I was a very devout Christian from childhood up to my early, maybe mid, forties.
These days, I don’t know what I am (religiously speaking).
As I look back over my life, I can see that not only did the Christian faith not help me much, but as some of its teachings were taught to me, it created obstacles in my life, and kept me stuck in harmful patterns or ways of thinking.
Supposing there is an afterlife with a Heaven and a Hell, and acceptance of Christ means a ticket into Heaven upon death, that works out just fine. I can sure see how that is beneficial later on.
Christianity, though, did not really help me with very much in the present life.
Any pain, problems, or stress I’ve had so far were not relieved by the Christian faith.
Prayer, Bible reading, believing in Jesus, volunteering at charities, attending church – none of that alleviated my problems.
None of those things, practices, or persons healed me of, or alleviated, my one-time depression, suicidal ideation, low self esteem, or anxiety (either the former Social Anxiety Disorder I had, or the GAD I still suffer. Go Google what GAD stands for if you don’t know.).
The Christian faith did not help me cope with the grieving process (the death of my mother years ago).
I had to figure that one out all on my own, too.
Christianity is, by and large, a very victim-blaming faith as most of its adherents practice and espouse it.
I’ve found it’s no use to go to other Christians to get encouragement or empathy, because the vast majority of them choose to either give unsolicited advice, shame, lecture, judge, victim-blame, or spiritualize everything (resulting in them saying if you are suffering from X, it’s because you are -insert spiritual reason here, such as: you’re not praying enough, you have unforgiveness in your heart, etc-).
A few months ago, I put the phrase “Christianity Did Not Work For Me” in Google thinking I’d find many blog posts or articles by, perhaps, Ex Christians who discussed how the faith let them down.
I was hoping to find people online I could commiserate with about this subject.
Instead, I found result after result of pages penned by Christians who were victim- blaming people who feel Christianity has let them down, and they are more into defending God and God’s reputation, than they were in comforting the wounded.
Off the top of my head, here are a few of the specific ways in which Christianity damaged me, compounded the issues I had, created some of the issues to start with, or aggravated them:
Some Christians consider themselves gender complementarian, a belief set about the biological sexes where they teach things such as, but not limited to, that men should have leadership over women, that women are inherently weak or should at least pretend to be dainty and frail to boost the insecure egos of men.
There is nothing about complementarianism, in other words, that makes a woman feel good or proud about being a woman.
My parents were complementarians, and they brought me to different complementarian (Southern Baptist) churches as I was growing up.
The messages I took away from complementarianism, despite its adherents swearing up and down that honestly they do find me, a woman, equal in value to a man, is that I am NOT worth as much as a man. I am a piece of trash. God doesn’t love me, or not nearly as much as he loves boys and men.
Complementarianism is certainly one portion of Christianity that kept me stuck and trapped in depression, having low self esteem, and as I’ve written in previous posts, complementarianism instilled in me codependent behavior (which further chipped away at what small self esteem I had, and made me attractive prey to bullies, users, abusers, and manipulators).
Christians I have tried talking to about my depression or anxiety, or Christian books I’ve read or TV shows I’ve watched about those subjects, are victim- blaming, and offer up solutions that actually intensified or prolonged my mental distress, not heal me of it, or improve my condition.
Many Christians incorrectly assume that all psychological problems are due to one’s own personal sin, and that all mental health problems can be cured merely by accepting Jesus as Savior, or else, by doing spiritual things such as praying more or reading the Bible.
Well, I had accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior before I reached the age of ten, I went to church regularly, I lived a clean life style, I used to read the Bible, I prayed, and despite the fact I’m an introvert, I forced myself to volunteer at homeless shelters, and I repeatedly asked God, in prayer over decades, to heal me of depression and anxiety – and I was never delivered of the depression and anxiety.
After my mother passed, and I tried reaching out to Christians, including family members, for emotional support, I got none. Most Christians gave me lectures, or shamed me for having grief in the first place (I was supposed to be stoic and act like Mom dying meant nothing to me), and some even used their answering machines to screen out my calls on the rare occasions I tried phoning.
Absolutely no Christian who found out I was struggling with grief walked with me through the grief. None of them wanted to weep with the one who weeps.
They couldn’t be bothered to just sit next to me with an arm around me as I cried, but preferred to tell me to just hurry up and get over the grief, while others gave me a list of stuff to do – get a new hobby, go to church more often, whatever.
I was told by yet other Christians my grief was nothing and not a big deal so long as there are malnourished orphans in Africa who have things worse than me.
I could go on and on with other examples of self- professing Christians who acted in an insensitive and inappropriate manner towards me in my grief.
Reading the Bible brought me no joy, comfort, or inner peace after my mother died.
I never felt the presence of God in my grief. I felt totally alone.
Nobody was there for me during those years, not Christians and not God.
I was bullied horribly by a few co-workers but in particular by a boss at one full time job I had. That was back in my really codependent days, so I could not confront those bullies.
I prayed and asked God to deliver me from the workplace abuse. Did he? No.
Christianity did not help me with depression, anxiety, grief, or any other of number of other problems I’ve had along the way.
I’m not seeing how Christianity has helped most people, either, not when I visit the sites for domestic abuse survivors or sites about spiritual abuse recovery.
I instead usually see testimony after testimony by those who say their church blamed them for whatever struggle they were dealing with, the church protected their abuser, or I see discussions about churches who refused to offer financial assistance to victims in need.
I see story after story on such sites of Christian rape victims being blamed by Christian university staff or counselors for having been raped.
