Why The Bible is Wrong About Loving Our Neighbors

Why The Bible is Wrong About Loving Our Neighbors December 17, 2018

 

As a child, anytime I hurt myself in any way, my devout Catholic grandmother would look at me and say, “God Punished You.” I can’t tell you how many times I heard that phrase in my life. The words seared into my brain. As a child, I felt terrified by God’s power, and I didn’t want to upset him. In fact, I didn’t want to hurt anyone. I wanted everyone to like me, and I wanted to love everyone.

Naturally, when my teacher in catechism class taught me the importance of kindness to all people and “Loving people like myself,” I took the words seriously. However, not until recently did I realize not only the lie of God, but also the lie of “loving everyone.”

As I look back on my adolescence, the permeating feeling I get is a deep sense of insecurity. My mom always tells me that as a two-year-old I had a lot of opinions. In fact, she says I was the most important two year she ever knew.

Truthfully, I don’t think it’s that I have a lot of opinions. Instead, I believe I am a thinker and try genuinely to understand the world around me. Also, I have ADHD, and my brain doesn’t process the world in the same way as most people. For me to engage with others, I find myself overloaded by the sensory experience.

I have trouble understanding social constructs. Over the year I’ve noticed people want to have “Groups” of friends, but groups of anything give me anxiety. Groups have rules and expectations that I’ve never been able to grasp. They also feel constricting and suffocating to me.

Biting my tongue has never been my strong suit. While other people can stand still and watch injustice, I cannot tolerate any level of prejudice or bigotry. Often I voice unpopular opinions, which can further isolate me from friendships. I had trouble maintaining friendships. I always felt like I was disappointing God when someone didn’t like me for something I said or for my actions.

As I entered adulthood, I became a loner. By the time I entered my mid-twenties, I knew that groups were not for me. I became a workaholic because at work I felt the best about myself. My employers always praised my work-ethic, intelligence, and my ability to adapt to change. My insatiable need to be liked by everyone was satisfied by becoming the perfect employee. In the business world, I thrived, but I still had little happiness in my life.

My relationships with men were deeply flawed. Since I learned at a young age to like everyone, I desperately wanted to please all of my partners. My boyfriends found me easy to manipulate, control, and abuse in whatever way they saw fit. Like a docile Doe batting her eyes, I never wanted to upset any of them. When I did speak up, there were verbal and physical fights. I learned quickly to embrace a passive role.

By my late twenties, I got sick and tired of feeling crappy all the time. I knew my life was moving in the wrong direction, and I sought professional help. For over a year, I worked with a psychologist to deconstruct my life. She taught me to identify red flags in relationships. One of the most important lessons she taught me was I didn’t need to like everyone.

We worked through my insecurities regarding my need for acceptance. My therapist taught me that it is impossible to like everyone. Additionally, she reminded me that not everyone was going to love me. The concept may seem simple to many, but took me years to comprehend. My religious upbringing taught me that this was false. To accept the truth of my psychologist, I had to let go of the lies my religion taught me as a child.

I’ll never forget the freedom I felt when I finally let go of the chains of guilt wrapped around my ankles. For the first time in my life, someone permitted me not to like someone. It may seem simple to most, but my entire life I felt like God was going to punish me if I disobeyed his rules. Everything wrong in my life, I attributed to his displeasure with my choices. My entire life I tried to please a God that didn’t exist, and I destroyed my self-worth and confidence.

When I let all of the lies and deceit go, I became free to be my own person. I embraced my feisty attitude and stopped being mousey and submissive in relationships. In fact, I met my husband, and he welcomed every part of my personality. He encouraged me to have opinions, to be strong, to advocate, and to be ok in my skin.

Stripping away the lies of my faith, enabled me to step away from toxic friendships. I realized I didn’t have to keep people in my life that caused me immense suffering. For a few years, there was a mass exodus of people in my life. However, I had a lot of house cleaning that needed to be done. By the time I finished, I didn’t have many friends had left. However, I had incredible happiness knowing that anyone I brought into my life would be my choice.

Christianity and the Bible lie to us when they tell us we must love everyone. There is no possible way to like everyone given all the opinions, personalities, and lifestyles people have in this world. We aren’t all going to get along. However, the most important lesson I learned is we don’t have to be liked by everyone.

If we spend our lives trying to please everyone else, we spend our lives not loving ourselves. We put ourselves in positions where we follow the status quo, so we don’t ruffle any feathers. Many of us bite our tongues, ignore injustice, and stay complacent and complicit. For many of us, it is easier for us to blend in than it is for us to be true to ourselves.

My Catholic upbringing taught me to conform, obey, and submit to the world around me. When I tried to fight what I learned, I was told I would be punished by God. The lasting impact of these teachings destroyed my spirit and individuality.

Breaking free of the chains of faith gave me freedom. I’m ok being ok with who I am. Today I can be authentic and genuine in my convictions. I can be friendly and respectful to others, but I do not have to like them. My world no longer crumbles when someone doesn’t like me.

I realized the Bible and Jesus were wrong about loving everyone. There is no possible way to obey this rule. We don’t need to like everyone to be good people. Our goodness can be demonstrated by how we treat the people we love. We can be kind to strangers and help out our neighbors, but we don’t have to like them.

Most importantly not everyone is worthy of our time. Our time on earth is precious, and time is better spent being around people that make you feel good. There is no reason to hang on to people in your life that hurt, demean, or abuse you.

Some people suck. It’s ok to let them go.

 

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TRENDING AT PATHEOS Nonreligious
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Kevin K

    I’m glad you’ve come out the other side. Sounds like that you had a pretty rough go.

