I posted this as a comment to an article I read on another blog, where the author has given up all belief in God and is instead professing “atheism”… that article, should you wish to read it, can be found here. This is definitely NOT good writing… I read an article and started typing my reply and have posted here what can out of my head, unedited. I’m so tempted to change it around a bit, but then it wouldn’t be the way I posted it. Ah well, the basic points are evident…
Here is my comment, much of which I’ve said here in various articles before this one (please note these are MY opinions, and aren’t to be taken as gospel truth):
It’s interesting to read this article, because my journey is similar, yet opposite. Raised in the church as the son of a Pastor, I turned my back on absolutely everything I learned. I hated the hypocrites. I couldn’t stand the politics. I was infuriated by lack of answers to my questions.
For 9 years I produced pornography, and in a very weird way, that pursuit led me back to faith in God. I finally was able to “get it”… “get” the fact that God and those who claim to follow him are two different things.
And from there I asked Him what I’m supposed to do with the Bible, because it is so full of things that make no sense to me whatsoever. I told God I’d surrender my life to Him if he’d just answer those questions for me. He didn’t do so. I surrendered my life to Him anyway, trusting that my answers would someday come.
It’s been a little over a year now. I’ve lost everything I owned. Banks have repossessed cars and sparkly things. My fiancé, the girl I loved for 6 years, left. My heart was torn apart because of the grief and terror of a change of lifestyle.
But during that time I really got to know God. I leaned on him so hard. I learned not to fear the pain… and not to just NOT fear it, but to appreciate it, because it is such a beautiful part of the human healing process. I learned the nature of God.
From there I started reading. I started digging deeper. I started learning the context of scriptures, rather than just accepting what I’d been taught the scriptures meant. The more I learned, the more the Bible made sense. It came alive for me. That sounds so cliché, but I’m just reporting what happened.
Rightly interpreted, the Bible sets you free. Wrongly interpreted, it enslaves.
I learned the love of God. I learned the concept of free will. I learned the idea of consequences, rather than punishments.
What do I mean by that? I’ll give you an example of “consequences” vs “punishment”, and mix it with an example of free will….
Growing up, I was always afraid sins would result in damnation. It seemed God was some scary being awaiting any chance to doom me to eternal fire. It seemed I had to walk on eggshells and watch my every move or he’d punish me. But then I read an illustration on consequences.
The illustration asked the question, “If you stick your finger in a light socket, is the light socket punishing you when it flows through your body?”
Of course not. That painful jolt was merely the consequences of my stupid, free will action. It wasn’t a punishment. And if an innocent person walks by me as my finger is in that light socket, are they punished by the electric jolt they experience when I reach out and grab them? Of course not. They, too, are victims of my free will to put my finger in a light socket.
God doesn’t punish us either, even though we’re told that He does. It’s just that we are unable to escape the consequences of our free will.
And free will is a beautiful thing… It’s so deep. It’s so powerful. It’s so… amazing.
I recently asked someone if they’d ever want to marry a person they had to scare into loving them. The answer, of course, is a resounding NO. Who wants to force someone to love them? Isn’t it better to be loved by choice?
See, it seems to me that some choose to believe we must scare people into heaven. That is not the case. God wants us to CHOOSE to love Him… to have a relationship with Him because it’s what WE want, not because He forces us to do so or because He hangs hellfire over our heads.
The only way to guarantee that choice comes from US is to step back and let us live our lives… to let us make our own mistakes… And even if it’s painful to watch those mistakes, to intervene in life only when asked, and then in accordance with a “big picture” in mind that we may not even see.
And to illustrate what I mean by “big picture” let me give you yet another example: I have a 7 year old son. He loves candy. As a good father, I obviously can’t let him eat all the candy he wants. That would rot his teeth and he wouldn’t receive the nutrition he needs to grow and maintain a healthy life. With his 7 year old mentality, he may not understand why I say “no”. He may think I’m being mean. But someday he’ll comprehend the “big picture” and understand.
Likewise, some of those principles found in the Bible are really motivated by the same type of love that keeps me from allowing my son to eat himself into rotten teeth. Once I started seeing things that way, they made more sense… like, for example, the concept of no premarital sex: God isn’t trying to find another excuse to send us to hell, and he’s not trying to take away our fun. He’s simply telling us that he’d rather see us wait for the person He has for us down the road. If we do so, we won’t have to bring all the baggage of past relationships with us. We won’t have to worry if others before us were better in bed. We won’t have to worry if the melancholy look on our partner’s face is because they’re missing someone from their past. We won’t have to be “married” to every other physical relationship from our past or our spouse’s past. THAT, is God’s plan… and it’s motivated by not wanting our teeth to fall out. It’s motivated by love more pure than any human parent can possibly offer.
That concept, of “laws” motivated by love from a being who has a bigger picture than me… that concept set me free.
I stopped focusing on whether or not God exists and started trying to figure out who God IS… And I was happy to find those before me were oftentimes just as ignorant as I was, and therefore had no business telling me the answers to those questions. Upon seeking the answers I’ve begun finding them.
And I’ve finally discovered what a real relationship with God is all about.