Can Christianity Cause Stupidity? (Days 36-42 of Quitting the Bible)

Can Christianity Cause Stupidity? (Days 36-42 of Quitting the Bible) August 13, 2018
Photo Credit: Barn Images (Pixabay)

Last week, I spent much time saying stupid prayers.

During days 36-42 of quitting the Bible, I shared an article on social media about a pastor attributing fires in California to God’s judgment on gay people.

Understandably, people felt saddened to outraged, and the comments that deemed such reasoning as  “stupid” or “dumb” really stood out to me.

I believe the people who mentioned the stupidity of such Biblical perspectives made accurate points in their observations.

We can get so stuck in religion that we become, as the saying goes, “stuck on stupid.”

A Dumb Spirit and a Stupid Prayer

Is it possible that religiously stuck behavior is actually, according the Biblical accounts, the dumb spirit that Jesus cast out of folks?

(See what clear revelations happen when we put down our Bibles? And to think some of  my friends were concerned.)

Anyway, I reflected much on times I had become “stuck on stupid” in religion and times I had been freed from this dumb spirit.

Lawd knows, I have stories.

I have found that the most simple prayers can be extremely powerful.

At times, crying out “Help!” has moved symbolic mountains in my life.

Last week, I added a few more words:

“Help me not to be stuck on stupid.”

This is one of my desires.

It is a prayer.

I kept praying for God to continue to reveal the ways I am unknowingly “stuck on stupid.”

I did not and do not want to be so heavenly smart that I am humanly dumb.

To be so spiritually intelligent that it misses the heart of God would seem tragically stupid.

Our spiritual knowledge can puff us up with the kind of pride that renders us unteachable.

Yes, it is a prayer:

Lord, help me not to be stuck on stupid.

Amen.

The Cost of Stupidity

The costs of religious stuck on stupid living concern me.

This condition can hurt others in material, emotional, and spiritual ways.

In extreme cases, people have and still kill in the name of God (the buck does not stops at the Christian religion).

Whenever we unquestioningly trust religious leaders and texts with the sole answer and “the truth,” we make ourselves more susceptible to getting stuck on religion more than God.

For example, we might accept church systems that promote a lack of questioning as a sign of faith.

We might blindly trust a supposed literal interpretation of a carefully culturally crafted religious text as if God directly wrote it automatically through human vessels.

To dare consider any other view, according to “the truth,” would endanger our souls, so masses of us let this distorted view of faith cloud our God-given thinking.

Others might mistake our looming concerns of “losing salvation” or not pleasing God as reverence and honoring God because of “the Bible.”

I conclude that a religious system structured around the unholy trinity of doubt, fear, and blind loyalty makes it difficult to break free from religious indoctrination.

Church folks have performed such a good job at promoting and policing each other with fear, that I think the devil has gone on an ice-fishing holiday.

I am growing tired. No, I am growing tye-yard of religious fear and hate disguised as the love of God.

I want you to know that God’s love is not fear.

It does not matter what scriptures someone pulls out to try to keep you locked in guilt, shame, fear, and doubt in effort to “help” you or show you “the way.”

God’s love extends beyond our best metaphorical and literal interpretations.

It is perfect love.

God’s love is the most beautifully freeing love you can ever experience.

Closing: Thou Shalt Not Be Stupid

Like last week, I can feel deeply bothered by how insidious indoctrination happens in the church because the gross mischaracterization of God’s love has a far-reaching impact.

Typically, during these moments, I consider how there is probably some kind of mischaracterization of God’s love evident in my life.

This knowing does not justify religious stupidity, but it helps keep my righteous indignation from evolving into self-righteous judgment.

Although I can look back at ways my religiosity has been textbook “stuck on stupid,” I feel thankful that God sent people across my path to plant seeds or water them.

I thank God for people’s mercy for the ways my religiousness caused more separation than closeness.

I feel thankful that I am not clinging to the Bible as an idol, for God is beyond what King James authorized.

If memory serves me right, somewhere in the apocryphal literature in the book of Chile, Please, there is a commandment of “Thou shalt not be stupid.”

Like any commandment, I realize that it takes a Higher Power to live this spiritual life.

No wonder Christ kept it profoundly simple and real: Love.

I have yet to love to the same degree as Christ every day.

Therefore, I do not have time for using the Bible as a handbook on various ways to hate as a show of God’s love.

If we focus on love, this work, alone, will keep us busy for the rest of our lives.

Three Points of Wisdom from Days 36-42

1. God’s love frees us and does not rely on guilt, shame and fear to coerce us into blind devotion.

2. God loves when we use our God-given brains. We do not need to check our thinking outside the church doors to have faith.