    Thing is, the Good Samaritan parable doesn’t really say you have to love everyone … it says you have to love people who treat you well.
    “Love thy neighbor as thyself” is OT scripture from Leviticus — but they defined “neighbor” as “fellow Jew”. The invention (for lack of a better word) of Christianity was to extend the definition of “neighbor” to mean “anyone who treats you well”. For example, if a Trump supporter treats me with kindness, I’m supposed to reciprocate. That comes with its own set of baggage, of course, but at least it’s not nearly as toxic as the impossible goal of loving everyone.

    FWIW: It’s my understanding that this particular fable is a very late addition/insertion into Luke. If there ever was a “Jesus” (and I’m skeptical), he most certainly never told this particular parable.

    In any event, that’s an historical/theological digression. Don’t want to derail from your main point.

  • Thank you for your thoughts!

  • Priya Lynn

    “Christianity and the Bible lie to us when they tell us we must love everyone”.

    In my experience christians don’t mean “love” in any conventional definition of the word. They claim to love murderers, rapists, bullies, and so on. In particular they claim to “love” people they are trying to coerce into accepting their religious beliefs such as gays they want to stop from having same sex relationships. By “love” they don’t mean that they enjoy being around these people, that they look forward to being with them, that their interactions with them bring them joy. What they mean by “loving” them is that they seek to control them, to dominate them, and to coerce them into living as they as christians think they should.

  • smrnda

    Christianity seems to take things to extremes. It’s not ‘be tolerant of your neighbor’ or ‘respect your neighbor’s boundaries’ it’s love your neighbor . Love my neighbor? I have relatives I don’t love because I barely know them.

  • Totally!

  • Oh, These are really good points! there is a so much coercion

  • Otto

    Very well said. I am a former Catholic as well and of course felt guilty about not liking everyone (along with guilt about many other things). Feeling guilty leads to feeling personally insecure, self doubt, self loathing, etc., it is really insidious. Then on top of all that I have to try and figure out how God ‘loves us all as his children’, but some of his children just have to fry. That created more internal conflict. Christianity sapped more of my self confidence and created more insecurity than I ever knew it did.

    This is my second post I have read on your blog and I want to say ‘well done!’. It is nice to see a blogger here with a specific Catholic background, I have been hoping one would pop up.

  • Otto

    That is not the only word they regularly redefine either, but it is one of the biggies.

  • Thank you so much! I’m new here but not new to blogging. I’ll share more on my catholic upbringing. Guilt was such a factor in my whole upbringing.

  • RichardSRussell

    Here’s a phrase that might well have brightened your day and widened your horizons if some kindly adult had thot to utter it in your presence: “Fuck you, Grandma!”.

  • kerryberger

    Right on! I agree with your piece entirely. You sound well recovered. Live long and prosper.

  • Bob Jase

    Some people suck. It’s ok to let them go.

    ok, heck, its practically mandatory.

  • Bob Jase

    “I have relatives I don’t love because I barely know them.”

    While I have relatives I don’t love because I do know them.

  • Larry Schmidt

    “Some people suck. It’s ok to let them go.”

    Simple and profound. Solid advice.

  • Thank you!

  • OMG that was me with my grandmother

  • Thank you so much!

  • You know – I wish I could have said that at one point in time!

  • Judgeforyourself37

    Love means different things to different people. To give those such as that misinformed grandmother a pass, perhaps she meant “love” as in we are all God’s children and God loves us all, so you can “love” them as they are a child of God, like yourself, but OMG (pun intended) you certainly cannot be expected to like everyone, or even want to have anything to do with them. Some people are hurtful, unkind, selfish, yell at you if you disagree with them and are downright mean, I have met some of these folks, some in my family. I love them, at least those in my family, but sometimes I do not like them.

  • I thank you for your points! Very thoughtful. Unfortunately, my grandmother wasn’t a baking cookies and have a glass of milk kind of grandma. She was mean and verbally abusive. 🙁

  • Charles Winter

    According to the Gospel, Jesus said to love our enemies. I think that is possible, even though we don’t like them and may hate what they do. I know that I loved my father, despite years of physical and psychological abuse.

  • I cannot love my enemies. Not possible.

  • Kevin K

    I think that’s an impossible standard … one of many laid out in the bible.

  • Phil

    “God loves us all” except when you are a child starving to death, or have a worm burrowing inside your eye, or when you are the wrong religion, or……

  • Benjamin Muller

    Some people suck. It’s ok to let them go.

    My grandfather used to caution me “Be careful what bridges you burn”, and I’ve learned that he was right, you shouldn’t torch a relationship over something trivial. But, I’ve also learned that some bridges should absolutely be burned down, the earth where they once stood should be salted, and armed guards should be posted at the site to make sure no one tries to rebuild it.

    The kind of “love” I have for “everyone” stems from the realization that we’re all just evolved creatures, born knowing nothing, being conditioned, with no choice in the matter, by forces stemming from causes that stretch deep into our past, many of them likely before we were even humans. Even the religious jackasses who made my childhood hell, I feel for them. The ignorance, the helplessness they had of being programmed with futility and being unable to stop themselves or change because their religion gave them plastic toy tools for a job that required contractor grade equipment, and neither nature nor nurture provided them with the ability to recognize it.

    There is a love and compassion that this enables that keeps me from acting on my more harsher impulses in the wake of offense and mistreatment, but it’s not enough for me to let the sources of those things, especially when they are chronic and unrepentant, stay in my life.

