Saturday, April 9, 2011

How many ways can you interpret the bible?

Surprisingly, I actually watched television last night. This is surprising because I so very rarely watch television. Mostly because there's crap shows on like Jersey Shores or Desperate Housewives.

Anyways, last night my friend turned on the television and 20/20 is on. They featured a story on IFB churches (Independent Fundamental Baptists). We were hooked the first few minutes of the show starting.

It was horrific, to say the least.

They condone and encourage spanking/beating children to "break the will of the child" because it somewhere says to in the bible.  There's even videos (I'm sure on youtube) of pastors discussing how much to beat children. In some instances, the pastors beat the children.

A girl featured on there had been sexually abused and raped by a man. She went to her youth pastor for help (at the IFB church) and what does he do? He started sexually abusing her too. The man who raped her got her pregnant and she was whisked off to a different state and forced to give the baby up for adoption, while the rapist was allowed to continue going to church as though nothing was wrong.

What's worse is the poor girl (who was a young teenager during all of this), who was pregnant with her rapist's child, was forced to write a letter to his wife, apologizing for disrupting her marriage and life!

During the midst of the show, I turned to my friend and said, "I always find it fascinating how many different ways the bible is interpreted for people's motives."

And I'm sure some people thought, "Why don't they just leave the church?"

But from experience (not anything like what those people have been through), it's hard. People in churches are trained to say the right things and once you hear them over and over, it becomes a "fact" in your mind.

And if you grew up in an environment like that, where you were told that you're a child or a woman and the man is in charge, and you're subjected to that day in and out, I can definitely see where you start to pick up that mindset and fully believe it.

While I experienced nothing even remotely close to what those poor women suffered, I do understand the brainwashing part of it all.

I've been gone from church for almost 12 years and I still carry a few "things" that church ingrained in me.

For example, "A person who does not follow the way of Christ will not ever know true happiness. They will always be lost. They cannot ever know fully happiness unless they find their love for God."

I can't even tell you how many times that above phrasing was said to me. I seriously believed it. In fact, at random times in my life still, it crops up in my head.

I only went to church consistently for approximately four years of my life. I cannot imagine having gone my entire life or for much longer than I did, the things that people were brainwashed to believe.

My heart goes out to them and I hope they find the strength to leave their church.


mac said...

I'm thinking of the way the Catholic Church used the threat of excommunication as a tool to keep victims quiet. You or I might just laugh that off, but someone heavily indoctrinated to their sect could realy suffer emotional damage. No church = Hell for eternity.

Advocating beating children, slavery, and misogyny are just a few of the things I find repulsive about the Bible. It's full of putrid stuff :(

Buddhist_philosopher said...

Hi there - I wish you the best of luck on your journey through the world's religions. There is a lot of beauty to be found. And no doubt plenty of ugliness, but that's what you get for looking at humanity :)

I've been quite happily surprised that *through* my current religion, Buddhism, I've come to see much more of the beauty in other religions. For instance, you quoted:

"A person who does not follow the way of Christ will not ever know true happiness. They will always be lost. They cannot ever know fully happiness unless they find their love for God."

Well, what is "the way of Christ"? Is it to Love God and to love your neighbor as yourself? Well, maybe if we can find God in all things and really explore with it means to love our neighbors, then we will find happiness (even if we call ourselves Buddhists, Jews, Sikhs, etc).

I think there are liberating interpretations of all religions. There are also interpretations built on control, abuse, and downright hatred. And there is all the fluffy new-age stuff that you have to avoid too. ;)

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