A Three Year Old, David & Goliath, & God’s People

My three year old stepson was recently exposed to a lot of Bible stories and has been recounting them to us with great flourish. One story in particular has really stuck with him and he loves to tell it to us over and over again: David and Goliath. I take issue with the violent nature of that story, now that I’m a mom, and wonder why on earth it’s a favorite for teaching to young children. I’ve had to repeatedly explain to my stepson that the point of the story is not how exciting it is to kill a giant, but that sometimes people have to do very brave things to protect themselves and the people they love. My stepson was pretending that everything was a giant to be killed; as he whipped his sling around (usually a sock) he would shout that he was killing ____ in God’s name (!!!!). We naturally put a stop to that. How can anyone expect a three year old to respond differently, though? Tell a child that story and all he’ll remember is the excitement of whirling a sling around and killing something. The child has no understanding of killing and death, of course, but that is what he will latch onto. After a lot of discussion I’ve noticed my stepson has begun to alter his version of the story to better match up with what I’ve taught him, which is encouraging.

Another point I’ve had to discuss with him is bravery. In the version of the story he learned, God blessed David and made him brave enough to fight Goliath. I’m trying to instill into my stepson that people can be brave even without being blessed from above. People can certainly ask for help through prayer etc., but we each have a lot of strength within ourselves and can do brave things on our own. So far my explanations have been met with adamant replies that things have to be like the story said they are, but that’s okay. So long as he’s hearing more than one side of things on regular basis, then I am content. I realize that he thinks everything in the world is either black or white, right now, and if some people say one thing is true while other people say something else is true… that’s confusing.

The remaining part of the story I have yet to address is the part where Goliath is attacking “God’s people.” Even in a book written for tiny children, the concept of Israel as being extra special to God is worked in as fact. This bothers me. The whole concept of one group of people being “God’s people” bothers me a lot. Continue reading

Article: Goddess with Us: Is a Relational God Powerful Enough?

A very interesting approach to the concept of an omnipotent divinity. Read it here.
Previously, I had never heard of a relational divinity. The beliefs I was raised with taught that the God of The Bible was omnipotent, and, if he were not then he would be a sham not worth worshiping. Indeed, I found him unworthy of my worship because I could not accept him as both good and omnipotent.

Interview with an Ex-Fundie: Meet Ashlee

Meet Ashlee, a young woman who is an ex-fundie, happily married, and a Christian. Thank you for sharing your story, Ashlee!
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What do you consider your current worldview/religious beliefs to be?

Christian – Having a relationship with God and not the church. Politically, I would consider myself moderate.

How did you become involved with Christian Fundamentalism?

I was born into it. Until I moved out of my parent’s house I had no choice with what I wanted to do. My parent’s controlled everything.

What sort of church(es) did you attend while in fundamentalism?

IFB – very conservative

How did Christian Fundamentalism affect your home life (relationship between parents, relationship between parents and children, relationship between siblings, discipline methods, lifestyle choices, etc.)?

I think it caused tension between my parents and me because I was always afraid of getting in trouble. Being a PK I always had to play the part of being the good Christian girl. I didn’t have the same thinking as my parents. I felt like I couldn’t be true to myself. I felt more like a fraud. Moving out of their house I feel like now I can be authentic. With the control they had over me I couldn’t think for myself. It was either the Bible way or the highway with them.
Was patriarchy (male headship) present in your home, church, or relationships with other people? If so, how did it make you feel at the time? How do you feel about patriarchy now?

My dad was head of the home and also the church, so I got strictness in both the home and church. I do not agree with males feeling like they can dominate the female. Being brought up in the IFB the men teach you that they have control over you. 

What were you taught about sex before marriage or sex in general? How has that affected your relationships (dating, marriage, or otherwise)? How have the teachings affected your opinion of your own body?

