Monday, December 12, 2016

Honest Advent: Gaslighting Is Not Okay, Even If It's Biblical

Silhouettes of a person on top of a slope reaching down to help someone who's lower. Image source.
Let's take a look at a passage from Two Corinthians, Donald Trump's favorite book of the bible. 2 Corinthians 4:3-6:
And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.
Whoa. Whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa, NOT COOL.

Oh man this is bad. "The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God." So it's saying that non-Christians just aren't able to understand Christianity- they are "blinded" by an external force- and therefore any objections they have to Christianity are automatically invalid.

It's saying that people who don't believe in Christianity aren't able to think clearly and see reason about it. They only reject Jesus because they're influenced by some other shady forces. It's saying people aren't able to take a look at evidence and arguments and make a reasonable, educated decision on which religion, if any, is worth following- no, if they're not Christians, it's only because they're "blinded."

That is messed-up.

But I've heard this before. This is what I was taught in church. Non-Christians just don't *get* the bible because they "don't have the Holy Spirit." People don't believe in Jesus because they "love their sin" even though they secretly know Christianity is right. They make decisions that go against "God's commands" because of "temptation." Former Christians "lose their faith" because they were "led astray by the world" and "fell away."

Basically, a lot of different ways to say, "People who disagree with us don't have actual, rational reasons for their beliefs. They have dishonest ulterior motives, or maybe they're being tricked by some sinister influence and they're not able to think clearly."

That's a bunch of Christian-supremacist crap. And it's gaslighting. "Gaslighting" is when you claim that someone's actual lived experiences aren't really real, when you try to manipulate them into doubting their own mind. In this case, it's Christians claiming that non-Christians just aren't capable of even understanding what Christianity is and why it's so great, and therefore any opinions they have about it are automatically invalid. It's a refusal to actually engage with them, take them seriously, treat them as rational human beings capable of intelligent thought. No, they're "blinded." That's why they don't agree with us. Not because they actually have actual reasons.

This is not okay. Yes I know it's in the bible, but that doesn't make it okay. The bible also says "love your neighbor" and this Christian-supremacy nonsense sure as hell isn't love.

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