  • Blanche Quizno

    Terrific post!! Indeed, if we fancy we’re “loving” everyone, we’re in fact loving no one. To say we can or must “love everyone” cheapens and destroys the concept of “love”, rendering it unintelligible. Meaningless.

    Which is why we see so many Christians behaving so obviously hatefully yet insisting they ” love” everyone! To them, hurting others and going out of their way to harm them is “loving” behavior! These Christians are toxic, poisonous, and a menace to society. We would be well rid of them, as they destroy everything they touch.

  • Blanche Quizno

    No. If you do not “like” someone, you do NOT “love” that person. Saying you “love” someone you clearly can’t stand to be around simply illustrates how the word “love” has come completely detached from any real meaning.

    You might as well say that you “klawock” those relatives you don’t like – it has just as much meaning.

    Once people stop trying to sugarcoat their genuine feelings by using words that are utterly divorced from how they actually feel (but allow them to fancy they’re still being virtuous when they’re not at all), we’ll have a lot less hypocrisy in our world.

  • Blanche Quizno

    I’m very sorry you experienced that. I think one reason children love their grandmothers is that, by the time they become grandmothers, most women have mellowed and relaxed and come to appreciate the virtues and benefits of kindness. That your grandmother *didn’t* to any appreciable degree shows that she was so damaged and twisted that she never learned this valuable and life-enhancing knowledge. It’s fair to credit Christianity with her failure to become a kind person – we see that a lot.

  • Blanche Quizno

    No, that’s Stockholm syndrome, in which the helpless victim approaches his/her tormentor with love and approval because the victim believes this will most likely ensure his/her survival. Wake up! You are no longer a helpless child utterly dependent upon vicious, brutal adults for your survival! There is nothing “virtuous” about “loving” a sadistic bully who failed you on every count, who reneged on all his responsibilities as an adult and as a parent. Stop perpetually sacrificing yourself on the altar of filial piety – that was made up to protect cruel parents, you know. No religion says to treat your children with respect and kindness, especially when they’re small – and there’s a good reason for that. Religions always protect those in power. Stop enabling this crime against yourself and humanity in general.

  • Blanche Quizno

    That’s the sensible reaction. To attempt this would result in sacrificing your sense of self and justice, tour definition of “love”, or both. You would thus start identifying with your enemies and unconsciously emulating them. To attempt to live that directive would destroy your humanity. That’s the predictable result of Christianity, which is why it only can spread through violence, bullying, and coercion.

  • Blanche Quizno

    It may be a “specific Catholic background”, but the essence way transcends that narrow definition.

  • Blanche Quizno

    Catholics are known by their guilt, you know.

  • Blanche Quizno

    That’s an excellent analysis – the best I’ve seen yet.

  • Blanche Quizno

    Perhaps consider applying all that understanding and empathy to YOURSELF instead of to your tormentors once.

  • Agreed. I can honestly say – I didn’t love or even like my Grandmother. I didn’t even cry when she died.

  • Chris Allen

    I kind of worked through it this way:

    “Love your neighbor” means “love them in the abstract”: care about the fact that they’re a human being, that they have rights, etc. *as your starting point*.

    It’s like caring that all libraries have books: you’re caring about it in the abstract. If however, you walk into your library and find a book illustrated with photos of child porn and promoting legalization of pedophilia, you’re absolutely fine to loathe it and demand that “This has no place in our library.” There are some things people nearly universally agree upon, and I think that would be one of those things.

    But there are other books in libraries that people disagree as to whether or not they should be there, and we constantly battle about it. It doesn’t mean we don’t love books; it simply means that there are some books we personally just don’t like and choose not to read; some books that we find somewhat objectionable but are willing to tolerate being there because there may be some countervailing benefit to them or because censoring them would be worse… and there are some books that absolutely should NOT be there, period, that we’ll fight about, demand to be removed, raise hell over… and if necessary, quit going to that library and supporting it at all.

    You may approach a random book on the shelf with your love of all books giving you interest in it… but once you start reading it, you find it’s not to your taste at all or worse, is offensive to you. Loving books does NOT require you to read or love that book: you were initially open to loving it as a book, but found the contents weren’t good to you. Or, you may skip it altogether, because you read the title and it wasn’t of interest… but it was your love of books that led you to look at it in the first place, to check and see.

    Toxic people are like toxic books: you aren’t required to like them, love them, read them, support them. There is some latitude between people you will tolerate, people you have no interest in, people who aggravate you, people you choose not to have anything to do with, and people you feel you must actively oppose because their actions and beliefs cause such great harm.

    Now, maybe an all-loving and all-knowing God is capable of loving the most vile person—not for their vileness, but in spite of it, in a mourning kind of way, for what that person could have been and done… like a parent mourning a child they love who became a true monster in their actions. But, we aren’t infinite creatures, nor are we all-powerful or all-knowing. For most of us, it’s a stretch even to try to grasp what infinite love from an infinite being (or beings) would be like. Maybe it’s something like one of us taking that vile book of pedophilia promotion to recycle it into it’s component parts (paper, leather, etc.), and make a new and better book with it once the paper has been chopped and bleached and is ready for new print, instead of just burning it.

    But we humans are finite in our lives, in our power, in what we do. And so I think the call to “love your neighbor as yourself” is a call to approach others with the idea that they are human, with basic rights, and to love and respect them going in the door, on that basis. But, if you walk up to someone and before you can even say a word, they show you that they’re a toxic person, you have every right to walk away, or to oppose them if they’re harming others. And that right continues throughout associations with other people, whether you’ve known them 5 minutes, or 5 years, or all your life.

