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Freedom without Jesus

jimmy carter lust quote

According to Evangelicals, we live in a world inhabited by fallen, broken, sinful people. All humans are sinners, from the moment they come forth from the womb speaking lies to when they draw their last breath. Numerous Bible verses reinforce the notion that there is something seriously wrong with every one of us. We have a disease called sin and it is killing us.

According to Evangelicals, we are helpless, hopeless, and empty. We lack purpose, direction, and meaning. Simply put, we are fucked. There is no hope for any of us. From the first man and woman to the baby born just a moment ago, all of us are wretches in bondage to our wants, needs, and desires. Sure sucks to be us, yes?

But wait, Preacher Billy Mays says. All is not lost. God sent his son Jesus to earth to die on the cross for sinners. Through his shed blood sin is expiated, and by putting faith in him we can have our sins forgiven and find purpose, meaning, and direction. And as an added bonus, at no extra charge, those who pray and ask Jesus to forgive them will be given eternal life and a home in God’s Trump Hotel after they die.

Millions and millions of people call the 1-800-salvation number only to find out that there is a catch. Yes, the salvation is free; yes, the eternal life and hotel room is free, but there is a small shipping and handling charge. How much, you ask?

Just your life. If you buy what Preacher Billy Mays is selling, the cost is your life. Every moment of every day will belong to Jesus until you die. Your life will be governed by an ancient, largely irrelevant religious text called the Bible. This text has hundreds and hundreds of laws, rules, regulations, and precepts you will be expected to obey. While technically you can still get eternal life and a Heavenly hotel room after you die even if you don’t obey, surely you don’t want the room at the back of the hotel — the room where the plumbing never seems to work and the couple next door are loudly fucking day and night.

Sold a fantastical story about sin and brokenness, and emptiness and forgiveness, and healing and fulfillment, Evangelicals give the operator their credit card numbers and order God’s Eternal Life Package® — free, just pay shipping and handling. This shipping and handling charge, as they will find out later, will be charged to their credit card every month until they die.

Evangelicals love to point out the awesome freedom they have now that they have bought God’s Eternal Life Package®. Are they really free, the non-Evangelical asks? Bound to the words of an antiquated, contradictory book, are Evangelicals really free?

According to Evangelicals, God created everything, including every human. God gave us sexual desire, the Evangelical says, but the Bible says we can only act on this desire if we are married to someone of the opposite sex (and Christians are only allowed to marry Christians). Acting on our sexual desire outside the boundaries of heterosexual marriage is sin, a sin that some verses in the Bible say will result in us forfeiting our Eternal Life Package® and room at God’s Trump Hotel. Instead, we will get Satan’s Eternal Death Package® and a room in Beelzebub’s Motel Six.

Not only does the Bible condemn any sexual behavior except married heterosexual intercourse, it also says that if we just look at a person and desire him or her sexually, we are sinning against God; so much so that God calls it “committing adultery in our heart.” Don’t touch, unless it is your spouse, and don’t look lest you burn in Hell. And Evangelicals call this freedom?

I watch five NFL games a week — Monday, Thursday, and three on Sunday. Attractively dressed cheerleaders are often part of the games. Sometimes, one or more of the cheerleaders catches my attention. I say, nice, and I hit the replay button so I can confirm my observation. Yep, nice. On to the game.

No guilt.

No fear.

No quick prayer asking forgiveness.

Like a road trip on a beautiful fall day, I was just enjoying the scenery.

Here’s the difference between the “freedom” the Evangelical thinks he has and the true freedom I have as an atheist. The Evangelical has to feel guilty over being a healthy, normal heterosexual (or bisexual or homosexual) man. He dare not hit the replay button lest he lust and commit adultery in his heart. If he does hit the replay button, he must later confess his sin to God and promise to never, ever, fingers crossed, do it again. And come football season, because he is a man with a normal, healthy libido, he will once again, with one eye covered, gaze upon the cheerleaders’ comeliness or the tight end’s nice ass. And as every time before, he will claim 1 John 1:9 (If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness) and promise God to never, ever, fingers crossed, do it again.

Me, the godless atheist? I am free to enjoy life with all its pleasures without feeling guilty over being a normal, healthy (normal and healthy being subjective terms) heterosexual man.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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  1. Avatar

    The first lie is believing to begin with, the great ‘victory’ of faith…. Once that leap has been taken, the rules that you follow force you to lie, to lust and repent, to sin and beg forgiveness, to promise to never never again do what you have done…. you learn to lie for Jesus and it goes on and on. This is a betrayal of yourself, of your own body, to confirm the lie that we are fallen creatures at the mercy of some almighty prick who expects us to be inhuman.

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    I wrote a bit about this in my comment on the music post, but apart from the whole hell thing, I do believe that the giving up yourself/your life/your own opinions is another very bad effect of Christianity. The more serious you take this teaching, the more easily you will lose yourself, all for Jesus. It is a different way of becoming a martyr.

    I used to really look up to missionaries, evangelists going to dangerous places, etc. But then I once learnt during a lecture or something, that some of the Catholic priests/nons, Jesuits in the past went to these places on purpose, knowing full well that they might be killed. Almost intending to, because…. wait for it… it would mean skipping purgatory! They’d fly straight into heaven, without having to worry about that place. It changed my opinion about their bravery quite a bit: did they do it to save people or just to get a VIP ticket to heaven? Choosing death in order to get life…. still a very Christian thing to do.

    Like you say, what does it cost? Only your life. Whether this means losing your life to death (for Christ) or losing your living life for Christ…. Either way you’ve lost your self, your own power, your own decision-making.

