Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The God of Childhood

In a book I was reading by Karen Armstrong (A History of God), she pointed out that the Western Christian God became a terrifying thing in the West. With the slightest whim, the Western God would send you to Hell. In certain later Protestant faiths (and parts of Catholic Europe), the idea that God had already selected those that would be saved rendered freedom of choice irrelevant. God had final say over everything and you, pathetic creation of His, had no say. After all, He created you. So shut up and accept His destiny for you.

Looking over my life, I realize that somewhere along the way I inherently took on that view. I don't believe it was something that I had just been taught but it was the result of a mixture of feelings and ideas that formed a bizarre union within my mind. I've talked about this view before on a different blog at a different time. I want to return to this again and go into greater depth. 

God, for me, was a great burden. By believing in His existence, I accepted that I had no right to make meaningful life decisions. God would whisper through his Holy Ghost who the woman was that I would marry. God would require certain things from me. God would determine whether I went to Heaven or some lesser Kingdom. After all, it was his place and I was merely some poor creature trying to get him to notice me enough to pick me for his team. God would do and demand all these things of me because He was God and I was something he had created.

I never felt adequate enough for God's love, even as a child. The idea that God could love me seemed impossible. After all, he had made better people than me. There were better children than me out there. People that were more obedient, more intelligent, more talented, more everything than me. It seemed quite unlikely that God would choose me in this vast universe.

I never felt like I got enough love growing up in my family. My friends name my hugs after me. They're a bear hug. Growing up, those were the kinds of hugs I wanted. I wanted to be swept up in an embrace in strong arms, by both my mom and dad. I wanted to be told "I love you" without me having to say it first. I wanted my dad to not be disappointed in me for choosing to play with toys instead of chopping wood. I wanted my mom to read bed time stories to me as a child. I wanted to go on walks with my parents like other families did in my ward. I felt loved but not as much as I hungered for.

No doubt this had a strong influence on my perceptions of God. I knew my parents loved me. I knew that they were aware of my needs. However, I felt like a burden on them. I was something that they tolerated at times no matter how desperately I wanted their love and validation. I struggled to believe that God could love me for most of my childhood.

What caused irreparable harm to that relationship was my religion's view on homosexuality. When I finally accepted I was gay in my later teenage years, the view of the Mormon Church was firmly entrenched in my mind. What had been this idea of God tolerating my existence and maybe loving me became God just tolerating my existence. The words abomination and faggot ravaged my mind with ease. There was no defense against such words. I already believed I was disgusting and pathetic. But now I believed that that view was supported by the great Author of the universe. 

I think it's no surprise that I would cry at night when I stopped to think about just how loathsome I was before God. Honestly, I had never once acted on my feelings as a child. My inadequacies came not from acts I had carried out but from simply what and who I was. God didn't hate the sin. He hated the sinner. He hated the entirety of my being. My sin was from being born. I felt caught between wanting to die because God hated me and being scared of killing myself because I'd be saddled with the sin of suicide and lose my place forever with God. It seemed to me, as a child and young adult, that there was simply nothing I could choose to do that wouldn't draw the ire of God. 

I was royally screwed.

I confess to seeing God in logical, legal, and cold terms. As much as I wanted to believe in a Being that was Love and Mercy, I couldn't and still can't see it. When I read through the scriptures I saw the great Law Giver and not some pathetic Being that surrendered his all in some mystical act to save us from our sins. I see the God of Wrath. I see the Great Judge. And as a believer, I stood condemned and hated by him. I harbored hope that God would simply kill me so that I wouldn't have to do it myself.

Those were thoughts I had years ago and those were beliefs I once held. I do not hold such ideas now. God is like the boogeyman: frightening but finally banished to the past. I will never forget as a child praying to know if God loved me. I had wanted so desperately to know that the supposed Father in Heaven actually knew and loved me. Even more, that he wanted me as one of his children. Yet the only response I got in my prayer was this sense that I was wasting God's time. With a sense of dismissal I felt that God had spoken to me "Of course I love you; now go away." 

I have forever despised the cruel and tyrannical God of the conservative evangelical Christians. I hate their view of God because it is the God of my childhood. I hate that God with every fiber of my being. He is not worthy of my belief. What God thinks it moral to ignore the pleading of a child wanting to know that He loves them? What God ignores the pleas of parents and children for food and safety so that they might live another day? What God cares more about the afterlife while condemning people to Hell or Outer Darkness or some arbitrary Kingdom for acts they did in this life? What God simply creates our situation and then allows great evil to occur without taking an interest in it except to whisper tickling words into his prophets' ears about pointless "evils" like pornography, gambling, and voting to keep gays from marrying? 

God cares about social values? No. God does not. But I have talked too long about God in this post. I will pick this up again later. 

No comments:

Post a Comment