Growing up in a strict conservative Christian home the topic of sex was not brought up. I know in some Christian homes it was an open topic, and in others it was a very closed never talked about topic. I grew up with the subject never being brought into conversation. Why my parents chose that option is beyond me. Maybe they hoped if they kept their children “innocent” and naïve they would never have to worry about one of their daughters becoming pregnant. Being much younger than my oldest sisters I don’t know if my parents at some point had the intimate “sex talk” with them. Perhaps my mother was the one who gave that talk, and maybe waited until their wedding day, assuming they were both virgins. I learned from looking at porn and reading about sex and talking to certain friends. I think you should be allowed to do whatever you are comfortable with doing with your body. 
My mother was a funny individual who didn’t even give me the talk about girls getting their period. The first time not having a clue what was going on with my body I felt as if something seriously wrong was happening to my body.

Do you have any memories that stand out in regards to your experience with fundamentalism (you can share as many as you’d like)?

I remember always being scared talking to friends. Even about dumb stuff just being afraid of getting in trouble with my parents. The control my parents had over me was just wrong. A parent and child relationship should be based on love and not using an intimidation tactic.

When did you start to question Christian Fundamentalism? What led up to this?

When my parents told me I was going to a strict Baptist college without me having a say in the process because they didn’t approve of a guy. Although before that I always knew my parents were strict and the way they disciplined wasn’t right.
Do you notice areas of your life where fundamentalism is still impacting you?

Not really. I’ve kind of changed.

Did you ever feel abused* by any aspect of or adherent to Christian Fundamentalism?

I believe there was a lot of emotional and psychological abuse. My dad always told us to keep stuff to ourselves and not tell anybody stuff that was said. Which kind of screws with your head. Like why so much secrecy? Also, there were a couple of times he took physical discipline too far, and caused severe bruising.

What do you think Christian Fundamentalism gets wrong? What do you think it gets right?

It gets a lot wrong. Music, dress, rules, and much more. I really don’t think they get anything right. They lack in teaching God’s agape love, and focus too much on rules. The Baptist church seems too similar to the catholic church… both are focused on works.
How do you think fundamentalism has impacted the world’s view of Christianity? Should Christians be trying to change that view? If so, how do you think they can?

I believe the Baptist church has caused people to turn away from church because of their corrupt teaching. I believe God shows His love to His children. Baptists should turn away from looking the part of the good Christian.

What would you say to someone who is considering joining Christian fundamentalism?

I would advise them not to join. It’s more of a cult/religion.
What would you say to someone who is considering leaving Christian fundamentalism?

I would try to help them as much as I can. Especially if they were having issues with the pastor giving them problems and pressuring them to stay.

* “Abuse is physical, sexual, emotional, economic or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that frighten, intimidate, terrorize, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, injure or wound someone” (source: The National Domestic Violence Hotline ). Abuse may have taken place in the home, church, religious school, etc. or could have stemmed from specific teachings and self-imposed adherence to such teachings. 

Interview with an Ex-Fundie: Meet Anne

Meet Anne, a Bible-believing Christian who was raised in fundamentalism.

What sort of church(es) did you attend while in fundamentalism? 

It was basically a fundamentalist mega church. It had its own school, and it easily developed into its own culture. (You see the same people six days a week—five days in school and at least once on Sunday. They see all your choices, everything you wear, every word you say.)

Was patriarchy (male headship) present in your home, church, or relationships with other people? If so, how did it make you feel at the time? How do you feel about patriarchy now? 