    The other half of that phrase is “as you love yourself”—and that’s a real problem our society has: as a culture, we have not understood the difference between self-love, and selfishness… and too often, self-love gets *labeled* “selfishness,” when it’s anything but. We have the same right as anyone else to be loved for our humanity, including by our own selves. We have the right to be loved by our self for who and what we are. We have the right to nurture ourselves, to forgive ourselves, to enjoy ourselves, to respect ourselves—and when others don’t grant us that right, we have the right to walk away from them. We have the right to treat ourselves with the same love, compassion, understanding, that we would give our very best friend. We have the right to take care of ourselves, and to not push ourselves beyond our capacity to do things, and to take time to rest and recharge.

    We are not required to carry toxic people. We are not required to put the needs, wants, desires of toxic people above our own; doing so is not being loving to ourselves. We cannot “fix” other people. We can be supportive; we can encourage… but we are not required to keep doing so when we see that the other person is simply being a drain and feeding off us, instead of actually improving how they act, how they treat others, how they treat themselves, how they treat us. People only change because they want to change. We literally have no control over that; we only have control over ourselves, our lives. Our culture often tells us we should “support this person no matter what,” and that’s wrong, because it turns that person into the walker, and turns us into the rug lying there to be walked upon.

    Our culture also gives us a fairy tale in romance of “she/he fell in love with this person and redeemed them.” Nope. People aren’t projects that if you just love them enough, you can, by the strength of your love, force them to become what you want them to be. That’s a manipulative behavior in itself, and it’s also futile: if the person has to be nagged into changing, the change isn’t by their own will, and they will resent and hate it. And that’s not a true change. It’s also an open door to abuse.

    Oddly, we can also love people without liking them very much. This one particularly happens with family: you love them as family and the shared connections of family, but personally you don’t like them. Or maybe, in large or separated families, you don’t really even know them. It’s really more of a “loving of the connection with everyone in the family, maybe due to shared experiences, and/or because you were raised with the idea that family must be loved in some way”… but there’s nothing wrong with not liking family members, or only partly liking them. And if they’re toxic, there’s nothing wrong with cutting them out of your life. Toxic is toxic.

  • Neil Brown

    Christianity doesn’t tell us to “love everyone”, only to “love your neighbour”, and while the internet can make your neighbourhood rather large (for me, it now includes you), it is still well short of “everyone”.
    Christianity certainly doesn’t tell us to “like” those people we are called to love. These are wholly different relationship characteristics, which are unfortunately often confused.
    Christianity gives a clear guideline on what, practically, it means to “love”. To “love” ones neighbour is to do for them what you would have them do for you.
    This is open to some interpretation – If you want someone to kiss you, should you therefore kiss them? Probably not – but it is OK to make mistakes and learn from them. Make sure it is something you want on several levels (do you want a stranger to randomly kiss you?).
    You sound like you are someone who would rather other people just left them alone. If that is the case, you have a fairly clear biblical guidance on how to love other people. Just leave them alone.

  • philliardbmt

    I’m sorry for the faulty religious teaching you had as a child. I’m sorry too for the pain you’ve had to bear as you grew into an adult, probably caused by the aforementioned teaching. I’ve had to deal with a life situation similar to yours in my life, and it’s impossible to describe in words the pain it causes. I would, however, with respect, put forth my take on Jesus’ meaning when he said, “…love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you…” None of that is possible within the confines of your newly-adopted belief system. But I don’t think God meant this to be a face-to-face encounter with our enemies for the logical reasons you mentioned. It’s impossible for both sides. What isn’t impossible, though, is to seek God’s blessing in their lives. What we can’t do, God can if it’s within their ability to accept his blessings. This keeps us from letting hatred make us the same as our enemies. There are situations, many of them, that must be taken to God in prayer, allowing God to handle them at the proper time and in God’s divine way. One of the best suggestions I’ve ever received (and I don’t know from whom) is to see my detractors, enemies, and those I just don’t like as people for whom Christ died. If they are that loved by God, surely I can find a way to love them too.

  • It’s possible to be kind and do great things without god. I can also not spend time worrying about other people. I’d kindly disagree that I’m incapable of loving others without “God”

  • Delane Krause

    Oh so well said. I left the teachings of the Catholic Church at about age 26, to this day I still have problems with the brainwashing they gave me. I am now 53. I had to learn how to respect myself the way I am and to take responsibility for myself. I do not have a “Great He She It in the sky” to forgive my short comings, no I am responsible for that. To think of all the grievances I en flicked upon myself, as a child, in fear of “god’s punishment” and all the children today with the same problem, still makes me cringe.

  • I agree! Indoctrination of children is evil

  • Alexandra

    Most scholars agree that “loving one’s neighbor” was not intended in today’s sense of that word. It entailed being kind to others, helping them, not harming them and not being indifferent to their needs. I think that if we all worked on “loving” others in that sense, we would have a much healthier society. I think that many among us, in the US, are indifferent to the suffering of many others who live here.

    Loving others in the sense that the word is used in the gospels does not entail accepting the obnoxious, unkind or horrible things that some people do.

    I am sorry that your grandmother said such stuff to you. Very likely, that is what she had been told, over and over, and she just repeated what she had heard, without giving any thought at all to what she was saying, r the effect that it had on you. I had nuns in school (way back n the 50s) who used to say such stupid things to me. Luckily, I had parents and a grandmother (no, she was not the cookie-baking kind) who ran interference.

  • Maya Bohnhoff

    Respectfully, if you think the Bible is telling you you have to like everyone, trust them and let them into your inner sanctum, or suffer their abuse you’ve been misinformed.