3. Most, if not all, of us have blind spots in our lives, where we are “stuck.” Throughout our lives, people and situations plant and water seeds that help us get unstuck.

 

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Al Cruise

    Certain forms of it , fundamentalism and conservative, among-st others, can definitely cause mental illness, most commonly depression. Severe anxiety is also a common mental illness that occurs when one leaves to deconstruct from these forms of Christianity.

  • Iain Lovejoy

    If this (Edit for clarity = Wideran’s horrid little comments) still shocks you, you must have been living in a very deep dark cave for the last couple of decades, with you’re eyes tight shut, your hands over your ears and humming. This (edit for clarity = Widuran again), sadly, is what passes for “Christianity” in so many Christians nowadays.
    (Edit: I am not sure what some people are making of this comment, so I have clarified as above.)

  • This kind of hate speech even towards those in the family of God, is what is inspiring some to walk away from the churches. I see you and I am sad for you.

  • Stevee

    It is sad to see so much judgement.
    The very thing Jesus asks us not to do.

  • Dr. Sam Kline

    Temporary message: I have deleted a comment (and corresponding thread), involving an individual using hate language to another commenter. This blog is LGBTQ affirming. Therefore, trolling is unacceptable here, even if it is done for the sake of Jesus, which “maketh no senseth” (Book of Not Today: 3:16 KJV). Much love and God bless!

  • I totally agree with your 3 take-away point. I started 50 years ago in an extreme fundamental church but left after 10 years. They were all good people, very sincere but allowing someone else to do the thinking for them.
    Christianity is beautiful when you go with the optimism of Jesus. I have been happy beyond belief for the last 40 plus years. I hope others can find the true jewel in Jesus’ teaching.

  • Dr. Sam Kline

    Thank you for sharing part of your testimony of your journey in Christ, Paul. What shifted/changed for you during the 10 years? That is, did notice this issue of allowing someone else to do the thinking in the beginning or did it become clearer closer to the end?

  • Iain Lovejoy

    Please read what people say carefully. I am saddened by Widuran’s horrid little posts, but no longer shocked or surprised because he, Wideran, is what great chunks of Christianity has become in recent decades, and I can’t see how you haven’t noticed. Widuran and his shrill kind are all over the place nowadays and are unfortunately the current public face of Christianity for nonbelievers.

  • You forgot Liberalism and Progressive Thought.

  • Al Cruise

    Typical ad hominem response.

  • Mr. Lovejoy, years ago I contributed to online discussion more than I now do. Loved thoughtful discussion. The hate speech was not as prevalent and not as profoundly dark as it is today. For the past several years I have been very busy serving in my churches, nose deep in the Bible and resource books, having wonderful meetings discussing life and the Bible. I do not have my eyes closed and I don’t stick my fingers in my ears humming. I live in a beautiful island and talk as openly as I can without offending people who are growing in their understanding. My observation is that there are small chunks of people who behave like Wilderman but they make a lot of noise. I suspect that those who listen to them a lot tend to get a bit crusty themselves, but don’t realize it.

  • It has been my observation as well that fundamentalism has become so authority and legal minded that they find it necessary to discourage people from doing their own research. Even asking too many questions is problematic. This is one way to discourage people from thinking for themselves. Is it OK to ask you what church you settled in. I also had to walk away from a church that became entrenched with fundamentalism and found freedom and a wonderful openness to discuss pretty much everything in a culturally diverse United Methodist Church.

  • Iain Lovejoy

    I take your point, consider me admonished.

  • Your welcome….

  • I am impressed. 🙂

  • Barros Serrano

    What nonsense.

    Progressive thought… well, at least that isn’t an oxymoron like “conservative thought”.

    Yeah, I want everyone in the U$A to have access to healthcare, so I must be “stupid”.

    Your brainwashed connedservative ilk are the single greatest threat to freedom and democracy in this country currently.

  • Barros Serrano

    It would seem that the stupidity is not in the Bible, per se, but in the Christianity of narrow-minded doctrinaire dogmatists!

  • Why do you want everyone in America to have access to Healthcare? They already do. Do you wish to pay more taxes to support a higher level of service? I don’t.

    At the moment we have a two tier system of Justice. And a Democrat threat to destroy the Presidency because they lost an election. Hello! Threat in action

  • Barros Serrano

    No, everyone does not have access to healthcare, and even more did not before the ACA. That is fact. Going to the emergency room won’t get you in to see a specialist.

    So.. you would choose a few dollars less in taxes to let some people die, rather than having to pay to save them. Thanks for confirming my opinion that Republicans are mostly amoral and soulless.