Fundamentalism has a sickeningly low view of women: Congratulations, you have a womb. I understand that, however much we like to think of equality, this is still very much a man’s world; but I am strongly against fundamentalism’s subpar view of women. Yes, patriarchy was very strong in my church and relationships. It made me feel inferior, which was utterly ridiculous considering the people I was being subjected to. I was an above average student in high school and college, but yet I was supposed to be “under” people whose intellects were inferior to mine. It was very disappointing. I also recall one time in college when I presented a plea to do a fundraiser for a project I was working on, and I got turned down rather unceremoniously. As a last resort, I had a guy in my group go talk to the administration; he got it cleared the first time he asked. Also on a humorous note, I worked in a department during college, and a guest visited our office, which was made up of mostly men. When I walked in, the ultra conservative guest had his back to the door and was going on about how good it was to see an office full of men.
When he turned around, he saw me, was flustered when my supervisor told him what a good worker I was, and told me to “learn from all these men here.” I know I said it was a humorous anecdote, but now that I think about it, it’s been four years since that happened. And I can still remember his words. I don’t question my worth now, but I can only imagine the damage that would do to someone younger, more impressionable. 


What were you taught about sex before marriage or sex in general? How has that affected your relationships (dating, marriage, or otherwise)? How have the teachings affected your opinion of your own body?

·  NO sex before marriage. And after marriage, you just do it as often as your husband wants. After all, “children are an heritage from the Lord”! Because of that mindset, fundamentalism bullies women into dressing in ways that hides their shape and cause them to be unattractive, rather than celebrating the differences between a man and a woman.

· I’ve never been in a serious relationship, and I’m not sure I want one. I’m not sure I could handle it, because I sure as hell don’t want kids. Not even sure I want to have sex. Not sure I want to bare the body I’ve been taught to hide, not sure I could. And that’s pathetic. 

· Funny you should ask. I’m a size 0-2, on rare occasion a 4. I have a nice hourglass figure. My stylist says I have beautiful, shiny hair; my optometrist says my eyes are intriguing. I get stopped by strangers who want to meet or ask for my number; I get lots of things “on the house” or discounted. And I’m ridiculously insecure. I just can’t shake off the years of hearing that my body (even just baring my shoulders in a sleeveless top) is for my husband’s eyes only. I look in the mirror and I don’t see what other people can see. Yes, I walk with confidence in my step, but it’s an affected confidence. Because deep down, I still question if I’m good enough and if I’ll ever be pretty.

When did you start to question Christian Fundamentalism? What led up to this? 

It was a process, as is everything. I questioned slowly, changing slowly the summer after high school. But it wasn’t till college that I truly revolted against fundamentalism. I questioned; those in authority decided I needed to be “broken,” and so my hell began. 


Do you notice areas of your life where fundamentalism is still impacting you? 

Relationships, mainly. I don’t want to go through life alone, but, honestly, I’m afraid to date if anybody ever decided I was worth dating. 


Did you ever feel abused* by any aspect of or adherent to Christian Fundamentalism? 

This . . . this is where it hurts. I never classified it as abuse; I considered it bullying. But I guess you can call them one and the same. 

In college, I did the unthinkable: I questioned my salvation. I told two faculty members on the one condition that we keep it between the three of us, and they agreed. They instructed me not to tell my friends, but I did, because I wanted my friends’ prayers and help. Next thing I knew, I was meeting with the Bitch of Women (excuse me Dean of Women . . . stupid autocorrect), my dorm supervisor, and the faculty members I had trusted to keep my troubles secret. They said they betrayed my secret because they needed to consult someone who better knew how to help me. Interestingly, they never consulted a pastor. In the end, they decided to allow me to return for my last semester of college, but I was required to do a weekly Bible study. The administration decided that I needed to be “broken,” so they tried to keep me from seeing my friends, and they had some meetings with the roommate I lived with. I was watched all the time, and that gets to your head after a while. And then I learned that unless I professed to be a Christian, I would not be allowed to graduate. 

I panicked. What was I going to tell my parents? I had spent seven semesters, thousands of dollars, and now was carrying a student loan—all for nothing? All because I just wanted to make sure I was truly saved, that Christianity was truly the right answer to life’s problems? 

I got sick. I was so upset I couldn’t hold anything down except a few crackers for a meal, which prompted health problems. And, honestly, who can think logically when you’re not healthy and being watched? I was hurting, and there was no outlet for my hurt. There’s only so long a person can live like that before they make some really bad calls. Thing about bad decisions—they usually lead to more of the same kind. And when I looked at the inevitable train wreck, I wondered, ‘How did I get here?’ Well, I got there because I got on the train, and the only reason I got on the train is that I didn’t know where it was going. Because if I’d known where this was going, I never would have asked those faculty members for help. 