    I notice you use the words “like” and “love” interchangeably—they’re not interchangeable. Liking has more to do with how the other person treats us than it does about how we treat them. There’s also more than one kind of love, though our poor language only has one word for what other languages have several or even many. The scriptures that tell us to love our fellow human beings (and this includes everything from the Bhagavad Gita to the Dhammapada to the Qur’an to the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, not just the Gospel) do not tell us we must try to like everyone and treat them like a bosom buddy no matter how mean or deceitful or broken they are. We’re not intended to let people abuse us. That’s not loving to either oneself or to the other party. Nor is it just.

    The scriptures tell us we are not to hate people for what they are or are not and that we’re supposed to try to see any good in them, certainly. But we’re asked to love them for the sake of God and a purpose that’s above the purely personal—that being what we contribute to the welfare of our own communities and our species as a collective entity. It’s an impersonal love, by one definition of the word. It doesn’t require the other person to have qualities we like or admire. It requires only that we see in them, as in a mirror, the same spirit that we posses even if it is covered in obscuring dust, and do what we can to help them polish that mirror. There may be nothing we can do close up; there are people we have to limit closeness with and love from a distance. I’ve had them in my life too. Friends who betrayed my trust or revealed themselves to be less than friends. I still love them; I still pray for them and I’d help them if they really needed my help, but my love is realistic; it knows what it can and cannot trust them to do.

    I, too, struggled with the concept of impersonal love (if I may use that term) until I read and pondered the relevant scriptures myself and realized that they didn’t mean I had to love people for qualities they didn’t have, or make myself vulnerable to them in intimate or personal ways as I would a spouse or a child or a lifelong friend. And that, unfortunately is what you apparently tried to do. You’re right; that’s an unreachable goal. It’s also an irrational one. Love of one’s fellow human beings isn’t about gaining their approval or making them like us by yielding to their whims and wishes. I’m so sorry you were taught that it is and it saddens me that you were taught your faith by people who had a poor grasp of the sort of love Christ and the other Teachers of mankind are trying to teach us as we evolve toward being truly human.

    I’m also sorry you abandoned the teaching rather than trying to understand it in a different way than you were taught it. All I can tell you is, what you described in your post is not anything like the love that the scriptures prescribe as the essential remedy for the world’s ills. Reading them in context with other teachings about justice, for example, and through the lens of reason was what allowed me to understand what people of faith—not just Christians—are being asked to do: to be loving and kind even toward those who are less than that to us, but also to insist upon justice where justice is due.

    If you’re not open to that, at least try not to hate. From what I’ve seen hatred does more damage to the hater than to the hated.

  • Cheryl Simon

    My granny was much like yours. And she was a mean control freak!

  • Yep my grandma was not a nice human

  • DDRLSGC

    In my religious school, they taught us to love people who treat you well when it came to the Good Samaritan story.

  • DDRLSGC

    A person who was a Jew told me that Jews invent gulit, Catholics perfected it.

  • philliardbmt

    I can’t remember any kindness or great things you mentioned. Maybe it is possible, and maybe that describes you. But the tenor of your essay is that you don’t love those who don’t or can’t do anything for you. You can’t “spend time worrying about other people”, so one must assume you worry only about yourself. So maybe you are capable of loving others without God, but you don’t seem to do that. Anyway, good luck with your life without God. He loves you anyway, and so must Christians.

  • You are making a lot of assumptions about me based on a 1200 word essay. You are welcome to be here, but being rude to moderators and authors is not prohibited.

  • dhrogers

    I agree that you can’t, and shouldn’t try, to please everyone. However, God is real. He loves us. Jesus and he Bible told the truth. But you can distinguish between loving people for their intrinsic worth and potential and liking them the way they are now. You don’t have to like them the way they are now. You don’t have to like what they do or how they behave. You can care about people, even strangers, without agreeing with them or trying to please them.

  • philliardbmt

    I certainly didn’t intend to be rude. I was disagreeing with your statement as written. Sorry if I offended you.

  • transportjohnny

    Please no need to respond….just food for thought.

    “Truthfully, I don’t think it’s that I have a lot of opinions. Instead, I
    believe I am a thinker and try genuinely to understand the world around
    me. Also, I have ADHD, and my brain doesn’t process the world in the
    same way as most people. For me to engage with others, I find myself
    overloaded by the sensory experience.”

    “Biting my tongue has never been my strong suit. While other people can
    stand still and watch injustice, I cannot tolerate any level of
    prejudice or bigotry. Often I voice unpopular opinions, which can
    further isolate me from friendships. I had trouble maintaining
    friendships. I always felt like I was disappointing God when someone
    didn’t like me for something I said or for my actions.”

    From the article….I like how you block and lock out differing opinions. Your truth is the only truth. What a effing joke. You are cynical and jaded and really you are the one that sounds like a victim. I really do feel sorry for you. Asking questions….Is the very first thing a person should do when weighing a situation…..like vaccinating or whether or not to “love our neighbor”.
    It seem to me that if your perspective is not meshing at all with others….maybe you need a new perspective. There is one common denominator in all of your broken previous relationships…..One guess who that might be?

    Take care of yourself…I am sure there are some people reading this that will be praying for you…..seems to me….I might like to hang with those people as opposed to someone so judgemental. Again, no need to respond…won’t be back to your cynical blathering site.

  • roberto quintas

    christians say “love your neighbor” to bash us better…

  • Odd Jørgensen

    He loves us so much he will burn us for eternity if we don`t love him back. I can just feel the warmth and fuzziness of his love already…

  • Steve Smith

    The author clearly misunderstands Christian doctrine.