    2-tier system of justice in this country we do indeed have: one for the rich, one for the not-rich.

    That’s why OJ walked… wealth. That’s why the prisons are packed with low-level non-violent drug offenders, mostly not white.

  • Yes I am a conservative citizen of this great country. My beliefs disagree with most of your beliefs. But that does make me bad only different from you. There are more of us than there are of you which is why we won the election and thank God we did.

  • Barros Serrano

    No there are not more of you. How then did Obama win?

    Conservativism today is a misguided philosophy by which you’re duped into supporting corporate hegemony by slick propagandists who convince you that the GOP represents christianity and family values. It does not; it is nothing but a service agency for corporate interests.

    You vote for reprehensible policies. As such you really do not qualify as a “citizen”, but you do qualify as traitor.

    Cutting people’s medical access? Trashing the earth for profit? Ignoring women’s rights? Supporting racism and misogyny from nearly every Republican in office? Putting children in cages for seeking asylum? That is what you support?

    And a “great” country wouldn’t have people like you picking an Orange Narcissist as President and committing so much malfeasance. Since 1981 you freaks have trashed this country, given the wealth to the top 1% (who are utterly undeserving of it), destroyed the “American dream”, and exacerbated every problem.

    We could make it a great country if such as you would disappear. You’re an albatross about the national neck. YOU are why the U$A sucks. Move to Russia where things will be much more to your liking.

  • Sorry. There are many more conservatives than Progress Liberals. That is how Trump won. Your fake news media leads you to believe that lie.

    Your list of World Ills and Wrongs points right at you. Progressives are Evil and this is on display right now as your Senators are trying to destroy a good man’s reputation and life for the sake of “Baby Killing” by use of any means necessary including the pawn know as Dr. Ford.

  • Barros Serrano

    You are not a very clever liar. You define our side as “Progress Liberals”, a term I’ve never heard… Generally the Democrats are divided into 2 groups: progressives, and liberals. More people are registered Democratic than Republican. And without gerrymandering, most states would have blue state legislatures… here in Virginia we’ve almost taken the legislature even WITH the GOP treasonous gerrymander in place!

    You are evil, boy! Progressives created none of those problems. The world is a mess because of Western corporations and their govts who support them. That is from the West, there are other causes, but they are not voted on by us (e.g., Islam).

    All you can come up with is abortion? The world is a mess because of abortion? LOL!!! you’re about as cogent as Pat Robertson.

    You do know, I presume, that the hurricane in the Carolinas was to punish NC for its GOP gerrymandering and its illegitimate GOP state legislature, right? God is punishing NCians for electing people like Tommy Tucker who blocked reparations payments to the victims of racist genocidal forced sterilizations (once common in NC and VA)

    You better keep quiet, or God will punish YÖUR town with a toxic waste dump explosion which will symbolically represent everything you say.

  • Politics is very contentious today. To call one side a Liar because they don’t agree with your point is a Liberal hallmark and futile.
    Most state legislatures are Republican today because of the eight failed years of Obama; lots of talk with little results. You say you are in the majority but need an excuse for Democrat losses: Gerrymandering is not the reason.
    As to judgment you are hardly in a position to judge as you lack knowledge. And your comment about God is taking His name in vain which has its own penalty reserved for You!

  • Barros Serrano

    Your opening sentence was true but then you jumped right back into the contentiousness. Do you really contend that LIBERALS are liars, relative to conservatives? If you mean politicians, well they all lie so it is indeed a relative matter. Certainly it would be easy to establish that since GOPAC the GOP has been the Party of Lies, the culmination of this tendency manifesting in the current “President”.

    No, you need to examine the facts. State legislators are mostly red due to gerrymandering. Look at the 5th VA District where I live and vote. They put together liberal Charlottesville and the hippies in Nelson Co. with areas FAR to the South, all the way to the NC border, and including Lynchburg (!!! Jerry Falwell country). I asked a local Democratic official when this gerrymander began and she said, “with Patrick Henry! He gerrymandered this District in an attempt to keep Madison out of office!

    Oh please save your Christian scare tactics for the gullible and less intelligent. If Pat Robertson can claim God sends hurricanes because of gays, I can say in response, oh no, it’s due to Republican malfeasance. It’s a joke, get it… lighten up.

    I’m quite sure God is not bothered by my comment, in fact I think I heard a small chuckle from that direction…

    You threatening people with divine retribution is NOT Biblical, do you not grasp this? Judge not… Vengeance is mine, saeth the Lord… and God will not be putting YOU on the jury, I’m quite sure.