The arguments on my friend’s Facebook page descend into name-calling. It is to be expected, of course. She’s been talking about religion.
I sit and witness the back and forth comments of theists and atheists alike, each with their own rock solid convictions. God is not real, the atheists say, he’s as imaginary as the Easter Bunny or Santa Claus. But I’ve had a personal experience with the divine, the theists claim, you can’t dismiss how I feel.
I don’t really care if someone believes in God or not — it’s entirely a personal choice. What interests me is how such a belief enriches a person’s life, right here and right now. How does being a Christian make things better?
My experience is that believing in God makes life less enjoyable, less loving, less compassionate.
These are the things I must relinquish in order to love, worship and follow the God of the Bible:
I cannot be sexually intimate with someone unless I’m married to them. And I must stay married to them for the span of my entire life. Masturbation and pornography are off limits. As for same-sex relationships, the verdict is still unclear — some say yes and some say no. Monogamous, heterosexual, vanilla sex are my only options.
Although I might be lucky enough to get away with contraception these days, I cannot have an abortion. My own physical needs are secondary to the needs of my developing fetus. I am expected to remain celibate before marriage, so I remain ignorant of contraceptive methods and good sexual health practices.
The Bible states that as a woman I am subservient to my husband. In some churches I must cover my head and keep my mouth closed. As a woman, my highest function is to produce children. If I don’t have a husband or children, I am next to useless. I am also responsible for the way men respond to my physical presence. I cannot wear clothing that could be interpreted as provocative, for fear I will cause a man to stumble into the sin of lust.
Compassion and Tolerance
Those who have not accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour will suffer eternal damnation when they die. Not only that, unbelievers are the tools of the Devil sent to tempt and torment the righteous. I must make a judgement as to the holiness or worldliness of those around me and act accordingly. Even trying to understand someone else’s beliefs is dangerous, and can drag a Christian down into the depths of sin.
Faith in the Goodness of Humanity
All humans are born in original sin, and without spiritual intervention, will instinctively be selfish, dishonest and driven by lust. All the evil in the world is a result of our debase nature, and all the good things an expression of God’s benevolence. I am constantly wracked with guilt over my inability to be sinless and blameless, and must seek divine forgiveness for simply making mistakes.
There are two things that I am told are the reasons for devoting one’s life to God. The first is that he pays special attention to his children, answers their prayers and eases the suffering of their mortal life. The second is the promise of heaven — eternal life without suffering, pain or loss.
If God does answer prayers, I don’t see much evidence of it. Good people get sick and die, get raped and murdered, get bullied and abused. If God intervenes, he doesn’t do it often enough to make a difference.
And if heaven does exist, I guess I won’t be invited because I didn’t follow the rules. But if the fear of hell is the only reason to believe, then that’s not enough for me.
I want my life to be filled with intimacy, I want to enjoy and celebrate my body, to feel empowered, to love and accept my fellow man, and to see the indescribable beauty in the souls of all humans. Christianity takes all that away from me and replaces it with unfulfilled promises here and now, and unprovable promises for the future.
I choose not to believe, because belief takes away the lightness in my life. The road is difficult enough without carrying the weight of fear and guilt on my back.
What are your thoughts? Am I missing something? Is God more than an insurance policy for the afterlife?
Article: The Happiness Creed written by Katie Paul, first appeared on head-heart-health.com.