    “Additionally, she reminded me that not everyone was going to love me. The concept may seem simple to many, but took me years to comprehend. My religious upbringing taught me that this was false. To accept the truth of my psychologist, I had to let go of the lies my religion taught me as a child.”

    The Bible is clear that enemies in life are normal and therefor nobody will be loved by all. The bible shows that Christ, His prophets, apostles and disciples all were hated by many. The author seems to have the commandment backwards. It is to love all, not to be loved by all.

    “My Catholic upbringing taught me to conform, obey, and submit to the world around me.”

    This is also not taught in the bible. Once again it is the opposite. We are to conform to Christ’s teachings and NOT the teaching of the world. (i.e. seek to perform acts of mercy rather than vengeance (or justice) to those who have done wrong against you.) Much in the Bible actually deals with rebelling against the teachings of the world.

    The author talks about “lies” of her religion. I suppose that if she had been lied to it is about misrepresenting what the Bible actually teaches. This misunderstanding seems to have caused her much grief.

  • Sophotroph

    Look, no. There is no one “Christian doctrine” accepted by all Christians. You can’t just trot out your own positions as if they’re somehow the official version.

    The author talks about the lies of Christianity because that’s what the religion, in all its forms, is based on. The claims made are universally either disproven or unsubstantiated.

    Coming in here imagining you’re going to explain away this woman’s pain as somehow her own fault is so tone-deaf it beggars belief.

    We shall know them by their love, I suppose.

  • Raging Bee

    WHICH god is real? There’s more than one alleged to exist, you know.

  • StevoR

    As Isaac Asimov once noted, (“Lost in non-translation” essay in the ‘Magic’ anthology.) the entire point of the Samaritan parable is totally missed by not understanding who the Samaritans are – or were to the Jews of that ancient Judean / Roman period.

    Also the key word in that parable probly isn’t meant to be “love” but “neighbour” – & the Samaritan was a rare exception vs the majority of religious hugher status hypocrites.

  • Anat

    Np. There were many times I did not like my child, but I always loved him. To me that meant even though I couldn’t stand his behavior to the point it was hard to be in his presence without getting mad (and sad, and disappointed), I always wanted him to find a way to be in a good place in life, I never stopped looking for ways to help him, and the thought of anything bad happening to him was unbearable.

  • Anat

    In Buddhist loving-kindness meditation they seek to love themselves, people close to themselves, and eventually enemies. What they mean by that though isn’t to be buddies with their enemies, but to see them as fully human, with complex personalities and motivations like any other, and to not seek to act towards said enemies out of blind hatred towards what they represent.

  • sophotroph gets me

  • I only love a few people. I like some people, respect some people, don’t like some people, and don’t have an informed opinion of some folks I don’t know well. Christianity gives a false statement about having to love all, forgive all (except for atheists and LBGTQ folks of course).

  • Phil Rimmer

    What an excellent piece. Thank you for it.

    Of course there will be people below (setting Newest) grumping that this need to love all isn’t doctrine. Christians cover the whole spread of interpretations, but that ignores the infantilising pap that a doctrine necessitates whether it is loving all or the hyper-selfish salvation is all that matters. All need to grow up and see its complicated.

    I greatly appreciated the commentary showing how things can’t improve without appropriate and timely challenges to others. A real morality is only got if all engage in the moral discussion and become moral authors, speaking first from their own experience and its challenges.

  • thank you!

  • Raging Bee

    Yeah, right, the Doctrine is perfect and infallible — it’s just all the people who keep on getting it wrong. I used to tell myself the same thing about “True Communism” when I was a teenager. I was wrong then, and you’re just as wrong now, for the same reasons.

  • Steven Watson

    In the West at least we have progressed beyond the Iron Age; but this doesn’t mean we should mispresent it or it’s writings.

    The line in question is “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” If you don’t love yourself, you can hardly love anyone else. Which is what the psychologist was addressing: your own self-worth. The presumption is the teaching’ audience are regular people; not folk with psychological hang-ups who are going to misinterprate what they are hearing or reading. The saying can be derived from a tribal setting in an arid environment: the neighbouring tribe over was usually percieved as the enemy – they were competing for the same limited resources. The commandment counters this, turns it on it’s head, and seeks to build community. There is nothing special or out of the ordinary about it now; but when it was first mooted it represented social progress.

    You can see it as another packaging of the Golden Rule, a re-statement of “Do as you would be done by.” If we all acted towards others as we would have them act towards us, this would be both a individual and a social good, no? Of course we mustn’t forget the reciprocal: if you are not nice to me; don’t expect me to be nice back.

  • Phil Rimmer

    Indoctrination impoverishes thinking, delivering an incomplete set of thinking tools.

    Human kids are born prematurely with only 28% of an adult brain, little grey matter hookup and no white matter hookup at all except for a few fishy bits. (Chimps 50% and much more joined up). Human toddlers are a danger to themselves with this lack of organised grey and white matter, but to compensate they have far more mirror neurons than other primates to exactly copy what they are shown, to better keep them safe. They exhibit a phenomenon educationalists call over-imitation. This means that kids (relatively speaking) do exactly as they’re told even when they are told clearly erroneous things. (Primatologist Victoria Horner showed how young chimps could spot a adult/teacher con when human kids couldn’t.)

    This uber reliable copying, the reason we can have rich culture, means this early learned stuff is adopted and becomes a near permanent fixture. Brains never are this plastic again, indeed they depend on chronotopy, a sequence of plasticity in ascending regions of the brain to lock in stable substrates for each new level of sophistication.

