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Why Christianity Matters


A guest post by Ian

Since telling everyone that I was no longer a Christian, I have been able to look at how Christianity affected my life; and, more importantly, why. Understanding why it was affecting me so drastically gives me a better understanding of how it was controlling me. In the end, Christianity is about control; control of our actions and our thoughts. This control is exerted by telling people that almost everything they do is a sin that keeps them from God. The good things that are done can only be done through the control of God, or they are selfish and, ultimately, a sin (the pride of life).

Christianity matters to people for many reasons. A few of the most prevalent reasons are fear of eternal torment, loss of community, and self-worth issues, in no particular order. There are countless other reasons and minor variations of these reasons. In the end, if a Christian is pressed hard enough, these are the three that will be the main reasons.

The first reason, fear of eternal torment, is a powerful motivator. People are told that, without the sacrifice of a murdered savior, they will die (like everyone else on earth) and will be tormented forever in a place of fire and brimstone. By looking at this idea honestly, you can see that this makes no sense. The basic premise for this idea is that an all-powerful God created the universe and perfect people to inhabit it. These mortal, insignificant people were able to do something so egregious that caused the all-powerful God to condemn them, and all of their offspring, to an eternity of torment, unless they believe in the aforementioned savior. Not just punishment for the two who broke the law, but a punishment, for all humans, that has spanned 6,000 years of Bible history and will continue on forever. Punishment that consists holding a dead person’s immortal soul into a place of fire and torment until a final judgment can be made. This judgment is a foregone conclusion, since a soul is unable to receive salvation or forgiveness from this all-powerful God. After the final judgment, everyone being held in this fiery place of torment will be cast into an eternal Lake of Fire. The fact that one person has suffered for 6,000 years and another person has suffered for a day before being thrown into this eternal fire has no bearing on anything. This is the work of a petty God, one who acts childish and holds a grudge.

This idea of eternal torment keeps people in church and pacified because it is such a fearful thing. The truth is that people don’t really want to do good to honor God, they want to do good to avoid eternal fire. This is not to say that some people don’t want to sometimes do good deeds for others, but the fear far outweighs the promise of a reward. Some people have called this fear irrational, since eternal fiery torment doesn’t exist; but if you are a Christian, this is a totally rational fear. (The eternal punishment idea never came from where Christianity claims its origins. The Christian idea of hell and eternal torment are easily traceable to Greek and Roman ideas of the afterlife, among other religions.) A rational person would be well advised to do everything they could to avoid such a punishment. The truth is that everyone dies and that is all there is. The fact that some evildoers in life get away with their crimes is remedied by having a place of eternal torment. The only way to escape this eternal torment is to be a Christian (of some sort).

Even Christians are affected by eternal torment. I have heard several people over the years say that they had doubts of their salvation. Usually this occurs late at night or when there is personal turmoil. Many people “get saved” more than once—I did this myself. In the back of our minds, there is no way to be 100% sure that you will miss out on eternal torment. We have been told that you can; but, until you die, there is no way to know for sure; so, people will cling to any chance they have of missing torment. And this is one of the reasons that it matters if you are a Christian.

The second reason Christianity matters to people is the community it forms. Many people are born into families that are Christian, or at least have roots in the church. Growing up in this environment means that most of the people you know are Christians and leaving Christianity means leaving family and friends behind.

Leaving behind everyone you love means two things. First, you separate yourself from them. You are no longer in close contact, or fellowship, with them. You miss out on many of the things you used to do together and you grow apart. Secondly, many types of Christians will shun you for leaving Christianity. In practice, this means you are worse than a regular unbeliever and deserve to be ignored by them. You are told, initially, that Christians are praying for you; but, when you are resistant to their prayers and pleadings, they treat you as though you are worse than a rapist or child molester. This is because you have once experienced the goodness of God but now trample it underfoot. They believe there is no redemption for you. They believe that for a person to renounce Christianity means you were never saved and you will be condemned to eternal torment.

Leaving behind all of you friends and being shunned is a strong motivation to keep people in Christianity. Being an ex-Christian opens a lot of doors and places you into unfamiliar territory. Leaving likeminded people and a pastor who tells you what to do and think means that you will have to make your own decisions, which is something many people don’t want to do. This community has been your stability, so leaving it is hard to do. You can feel as if your whole world is upside down. Many people stay, even when they aren’t particularly happy or satisfied with their situation, because they fear this shunning and loss of relationships.

Finally, self-worth issues keep people in Christianity. Christians are told that they are sinners and deserving of eternal torment. They are told that, without Jesus, all of their good deeds are nothing but filthy rags and there is “none righteous, no not one”. Being told these kinds of things for many years makes you believe that you have no self-worth outside of Christianity. No one wants to feel worthless, especially when eternity hangs in the balance.

Christians are told to be humble and to only “glory in the cross” of Jesus; the cross where a man was murdered because he was falsely accused of sedition, according to the New Testament. By keeping people enslaved to the idea of embracing low self-esteem, they feel that they are worthless. Their only value comes through Christianity and the affirmations of their pastor and church. When these affirmations are taken away, many Christians become depressed and feel that God has forsaken them. They then start a spiral into self-destruction, which they believe is because God is punishing them for not being true to Christianity. When these people “get right with God”, they were able to put away their “sins” because their self-worth was restored. This shows how insidious and powerful these self-worth ideas are.