In the end, I made a grand and glorious conversion, believing I had truly become a Christian. The people at college told me it was “God’s will” to stay up there and “grow,” but the only jobs available were ones for which I was severely overqualified—working at a bakery, waiting tablets, etc. I accepted a position waiting tables, but about this time, I caved and told the story to the people I trust most. Their hearts broke for me and asked me to return to my home state. They pointed out that it’s seldom God’s will to not provide for my needs: these jobs weren’t going to pay my basic rent. 

They were right. I returned to my home state and promptly got a job in my field. But I was far from okay, so the people who I trusted helped me pick up the pieces. They listened to me. They cried with me. They loved on me. They gave me space. They gave me time. They brought me back to life and showed me that I had been pressured into doing things that I’d never intended to do, to say things I’d never believed, that I had been used. 

It took about a full year to recover, but I’ve changed— 

· I’m more serious now. I still joke, but my natural disposition is to be serious. This was highly disconcerting to people who knew me as a bubbly, vivacious person, but I’m more comfortable with a solemn demeanor. 

· I only wear black, gray, and white. I don’t feel comfortable in colors; I like to blend in, to fly under the radar, to observe and not be observed. I’ve been told that’s sad; I know it bothers people. But colors look too bright on me; they’re uncomfortable. 

· I’m skeptical. I believe people want to hurt you until they can prove their intentions otherwise. Even if they prove they just want to be friendly, I harbor suspicions about their motives. I guess once you’ve been betrayed by someone you trusted, you start to wonder who’ll do it next. 

· I guard personal information. That’s what got me in trouble the first time: I gave away information, I told them I doubted. Now I don’t even give my real name in coffee shops or restaurants; I took down all my pictures on social media for a while. There were days I just stared at people instead of answering simple questions. I couldn’t afford to let anything slip, I thought. 

· I don’t volunteer anything. Ask me my birthday, and, if I know you, I’ll tell you. Otherwise, I’ll never volunteer it, and I’m perfectly okay with that. Spew your opinions my way, but I’ll never mention mine unless you specifically ask for it. Want advice? Sure, ask away, but I’ll never bring it up unless you ask. Casual conversation, yeah, I’ll do it; but anything personal, forget it. 

· I don’t care what you think. I really don’t. Aside from a few select people, I don’t give a flip what you think. It’ll go in one ear and out the other, although I may make a note of where you stand on an issue just so I know not to bring it again. You can say whatever you want, and I’ll shrug and go do my own thing. I. Don’t. Care.

What do you think Christian Fundamentalism gets wrong? What do you think it gets right? 

· Oh, that’s easy. Christian fundamentalism goes wrong when it strays from the Bible. Christianity by its very nature follows the writings of Scripture, so when men impose their wills on their followers, rather than the teachings of the Bible, bad things are bound to happen. (Does that mean that everything in the Bible should be mimicked today? No, I don’t think so. Many aspects of the Bible were cultural to that era.)

How do you think fundamentalism has impacted the world’s view of Christianity? Should Christians be trying to change that view? If so, how do you think they can? 
· Unfortunately, yes. Churches like Westboro drag the name of Christianity through the mud. When people ask me what I believe, I don’t reply with a label. The world, at least in America, sees Christianity as a bunch of angry, sign waving chauvinists, but that perception isn’t true of all Christians. In fact, I would argue that such behavior is not something a true Christian would be doing. 

· Yes, they should! But the only way to change that perception is to stop making that perception a reality. People think churchgoers/Christians just like to judge you. How do we change that perception? Well, we stop judging everyone who walks through our doors! We drop the us-versus-them mentality. We stop pointing fingers at those who aren’t like us. We put down the signs. We start listening to people when they speak. We begin answering their questions in love. We start loving like Jesus loved—and He loved everyone, the hurt, the abused, the outcasts, the unwanted. No ifs. No buts. No exceptions. 