    All education is therefore a form of indoctrination especially in the very young. Teaching only general life skills and critical thinking rather than doctrinaire material of any sort is the only decent educational behaviour.

  • 92JazzQueen .

    If you dismiss this teaching, then you open up to actually being not so different from the fundies you dislike. The reason is that a lot of fundies disregard this notion of loving your neighbor, in favor of judgement. Also if you disregard this, then you have no right to exclaim that someone is not following Scripture when you yourself don’t take it to heart.

  • Sophotroph

    Of course we have the right. Somebody who isn’t following scripture doesn’t magically become observant if the person pointing it out doesn’t follow it themselves.

    The exclamation isn’t “You aren’t following scripture when I am, nyah nyah!”, it’s “You claim to be following scripture but really just pay it lip service.”

    Funny how these people with no right to criticize overlap perfectly with the people who do criticize.

    Nah, must be coincidence.

  • 92JazzQueen .

    The thing is how can you criticize someone over Scripture when you don’t observe it or care yourself. It makes you look hypocritical.

  • scripture is a lie. So debating scripture here – will not get you very far

  • 92JazzQueen .

    However, if the author wants to say that Scripture is wrong, then she/he will have detractors.

  • you are on an atheist column

  • 92JazzQueen .

    And people can call you on the idea that your idea is wrong.

  • persephone

    But that was in intervals, based on his behavior at that moment. An adult who continues to engage in unacceptable behavior is not deserving of love. Besides, why should we love someone just because we’re related to them? Or are we supposed to have loved Mussolini or Hitler or Stalin?

    Jesus was talking to Jews, living in a Jewish country (Romans in charge, but basically it was Jewish). That’s a far cry from how we live now.

  • persephone

    The more context the better. Unfortunately, most Christians don’t care about context or history.

  • persephone

    I view it as understanding why someone is the way they are, but understanding does not mean I care about that person in any way. If you don’t understand the reasons for bad/evil/unacceptable behavior, you cannot hope to see it change.

  • persephone

    This Christian method of making assumptions by extrapolating about people from one story about their lives is annoying and wrong. You aren’t specially blessed in insight, despite what your minister may say. If you’d spent even a few minutes looking through the archive, you would have found that Katie Joy has been instrumental in making terrible injustices known to wider audiences, and helping prevent possible further abuse.

    What have you don’t lately besides running searches to comment on blogposts, so that you can run back to your church and tell them how you called out the heathens?

  • persephone

    Would you please quit spending your time searching for blogposts that you can comment on so you can go back to your church and tell them you went out soulwinning among the heathens. You “Christians” come onto atheist blogs/pagan blogs/definitely not Christian blogs, make comments that are unnecessary, and often descend into abusive, and then think you’re scoring gold stars from some god.

    You’re not. You’re just being an a$$. Go home. Your idea is wrong.

  • persephone

    Bugger off, Steve. Nobody cares about your opinion. Go hang out with the Christian blogs and debate scripture with them. You are just wasting pixels and not impressing anybody.

  • persephone

    Nobody cares. Nobody.

    If you want to discuss theology, go to the Christian blogs. This is an atheist blog, and all you’re doing is looking stupid and wasting time.

  • 92JazzQueen .

    We are not doing it to “score” points. A lot of atheists don’t take their own advice when they do the same thing on religious comments.

  • persephone

    Aren’t you supposed to be the better person, then, I mean, being Christian and all?

    The problem atheists have with Christians is that you want to push your religion, not only as comments or on blogs, but into laws that affect people who don’t believe what you do. When you stop, we’ll stop. Besides, I usually avoid your sites like the plague they are.

    You’re obviously here for some special reason, because you haven’t been here before, that I remember, and you’ve made a point to comment on someone’s journey to atheism. You’re scoring points somehow.

  • 92JazzQueen .

    It’s obvious that people here complain when Christians lock their comment section, yet when commentators come onto to your side you can’t handle them. In other words, you just want a bubble to yourself and not allow any other contrary opinions.

  • Raging Bee

    No, it doesn’t: we don’t have to believe the Bible, or observe any rituals, to be able to see where it’s dead wrong. You are saying, in effect, that only people who believe the Bible get to criticize it. Do I really have to explain why that’s just plain laughable bullshit?

  • Raging Bee

    So go ahead and explain exactly where we’re wrong. We’re waiting…

  • Raging Bee

    We haven’t banned you yet, have we?

  • Raging Bee

    You can’t “spend time worrying about other people”, so one must assume you worry only about yourself.

    Your conclusion does not follow from the premise. And there’s a pretty sizeable excluded middle there too. Yet another Christian blatantly misstating and misrepresenting an atheist’s words.

  • 92JazzQueen .

    The thing is you are so set in your opinion, that you belittle anyone who believes otherwise.

  • Raging Bee

    That’s because no one else has offered any evidence that our opinions are wrong. If you can’t face up to that reality, that’s your problem, not ours.

  • 92JazzQueen .

    The thing is a lot of non-religious people go far and beyond and try to make themselves the authority over other people’s beliefs.

  • Raging Bee

    Mindless blither-points, mindlessly repeated. Will you ever have anything else to offer?

  • persephone

    Honey, you don’t bother me in the least. I’m actually laughing at your comments. They remind me why I got out of the mythology game.

    BTW, a good portion of atheists, possibly the majority in the U.S., were Christians at some point. We read and studied and realized that it was just myth and noped our way out of the stupidity.

