This is a big one for me. Sin is slavery. You are a slave to sin. Only God can free you from your sin. How the hell can people say this one with a straight face? Yet I have literally heard it many times. And this one doesn’t even require a long explanation or deep logic. The way to free yourself from slavery is…to do exactly as you’re told and never stray for fear of punishment? WTF? How is doing whatever I want slavery and obeying every command freedom? It’s as stupid as that one Transformers movie where Optimus Prime says, “We’re giving you freedom!” followed a moment later by “Fight for us or die!” THAT’S NOT FREEDOM!
To be fair, I do kind of understand how they can say that with a straight face and actually believe it. The answer to that can be found in the modern psychology of emotionally abusive relationships. There are many striking and disturbing similarities between Christian belief and the mindset of someone stuck in an abusive relationship. Here is a list of things which can be a sign of an abusive relationship:
Psychological abuse can look like:
- Humiliating or embarrassing you. *The church is often happy to do this on God’s behalf
- Constant put-downs. *The Bible is full of verses saying you are worthless and only God gives you value
- Hypercriticism. *The Bible is full of verses explaining how horrible man is
- Refusing to communicate. *This one is self-fulfilling. This is why people are always desperately looking for “signs”. Imaginary beings don’t communicate, so you look for something you can interpret as communication.
- Ignoring or excluding you. *A punishment in some churches, notably the Jehovah’s Witness church. Also a punishment, though not always “official”, in many other churches for those who leave. It’s a particularly slimy practice, in my opinion, designed with intent. In a church that separates you from the outside world and influence everyone you know and love is in the church. Because if they’re not in the church they’re a “bad influence” and you should not associate with them. Then they spend months and years telling you how miserable people are without God, how it is emotionally devastating to be without God. If you leave the church every single person who loves you evaporates with your membership and you are completely alone. And guess what? You’re miserable. It’s emotionally devastating. They were right! But it’s not God you’re missing. It’s every friend and family member you didn’t distance yourself from already, on the church’s orders.
- Extramarital affairs. *Does not apply to imaginary relationships
- Provocative behavior with opposite sex. *Does not apply to imaginary relationships
- Use of sarcasm and unpleasant tone of voice. * Does not apply to imaginary relationships
- Unreasonable jealousy. *Hello!
- Extreme moodiness. *The entire Old Testament. One example, when the Israelites recovered the Arc of the Covenant from their enemies. There were specific rules about touching and moving it. They didn’t follow those. Some men loaded it onto a cart and began happily hauling it back to camp instead of waiting for the priests and their arc carrying sticks. All of this was fine. Until the cart hit a bump and one man, fearful that the Arc of his beloved God would fall, reached out to steady it and was struck dead for touching it. It does not get more moody than killing a man for doing exactly what all the men there had just done, except this time because he was concerned about the safety of YOUR property.
- Mean jokes or constantly making fun of you. *Does not apply to imaginary relationships
- Saying “I love you but…” *Does not apply to imaginary relationships
- Saying things like “If you don’t _____, I will_____.” *Oh, I know this one! The answers are “do exactly as I say” and “light you on fire for all eternity”!
- Domination and control. *Ding, ding, ding!
- Withdrawal of affection. *Many Christians believe Hell is separation from God
- Guilt trips. *The church happily picks up any slack here
- Making everything your fault. *I realized long ago that in the church I was in, I never got credit for anything good I did. I had to thank God for the food I worked for. But when it came to bad things, I always got credit for those. Even if the devil was involved, I let the devil in. I never once got credit and I always, always got blame.
- Isolating you from friends and family. *Many fundamentalist churches do this. Even the Catholic church won’t let you marry someone outside of the church. They have to be initiated in your cult, which takes months, before you get permission.
- Using money to control. *They have other methods of control
- Constant calling or texting when you are not with him/her. *Does not apply to imaginary relationships
- Threatening to commit suicide condemn you to Hell if you leave.