(I’m re-publishing this because I added an idem. Hope you like it.)
Last year, I wrote a post joking about going to Hell based on a discussion thread I posted on Beliefnet.com. It was meant to lighten the mood on a normally-heavy debate board. It was mostly successful, but there were several people who didn’t appreciate my sense of humor and implied that God wouldn’t either; I *am* in the Bible Belt, after all. After reading a few responses, I figured I’d better write a something a bit more serious. According to some people, here are the reasons I’m going to Hell.
Having the wrong political views.
But Here’s 5 Reasons Why American Evangelicalism Completely Lost Me
I’m citing this post by Benjamin Corey because item #1 speaks directly to what I’ve experienced. The person I dated before my husband was a deeply conservative Christian. It ended for a lot of reasons, but I’m mentioning this because being with him got me sucked into the Evangelical politics Benjamin mentions. It’s very disturbing how some people would judge your faith by whether or not you supported the Bush administration and/or the Republican party. It wasn’t as creepy as the movie Jesus Camp, but it still felt weird. As a then-Democrat, I learned very quickly to keep my mouth shut lest I be accused of “helping the Devil”. I can’t explain it any better than Ben does, but what got to me the most was that there really was a time when I thought God had abandoned me because of my beliefs. Before you scoff, consider that few things make you feel farther from God than the depression that comes along with untreated bipolar disorder. Why was it untreated, you ask? Well….
Seeing secular medical treatment. It wasn’t getting medical treatment that was the problem so much as the “lack of faith” that prompted me to seek said treatment instead of relying on God to heal me. In “Prosperity Gospel” circles (more on why it’s BS in another post), that can mean anything from having somehow lost my way to (gasp!) not being a Real Christian at all. The fact that I had gone back on medication after having tried the “supernatural healing” approach made it even worse because it was thought that I got sick again because I lost faith and God had taken away the healing. How this made sense to anyone I’ll never know, but it’s thoughts like this that can make someone already suffering from depression or something like it feeling even worse. If even God doesn’t love you, you must be a piece of crap, right? I actually began to wonder if the “diagnoses” of me having an unclean spirit that needed to be cast out were true after all. Again, scoff all you want; When you feel like something else is inside of you controlling your thoughts and actions the way you would in “mixed state”, you’d believe it too.
Strangely enough, I never *did* lose faith. I still believed and sought God throughout all of this. Take that!
Blaspheming the Holy Spirit. Despite the fact that it comes right from the source , I haven’t heard this one as often as the others. The only reason I’m mentioning it is because no one can tell me what this actually *means*. Was it laughing when I saw, “I found Jesus-He was behind the couch” on a T-shirt? Was it playing Cards Against Humanity and giggling at some of the less-disrespectful cards? Some of them *do* mention God or Jesus. When I see a really rude one I’ll say “that’s just wrong” or “that’s sacrilegious”, but I don’t bow out of the game. Was it when I used to play with Ouija boards as a teenager? I won’t touch the damned things now; they creep me out. Was it when a boyfriend started exploring Paganism in college? When a Catholic one stopped going to confession? He said he’d been made to do the “church thing” growing up and was enjoying the freedom. Was it when my friend told God to “shove it” when her husband died shortly after their son was born?
The definition that makes the most sense to me is, strangely again, not the one I hear most often. The way my former Southern Baptist church explained it to me was that blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is an ongoing, willful rejection of God. It’s not something you do out of anger or youthful ignorance, nor is it related to your choice of entertainment; that’s another matter altogether. It was also said that it’s not something a Christian can do because, if someone is willing to completely deny Jesus, they probably weren’t saved to begin with. If you’re asking this question, you probably haven’t committed this sin because if you had, you wouldn’t care.
As for the aforementioned Catholic, he never left the church; as much as he liked sleeping in on Sunday, he realized pretty quickly that nothing can take the place of Jesus. I wonder if this minor “straying” was a way of showing him that.
I’m happy for my brother. Before you say “huh?”, let me explain. My brother and his now-husband live in a state (Hawaii) that, after years of debate, finally allows same-sex marriage. They have been together for nearly 35 years but, because of their genders, somehow their relationship is less “real” and worthy of celebration than celebrities who ask for divorce via text message or leave after six months because the “honeymoon phase” is over and it’s not fun anymore.
Some in the more conservative circles would say that homosexuality is an “abomination” and that, by being happy for my brother, I’m somehow “condoning sin” or, worse, participating in it. I think this is ridiculous because even if I did believe homosexuality was a “choice”-and the hell my gay friends went through in trying to “make themselves straight” tells me it’s not-, I’m happy that someone I care about is happy. Period. It would be one thing if this happiness hurt someone else, but it doesn’t. It’s just there for him, his husband and everyone else to share in. I don’t see anything wrong with that.
I’m a feminist of sorts. I think women are equal to men and should be treated as such. I don’t see why this is a big deal.
Not trying to convert everyone I meet. I’ve had friends of other faiths (or none at all) for a long time. This isn’t a problem for most Evangelicals, but I heard some pretty nasty comments about how I needed to “convert” them so they won’t go to Hell. I see two things wrong with this view: 1) I was under the impression that it was the Holy Spirit who converted people, I was just the messenger, and b) I know from experience that the harder you push something on someone, the more likely they are to push back. Harder. That doesn’t mean you can’t talk about your faith; in fact, I do it all the time. I’m not aggressive about it or bring it up in every conversation, but I love learning and talking about Jesus and religion in general. I wasn’t raised a Christian, so this is a big change. I just don’t know why I would need to be aggressive about it when the people who showed me to Jesus were anything but. They didn’t just talk about the Gospel-they lived it. Even if they didn’t say word one about God, you could see Him written all over their faces and in their lives. That is how I want to be. I want to bring people to God the way they did for me. Like I said, though, He’s the one who does the “saving”. I just want to lead people to the door. I suck at it, but that’s another post.
These are just a few of the reasons I’ve been told I’m going to Hell. I’m not saying that doing the right things isn’t important because it is, but I’m not sure if that’s really the “point” of Christianity. I don’t know; I just want to be like Jesus. Perhaps I need to be thinking more about *that* than what other people say. One day at a time.