    All you’re accomplishing by coming here is looking pathetic. You need to believe in a magic creature out in space. Fine, you do you. But know that we know it’s a joke and a myth and entirely set up to get money and give power to people who are no better, and probably much worse, than average.

  • 92JazzQueen .

    I keep hearing that. It’s actually not so different from self-righteous vegans who keep saying they were once non-meat eaters and they treat themselves as morally superior towards everyone they come across.

  • Oh, shut up. Just shut up.

  • Going out on a limb, here, but, uh… pretty sure even Hitler and Mussolini had family members that loved them.

  • Phil Rimmer

    Oh, Jazzy, Jazzy, Jazzy. No wonder you are starting to act so panicky. You are worried that they have indeed made moral progress. Being better than Christians, morally, is now entirely possible.

    In a shop window near where I work. “Santa, I can explain….”

    I hope you are working on your excuses. One day you may face your sternest critic. And you won’t like the look of you. You’ll finally understand why you grew to have agency.

  • I’d love to be a fly on that wall!

  • Phil Rimmer

    Me too. But if flies could cry, I think we might. Whole lives wasted thinking another’s thoughts…

    Does she think UK Quakers will go to hell for the wrongness of their faith?

    Yes? Then she consorts with monsters.

    No? Then she has woefully under-performed her potential, even as a person of faith.

    She fears no.

  • I’m not even angry with her. Just disappointed, because she’s shown some potential in the past.

  • 92JazzQueen .

    No, that is just your arrogance talking, and again it’s not so different from extreme vegans, who have a holier than thou attitude towards non-vegans.

  • 92JazzQueen .

    Also the fact that you would do away with such a crucial scripture actually in some ways makes you less of a humanist, because loving your neighbor would just give you a freeway to just choose selectively who is deserving of your love, which ironically is a criticism laid down on conservative Christians but you would do away with it in the name of saying it’s wrong.

  • Phil Rimmer

    Strawman.

  • Phil Rimmer

    Being kinder to high sentience animals like cows given the brutality of milk production might be a moral improvement rather than the reverse.

    We are allowed to feel morally superior if we have striven for such and denied ourselves. Nothing to do with religion that one. But better morally is exactly the point.

    Do you wish to assert no moral distinctions?

  • 92JazzQueen .

    The the thing is some of those vegans care less for the suffering of their fellow man.

  • Phil Rimmer

    We were talking about my arrogance like extreme vegans some of whom care less for humans than animals allegedly…

    Or perhaps you meant some humans?

    Now using my speech in this thread to judge my callous attitude towards my fellow human, stick it to me. Follow through with your complaint about not caring about people, rather than the callous attitudes of others.

  • 92JazzQueen .

    I am saying for all your complaints about how conservative Christians don’t follow scripture. A lot of you are no better at doing it and it comes off as pretty hypocritical.

  • How so? We’re not Christians, and not obligated to follow scripture. Christians, on the other hand…

  • you are seriously on an atheist page to push your BS? Seriously?

  • Phil Rimmer

    Did you pay attention to any of the OP (as opposed to the your sidetrack of my alleged callousness)? The clear need to sometimes discount others and not actually love them because they are simply hateful, indeed, harmful to us??? A failing of of some nicey nicey Christians (not conservatives), opening themselves or others up to abuse….

    Your complaints seem astonishingly spurious.

    FWIW

    My favoured Christians mostly claim inspiration from scripture but use their own wits and knowledge to devise decent enough behaviours.

  • 92JazzQueen .

    However, if you don’t value the virtue, then complain someone else doesn’t follow it then it comes off as being hypocritical.

  • 92JazzQueen .

    The thing is when you discard how scripture like this influences their behavior, then it’s completely missing the point.

  • Phil Rimmer

    I haven’t the faintest idea what you intend with this. What scripture, whose behaviour and what behaviours?

    Sorry. Just lay it out a little more fully. Ta.

  • Phil Rimmer

    I’m being lazy here, because I have the wrong laptop and bookmarks and am just linking to the first appropriate site. But ideas of loving your enemy are antique and many more nuanced and valuable in their sophistication of thought.

    https://etb-biblical-errancy.blogspot.com/2012/04/jesus-was-not-first-to-teach-love-your.html

    It is lame brain to simply reduce it to such aphoristic wisdom as too many knowing only a Christian Narrative do.

  • do you honestly think trying to convince atheists to believe your sky daddy crap is going to work?

  • Steve Smith

    All I am saying is that her perceptions of Christian faith are not in accordance with what Christ said and have given clear examples which show that. She identifies personal guilt as a cause of problems in her life but why would one feel guilty before a God who freely forgives sins?

  • Steve Smith

    Actually, faith in Christ has inspired many to do good things for other people. Many charitable organizations that successfully serve others are faith based. How can you not know this?

  • Steve Smith

    Well, I suppose that people who respond to my comments (positively or negatively) care enough to respond. That said, thanks for caring to respond!

  • You will not get anyone here to believe anything you say. So what you say means nothing.

  • Raging Bee

    Christians aren’t the only people inspired to do good things for others. Your point…?

  • Raging Bee

    “A lot of non-religious people go far and beyond and try to make themselves the authority over other people’s beliefs,” say the Christians who think everyone who doesn’t agree with them will go to Hell for all eternity.

  • That made no sense whatsoever.

    Holding someone accountable is not hypocrisy.

  • You’re missing the point.

    BE SPECIFIC.

  • 92JazzQueen .

    And deflect and try to paint yourselves as always just fighting back, when often times I see non-religious people have an edge to them that just wants to be self-righteous jerks.

  • Says the self-righteous jerk…