Ultimately, these three reasons are intertwined. As I have shown, the overlap in these mindsets is a powerful tool for keeping people in bondage to Christianity. Understanding why Christianity matters to people is an important step in finally freeing yourself from its lingering grip. It will also help you understand why people are so upset when you finally announce your deconversion.


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    Christianity is first and foremost a social club for my mom. They look at what everyone is wearing, gossip about who’s boinking who… it’s like a shallow movie only with an offering plate.

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    I think Ian hit this out of the park. Those three reasons kept me trapped in the church for years. What eventually started pushing me out was myself and my mind bucking against these reasons. When I finally had enough of being controlled by fear of hell and feeling worthless, I knew I had to get out. It was rough at first, but worth every step.

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    For me, it was mostly the fear and the low self-worth. I often didn’t feel at home in Christian communities so that was not as much of a loss in my case. My self-esteem was so low that I constantly felt worse and more evil than the other Christians I knew and so being with them made me doubt myself even more…

    Working at self-love and realizing how a focus on sin keeps you sad and miserable helped in that regard. I read many Christian self-help books with very mixed messages: God loves you, you are so worthy, but you’re also a sinner destined for hell. Secular books and websites helped a whole lot more in building up some confidence. I didn’t need to second-guess myself nearly as much…

    Once the fear lessened, my perception became a lot clearer. The fear just muddles your thinking, making it very difficult to look at things from a distance.

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    Fear and guilt are powerful motivators. They are not coincidentally the two most powerful tools of the church. From original sin to eternal hell, also creations of the church and ultimately made by man.

    Want proof that they just make this stuff as they go along, then look further than the catholic church. Just today I saw that the Pope said he is granting priests the power to absolve women of their sin if they had an abortion, something the church usually excommunicates someone for. The catch is that they can only be absolved during a special “Holy Year of Mercy” that begins in December. So if a woman goes to a priest on November 30th and asks forgiveness, BAM! Excommunicated! Have a nice day! Thanks for Playing!

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    I think you have missed the point, and I will defend the gift that GOD has given all, Jesus Christ. But free will, which GOD had also given us, as He doesn’t make us into Robots? It is up to the individual, a choice to follow Christ Jesus, and as a Christian Believer, I know I’m not perfect in the flesh, and deserve death! The World is wide, and the road to destruction is also Leads to Death! If we are to follow Christ, we Must Have Faith, Living In His Commandments! If we say we Believe that Christ Came In The Flesh, we Are His Children! If we Say that We Have No Sin, The Truth Is Not In Us! If we are Truthful to GOD, Knowing, that We Need Him, and Confess Our Sins, He is Our Mediator, Who Asks The Father, as Our High Priest, Our Deliverer, Who Knew Not Sin, but Became Sin for Us! For GOD So Loved The World, that He Gave Us His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, that Anyone Who Calls Upon His Name, Shall Be Saved! Listen Bruce, Men have tried through The Centuries, to Created a Perfect World, Clearly Without GOD, and Not IN His Plan! The Catholic Church, has deviated, and Destroyed Many Souls for Christ, Throughout the Centuries, Before the Protestant Formation? Waldesians, in The Italian Alps, Celtic Christians, in England and Ireland, Viadous, French Alps, and many other Authentic Christians from many parts in The World at that Time, and GOD is still working Through Many, Searching, Praying, and Living The Gospel as the evil one’s Time is Short, as a Roaring Lion, trying to Destroy Our Souls, and What is GOOD! Repent and Walk in The Faith! GOD knew that we were NOT PERFECT! But Christ was PERFECT, which we must Try and Emulate In This Life, as Our Heavenly Farther Searches The Heart of Man, even with our Shortcomings in The Flesh, We Strive to Perfection, as in Our Hearts and Minds, Following GOD and Christ, Inwardly, ,without The Oral Law of Tradition but as in Faith, We can Keep His Commandments. Blessed Be GOD, Creator of The Universe Amen

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    Another Thing Bruce, it Isn’t GOD’S Fault, But Only Men! As the evil one, puts a Stumbling Block in Our Way, Enticing us with All That Is Of The World! GOD has Given Us, the Gift of Christ, to Die in Our Place, Not Because We Deserved This, but Because GOD Loved Us and as A Father, we Should Love Him, Respect Him, Fear and Obey Him, Just Like Our earthly father’s, We Should Love, fear, Respect, and Obey, Amen

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      Gennaro, in management theory there is a clear link between power and responsibility. Only those with power, or delegated power, can have responsibility. Therefore, your hypothetical god is 100% responsible in perpetuity for everything that happens on its watch, until and unless we are given sufficient power and authority to correct problems.

      I unconditionally reject the long-weekend “sacrifice” of Jesus. I do not consent to anyone dying in my place and take full responsibility for any problems I may have caused by my actions. My internal thoughts are no one’s business but my own.

      And I never feared my real father. Love? Yes. Respect? Hell, yes! He was a great guy. Obey? He never had to order me to do anything; his own behaviour provided an excellent model to emulate.

      Not so the god of the Bible — that particular deity, as described in that sorry dog’s breakfast of mythological excreta, is a right bastard with a vicious streak a mile wide. Totally unworthy of love and respect, although I can see why scared believers might want to fear and obey it.

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