I see gender complementarian church staff or nouthetic counselors blaming wives for their husbands abusing them, and giving them advice guaranteed to keep them trapped in abusive marriages, rather than in helping those women find freedom.
I do concede that historically, on occasion, Christians have done some wonderful things that have benefited their communities or culture at large, such as act as founders of schools or hospitals.
But I believe that Christians doing a good deed for someone else is the exception, not the rule, any more.
I do sometimes see Christians on Christian television shows say that they were dying of a brain tumor until they prayed, and on their next visit to the doctor, the doctor proclaims them totally healed.
I see Christians claim on these shows they were going bankrupt, pleaded to God for help, and the very next day, they were sent a financial windfall.
On those occasions, I think, why is God, if there is a God, helping THOSE people on this TV show, but he’s not helped me or a lot of the Christians I see on these forums and blogs?
I can see how if the Christian faith is true, that it pays off in the afterlife.
But how it helps in the here and now, I am not seeing.
I don’t think the Christian faith is of much benefit to the living.
The Christian faith could possibly be quite helpful if Christians actually followed the teachings of the New Testament, such as helping widows, the orphans, and weeping with those who weep, but my lived experience thus far in life is that most Christians are no better than most Non-Christians, and they are not doing as the New Testament instructs them.
Many Christians are selfish and either ignore the hurting, or they lecture and victim- blame the hurting.
Christians hate posts such as this one, by the way, this very one you are reading right now.
This sort of post makes many Christians defensive, uncomfortable, or they make all sorts of assumptions about the author, such as, they wrongly assume or want to believe, that I must be “doing Christianity wrong,” or I was not “really saved” to start with.
Such Christians will usually respond to a post like this one by trying to defend God or defend the faith.
Some will try to push the onus on the one writing a post like this.
Defensive Christians replying to posts like this one will try to suggest that if you want anything out of, or from, the faith, you are selfish, or you’re a WoF (word of faither)… even though the Bible itself does contain promises from God to the believer, and even though God says to come to him and petition him with all your needs and desires.
I mean, the God of the Bible is more than fine and dandy with me trying to get my own needs met, and even asking Him to meet those needs – but more often than not, God chooses to turn a deaf ear.
I was raised as a Southern Baptist, and Southern Baptists do not abide by “Word of Faith” teachings – they actually ridicule those sorts of teachings, so no, I am not, nor have I ever been, a WoF.
I was raised to be codependent, especially under gender complementarian teachings. I was taught by family and church that all good, godly females are codependent, so that it would be selfish of me to ever put me or my needs first.
So, I went through life, up until about my early 40s, putting other people and their needs before my own, and all it got me was exhaustion and resentment.
Me ignoring my needs, (which I was told was the feminine, biblical, godly, pious, thing to do), did not bring me peace, joy, meaning, or satisfaction.
By the way, one of the oddest responses I’ve seen to posts such as this one, from Christian apologists, is for them to go on and on about how the biblical promises I was believing in are not really for me, they were supposedly only for the original audience to whom they were first written, so it’s my fault for believing in those promises.
Further, this same type of apologist will explain that Christianity has been “taught wrong,” that too many Christians today teach the faith as a therapeutic tool, or as some way of getting one’s needs met, or overcoming painful trials of life. These apologists say that is not what the Bible is teaching, nor is that what the faith is about.
Okay, well, that actually plays into the overall point of my post: the Christian faith is of little use to people today.
There are some Christians who want to argue that even if the faith does not work, it is TRUE, and because it is TRUE, one should follow it anyway.
But you’re still stuck with this issue: even if I grant you the premise of your faith, that Jesus of Nazareth died on a cross and was raised in three days, that still does not change the fact that my relationship with this Jesus did nothing to help me with my anxiety, grief, depression, and other issues.
If I have a faith, I would like one that works NOW, not one that primarily or only works in the sweet by and by.
If the Christian faith (or whatever faith) cannot help me cope with, or heal from, pain and problems I have in this life, what good is that faith to me in the here and now?
I might as well ignore the Christian faith, or dabble around and see what, if any other faith, may work to help me cope with problems I face IN THIS LIFE.
I don’t need or want any more “pie in the sky” theology, where Christians shame or lecture me for thinking it’s selfish or dumb for me to look to the faith to help me with earthly life, and that I should just look forward to the day I drop dead and enter Heaven.
That is a non-answer, Christians. I want help NOW, with problems I face NOW, I am not interested in what happens after my body is put in a casket.
Telling me I will croak someday and then find myself floating on a cloud in Heaven playing a harp, does NOTHING to alleviate my anxiety now, or assisting me with any number of other earthly problems I have, so I don’t care about Pie In The Sky, or “being conformed to the image of Jesus,” or “bringing God glory with my present suffering.”
I’ve had to walk away from the things Christians and Christianity taught me to find anything resembling peace or happiness in this life.
Believing in Jesus and trying to “lose my life in (or for) Jesus,” did not give me a sense of purpose or clarity.
I actually have spent the last few years trying to figure out who I am and what I want, since codependency-pushing Christians brainwashed me to always think of others and how I can serve God or them, and not think of myself and what I want or need.
So, I arrived at adulthood not fully sure of who I am or what I want. I was finely tuned to what other people want and need, and I knew who they were, but I lacked an identity of my own.
Very little of what I got from the Christian faith helped me face problems or pain in life.
I remain perplexed at Christians who keep promoting the faith to non-believers as some sort of magical fix- all that will bring a person identity, meaning, or peace. Christianity sure didn’t have that impact on me.
I had to walk away from a lot of the faith to find solutions and to get away from beliefs that were contributing to depression and low self esteem.