Why Are We At War With Ourselves? An Ex-Evangelical Analysis.

Why Are We At War With Ourselves? An Ex-Evangelical Analysis.

Healing is the end of conflict with yourself.

Stephanie Gailing, Astrologer

Yesterday, I came across this piece of wisdom that immediately began turning my wheels. It sparked the inspiration for this post as I wish to explore why it is that we, humans, are at war with ourselves. While being an enemy to ourselves might be a prevalent characteristic across many different cultures and social demographics, it does seem to be highly observable among the religious and is often a major talking point of the ex-religious when sharing our experiences.

For those of us who are recovering from toxic religion, the need and/or struggle to end self-destruction is a common theme. In fact, it is that very need/struggle that has propelled many of us away from the toxic messages of our religion.

I came to the conclusion that my religion was keeping me from not only treating others how I’d want to be treated, but it was keeping me from treating myself how I would want to be treated.

I had to leave in order to thrive. However, if we aren’t prepared, leaving religion produces even more reasons for us to self-destruct, including family rupture, shame, cognitive dissonance, guilt, and isolation. Unfortunately, we know the rhetoric of our religion and the beliefs of our loved ones. Even so, I couldn’t stay, and many others can’t either.

I know it wasn’t the intention of my Sunday school teachers, my Reverend Grandfather, or my parents to put me at war with myself. I don’t believe that it is the intention of most believers. Honestly, they’re scared shitless too. However, there is a generation of us out there that are victims of this toxic religious message and we do have the receipts to prove it. It is my sincere hope that this post is read by believers as a teaching tool and not to point fingers. Self-destruction is a major societal problem and it does affect us all.

So, back to answer the question:

Why are we at war with ourselves?

From the moment we are born we learn we are broken.

We learn we are bad.

We are taught that we are the reason our best friend Jesus (through music and Sunday school lesson reinforcement) had to get beaten, tortured, nailed to a cross to bleed dry until death.

We learn it is our fault that another human, again, our best friend Jesus, was treated this way.

I remember hearing messages that every time I sinned (which when I was a child was swearing, lying, or listening to secular music) I was driving the nails in again.

Some of us processed this on a deep cognitive level and it produced major trauma. Some of us experienced this before we could even tie our shoes. To make matters worse, we learn that we are so rotten we deserve to burn in hell for ETERNITY, unless we accept and believe in the “good news” of our best friend Jesus’ gory death.

Is it any surprise that we hated our own guts?

Fast forward to our adolescence, or when we began thinking about sex. Some of us were attracted to others of the same gender. Some of us were attracted to both genders. None of this was our choice. None of it we made happen, yet, the damage was already done. We already heard the hateful rhetoric. We heard the bigotry and what “God” thought about us. So, automatically, we hated ourselves even more and feared that God and our own family would abandon us if they ever knew.

Some kids find out the hard way and their family actually abandons them. Many are sent to abusive conversion therapy programs. Some commit suicide which is the ultimate war on oneself that can never be reversed. Most of these tragic outcomes can be traced back to the original motive-shame.

I believe that the shame religion produces, in my case evangelical/fundamental Christianity, either gets digested and internalized OR it is projected onto others. The shame needs to go somewhere.

Those of us who digested and internalized it are the ones who become self-destructive. The others find the scapegoats to project their own shame/guilt onto. In my experience and observation, the LGBTQ community has been the major group that the evangelical church has shamed, followed by non-believers, alcoholics, addicts, democrats, and recently, progressive Christians.

It’s easy to see how this happened. Everyone is a victim of this toxic religious message of shame. The only reason people are not traumatized by the cross, hell, or being left behind in the rapture, is because they have these other groups to look down on that are worse (more sinful) than them. Having a group to throw stones at props them up into a false sense of moral superiority and keeps them feeling safe from a tyrannical God.

This is religious abuse and Jesus called this dynamic out time and time again. No one can cast the first stone.

In conclusion, we aren’t broken. We aren’t rotten. We all deserve unconditional love. We aren’t born with a destination of hell that only can be altered by saying some words in some specific prayer. If you have negative beliefs about yourself, chances are those beliefs were put into you by an external source.

We aren’t ever going to please the God of evangelical/fundamental Christianity or the God of other toxic religions. This God was created to be a permissive being allowing abuse where his good news is actually horrifying. But the real good news is we begin to heal when we stop being at war with ourselves, and the really good news is healed humans not only end the war on themselves but end the war on others.

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