Friday, July 10, 2015

"And if you don't believe in God, even better."

Image source.
In James McGrath's post When Churches Make People Need Therapy (or Why Anti-Gay Christianity is an Abomination), he shares a video where youtuber Shane Dawson talks about his struggles with depression and accepting himself as bisexual. McGrath focuses on the parts of the video where Dawson mentions religion:
By the end of the video, we learn that he still believes in God. I was moved by his discovery of the reality that a God who made him this way will not condemn him for being the way he is.

But I was particularly struck by his statement that, if unlike him you don’t believe in God, so much the better.

This video is a great illustration of what the anti-gay forms of Christianity are doing to people. Making them miserable. Making them need therapy. Driving them to the brink of losing their faith. And when they cling to it, making them feel as though those who don’t believe in God are better off than they are.

As a progressive Christian, I have to say that the conservative forms of Christianity that make people feel this way about themselves – and about the love they feel for others – are something terrible.

Indeed, let me suggest that there is one word that seems particularly apt…

Anti-gay Christianity is an abomination.
At the 13:30 mark of the video, Dawson says:
Love who you wanna love. Life is short. Nobody's gonna hate you for it. God isn't gonna hate you for it, cuz God loves you. And if you don't believe in God, even better. But if you do, like me, and you're scared, you don't wanna piss him off and you don't wanna go to hell and all those things, you just have to remember that God made you who you are for a fucking reason. I'm this way for a fucking reason.
That one line- "And if you don't believe in God, even better"- stood out to me because ... I feel the same way. Wouldn't it be so much easier if I didn't believe in God anymore?

I want to be a Christian, and I write this blog and say things like "Christianity is good news" and "God doesn't think you're dirty and worthless because you broke the rules of purity culture" and "God doesn't send people to hell for being the 'wrong' religion" ... but it's such a hard sell. It really is.

Because the God I want to believe in is so incredibly different from the God I learned about in church. As far as the east is from the west.

I say "God is love" and I always need to clarify "love" really means love, it doesn't mean "you're a massive screw-up and I really hope you change so you can be acceptable to God"... I say "God is love" but it rings hollow. The idea that God truly loves us and understands us and doesn't judge us by some ignorant unreasonable standard- no, we all know God's not that good.

We all know that if something sounds like good news, then it can't be the real gospel- it's "watered down."

Evangelical Christianity has made it so hard for me to believe in a God that actually is love. Instead, I'm haunted by the idea of a God who knows I'm wrong and am therefore screwed, and the shame I feel over breaking the rules- the depression- is God "convicting" me of my sin. A God who knows that I was taught "the right answers" and there is no excuse for my turning away from them now. A God who believes that whatever new beliefs I have now, and all the reasoning behind them, all the time I've spent thinking and researching- it's all just a sinful attempt to justify my sin.

I am 100% certain that it's better to believe in no God than to believe in that God.

But I still think God is love. Real love, not "you're so full of sin, I just can't even with you, unless you devote your life to [this one particular interpretation of] Jesus."

I want to tell you that God is love, but who would believe me? If you don't believe in God, even better.


  1. I feel similarly. I want to be a Christian. But it's so painful sometimes. Like you said, I feel "haunted" by the God I grew up with.
    Sometimes I feel like maybe I don't even have belief - I just hope. I hope for Jesus and a God who is personal and love itself. I hope for freedom and resurrection for every single living being, because I can't stand to believe otherwise. And it hurts, because I want to believe. :(
    So, yeah. Excuse my ranting. Thanks for this post - it really resonates with me. :)

  2. Yeah, hope. I think Christianity is the good news that resurrection and love are real, and that just sounds like the greatest thing ever, I so hope it's true.

  3. I honestly sometimes feel like this too. :( Like the Bible totally does have all kinds of messed up things in it that I wish weren't there, but I'm (supposedly) Christian so I have to deal with it. But I also know that disagreeing with what God does/says in the Bible means I'm probably Bad. And Hurting God. But if I followed what was taught to me I'd be hurting other human beings, so... For now I'm just going to keep being kind to people and hope that if God is kind that he'll be forgiving of me not wanting to hurt anybody. If I hadn't started out Christian I feel like I wouldn't have this weird worry that believing people should be respected and allowed to make their own decisions in life is actually evil of some kind that I'll be punished for later. O_o It's so dumb.

  4. If I have somehow failed to mention it to you before, I want to recommend the book The God We Never Knew by Marcus Borg. It is about the God I've always known--and I'm grateful--and makes a strong argument for that God being real, which I hope will be helpful to you.