A friend of my asked me to respond to this post about Christianity. The title is “Anti-Human Theology: Learning to Hate Yourself”, and the author discusses the ideas of humans needing to be saved and never being good enough. Being raised Catholic, I know that some of this thought patterned was ingrained in me early and probably still affects me today. When I was younger, I had the idea that the Christian God was all-accepting and all-forgiving. I didn’t really latch on to the idea of a wrathful God. I don’t know if this is the idea that my parents and spiritual teachers intended to communicate, but it is what I took away. I knew teachings of Jesus sacrificing himself on the cross, but I don’t think I ever understood why. I didn’t take the story of Adam and Eve literally. I acknowledged the fact that humans are imperfect, but I didn’t understand the need for Jesus’ death. I accepted it as a child accepts what she is told by adults, but I don’t think I realized until I was older that I didn’t really understand it. That is probably one reason why I had trouble relating to Jesus. I saw the usefulness of his lessons, but I just didn’t get the need for his crucifixion. After all, if the Christian God was all-forgiving, why would He need such a sacrifice?
Catholics have the sacrament of confession. This is where you confess your sins to a priest. He tells you the necessary penance and offers the Christian God’s forgiveness. I have talked to several Catholics that feel uneasy going to confession. There is definitely some personal shame in having to rehash your mistakes to someone who wasn’t involved in the situations. I always felt like going to confession was the punishment for your sins, and penance was more something that the priest made up to make you feel better. I never understood the need to embarrass yourself about something you were already sorry for and had probably already attempted to fix.
I understood the point of confession better than I understood the idea that we were already born with blights on our souls from Adam and Eve, a story that I didn’t believe. How could a baby be a sinner? When I was a Catholic, I was raised with the belief that the Christian God was perfect. I could never comprehend how a perfect Being could hold a grudge. This is probably why my experiences differ a little from the author’s. I definitely have feelings of inadequacy, but when I was younger it was more of feeling inadequate for others rather than inadequate for the Christian God. I felt that a perfect god would accept me as I was. Now that I’m a polytheist, I no longer see Deities as being perfect. I see Them as great and wonderful, but not perfect. I probably worry more now about being accepted by my Deities because I feel like They are not all-accepting. I don’t see this as bad or wrong, just different. I do think my Deities accept me more than I realize.
My feelings of inadequacy were probably exacerbated by being raised with the idea of sin. The idea of starting out imperfect. I’d rather own my imperfections as my own lessons rather feel like I inherited some blight. However, I can’t say that I still wouldn’t struggle with feeling inadequate if I hadn’t been raised with the idea of sin. I don’t blame the Church for my feelings of inadequacy because I think there are so many factors involved. I see my lack of self esteem as a personal imperfection that I have to work on, not as something drilled into me by outside forces. My thoughts are definitely colored by my bipolar disorder. I know that some of my feelings are do to chemical imbalances. Thus, although I am definitely shaped by my experiences, it doesn’t seem right to blame outside forces for some of my internal issues. That is just my viewpoint concerning myself because of how I have seen my illness affect my thoughts and feelings.
I do agree with the author that a religion where everyone needs to be saved does promote an anti-human theology. I cannot agree that it affected me the same way that it affected the author because, as a child, I simply believed that the Christian God was all-accepting, even if this is not what the Church intended to teach me. I left the Church because I simply disagreed with a number of it’s views, not because I felt that it harmed me in any way. I left the Christian God because I felt like our relationship was not working. I considered my participation in the Catholic Church as a way to honor the Christian God, but eventually I began to differentiate between my relationship with the Church and my relationship with that God. Both did not work for me, so I moved on. I apologize if this post is a mess. I just wanted to get it done for a friend. I hope it suffices.