    During some Bible studies that I followed as a student, the following Bible verse kept on popping up:

    Hebrews 10:”26 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.”

    This one was applied to all sorts of sins, and I think for the guys (girls were supposed to be prudes, of course… 😉 ) it was about looking at women/porn etc. as well, though it was never actually said. Heaven forbid we’d actually talk about it…

    Anyway, the verse made me upset as well, because you can’t win with this verse. Many sins are deliberate and if some things happen more than once, you already have knowledge about it and so it becomes deliberate….

    I’ve heard some other explanations of the verse as well, but it seems to me, in general, like in your post about John, that Christians need to change verses, or at least, change the explanations to such an extent that it all becomes very convulted. If you take these things at face value, hardly any Christian is going to get to heaven, never mind the rest of us….

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    I feel like it should have been Beezlebub’s Motel Six Sixty-Six. I would rather stay there anyway (not that I believe in hell to begin with).

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    Hey Melody. I can think of one other possibility, although there may be others. Maybe we are all “left behind” and maybe we have been for 2,000 years. Jesus plainly said that the so-called end times and all that was left to come to pass would occur in his generation. The Greek word for “generation” used in the Bible means just one generation—not 20, 50, 100, or 500. It may very well be that all that tongue speaking, healing miraculously, and being able to totally resist sin in mind and action actually did exist and was possible—even easy—within that first generation. Jesus came back to them within that generation, and the alpha and omega process was concluded—already. The people that were left behind just kept on reproducing and doing in a world where God had already said “By y’all!!! I’m leaving now and will never be back” and stepped out of the scene forever, which is why all of our lives are so miserable in one way or another. Sure, we have churches, but what if they are all empty shell, after-the-fact churches that offer no meaning and no truth—and point nowhere because the process for which churches were originally intended has already been concluded. They represent nothing but a human yearning for what can never be. Maybe the existence of Religious Right ideologues and two-bit fundie pricks is proof of our vacuous condition. We are all then just waiting around for the Lake of Fire, which just happens to be something that God knew 2000 years ago when he stepped away forever—Trump and Putin going head-to-head to set the world on fire with nuclear weapons in World War III.

    Just popping off. In a universe as large as this one—all kinds of things are possible.

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      If he had, Jesus I mean, at least his prophecy would have been true about this (his) generation not seeing death and/or getting mansions in heaven.

      Funny but your post reminds me of this book: the discovery of heaven, where God basically also says goodbye to the world. He’s pissed off and sends someone to get the ten commandments back, thereby breaking his side of his contract with humans leaving them to their own devices once more.

      “They represent nothing but a human yearning for what can never be.” I think this is true for many longings and religious dogma: the afterlife, the fountain of youth, the rapture. All vain hopes of cheating death somehow. “Grave, where is thy victory”- kind of thing.

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    Love you hit rewind!!!! Couldnt agree more! If God created everything, he created us humans with an overpowering sexual desire, a drive to notice the opposite sex, and feel instant attraction, arousal….OMG look at her!

    And if one looks at the animal world……they are guilty of this sin too.(reversed in birds, the males are pretty)
    So is it “Lust”, or a gene driven reproduction thing?

    At school I contemplated this, after noticing Christian boys would immediately , turn their head the other way or down, if the senior hottie in a short dress walked past them…..the Christian girls all giving head shakes, not impressed looks and evil stares, etc. .
    Bugger that shit….she looks Fantastic……and us ‘Phillistines” were more interested in “Wonder what beach she goes to! Imagine her in a G-string(thong 4 u Mary-landers) and topless!” etc …..dribbling, ogling, had already pictured her naked, and well….Boys,will be boys!!!

    Adultery? Christ we werent even married, let alone old enough too…….and half of us still virgins….. and newbies to havin a wank( jacking off)…

    …later at school, when I heard that verse as the reason for this Horse & Buggy (think Amish) Victorian era prudishness (modesty?)…….I thought, who ever wrote that line,had serious gender problems….its highly likely they were GAY! The ‘queer’ boys too, sayin “look at that tart”.(probably got it from Christian women)

    I think that was around the time I became atheist, “that book aint for me, if thats a divine moral”, the final straw on all the other natural absurdities listed on this site elsewhere.
    Gay? mmmm?

    Just why do those priests wear yellow frocks?……(and long before Yellow became the gay colour)

    Isnt it funny the wiki article on Cassocks says…..”to catch the public eye”, but doesnt mention the reason for ‘gold’.
    Another said it was from the East, and the Turks to humiliate, made them wear bright colours.
    Another said it was for Midnight Sermons…….(midnight services?)
    Another said……possibly ‘illuminated’…….. u know what I mean, never a straight up answer!

    Covet your neighbours wife? …..You are allowed to look, but you dont hit on em……those poor Muslim boys>,BURKAS! Now thats the devils work! ….and probably the reason for “72 Virgins in heaven”….and Rape!

  6. Avatar
    MJ Lisbeth

    I’m going to set out a table the size of Alaska full of chocolates, any and all kinds of chocolates. Belgian, Swiss, Dutch. Artisanal dark chocolate-covered cherries from Traverse City. Amandes enrobees de chocolate. Pistacci al cioccolato.

    But there’s one catch: You can only consume those delicacies for medicinal purposes.

    • Avatar
      Karen the rock whisperer

      Sugar is a psychotropic drug, but it doesn’t need a prescription. I propose we all come over and self-medicate our mental health!

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