instructions, blame them and not Hinduism. I wish to repeat what Gandhi said to the Christians: “Condemn the sin and not the sinner”.