· And how does that happen? How do we love more, judge less? That can only happen when we reset our worldview, when we stop playing God. Christian fundamentalism claims to serve God, but with the rules they inflict (with rules born out of their preferences, and not God’s commands), they have begun to play God. We say we serve a God who is the Great Physician (a metaphor meaning that He is capable of healing any wound—physical, emotional, mental). But too often Christian fundamentalists take it upon themselves to try to “heal” or “mend” someone in whatever way they see fit, often times only further harming the person. In order to stop judging, fundamentalists must realize that they are in no place to judge, that this isn’t their call. They are not the Great Physician; they are the orderlies. It is their job to bring people to God, so He can help them. What arrogance it takes to think that they know better than God, that they have the right to judge!


What would you say to someone who is considering joining Christian fundamentalism? 

· Question. A defining trait of true Christianity is that Christians guide their lives by the Bible. When you hear something from the pulpit, from a teacher, from whoever, question it immediately. Ask yourself, “Does this line up with the Bible’s teachings?” “Is this a Biblical command, or is it this person’s preference?” If you find that the beliefs you’re being taught are a collection of the leader’s preferences, then you’re looking at a cult, not Christianity. 

· Be extremely careful who you question. If you find yourself realizing that you’re looking at a cult and not the religion you thought you signed up for, be extremely careful who you voice your concerns to. Many leaders in fundamentalism claim to have an open-door policy, but the moment you genuinely question, they see you as a dissident to be crushed or “broken,” rather than helped. 

· Don’t be fooled. Every religion and organization has its dark side, because every organization and religion has people. Christianity is no exception. Don’t let the white-washed buildings, the plastic smiles fool you. Because people in this day and age, given the chance, will hurt you. 


What would you say to someone who is considering leaving Christian fundamentalism? 

· Be brave. You will be judged, despised, and possibly threatened. There will be days when it will suck, because you’re choosing to leave everyone you know, everything you’ve been taught. In the eyes of those you leave behind, you’re betraying them. But you aren’t. You’re choosing to live a different lifestyle than what they prefer, and that doesn’t make you a bad person. It makes you different, and they have been taught, as were you, that anyone different is bad. Give them time. They may see things your way; they may elect to “agree to disagree”; they may never want anything to do with you again. 

· Remember what’s happened to you while you were in fundamentalism—not because you wish them harm, but to remind yourself, on the days you vacillate, why you chose to leave. 

· Take things one step at a time. Don’t go out, get a tattoo, a few piercings, dye your hair, and get wasted the first night you leave: give yourself time to find out who you want to be, not simply react to who you don’t want to be anymore. 

Know that you are not alone. Countless others have embarked on this same journey. Find other people like you and make new friends.

*“Abuse is physical, sexual, emotional, economic or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that frighten, intimidate, terrorize, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, injure or wound someone” (source: The National Domestic Violence Hotline ). Abuse may have taken place in the home, church, religious school, etc. or could have stemmed from specific teachings and self-imposed adherence to such teachings. 

Article: Growing Tired of Atheism

Please read the original here. The comments add so much to the overall point, as usual, so take time to read those as well.

I was pleasantly surprised to come across this article. It seems I’m not the only one who is becoming disgruntled with the nastiness that goes on amongst some atheists. I’m not an atheist, but that’s beside the point. Dividing people up into groups and then lambasting them for not thinking the same way you do is fundamentalism, regardless of the religious context. Many atheists are very nice and could care less what other people believe. I know a few of these people – they’re wonderful! Then, there are those who make a huge deal out of being anti-religion and enjoy slamming everyone who doesn’t agree with them – this is wrong. Christians don’t get the right to lord it over non-Christians; atheists don’t get to lord it over non-atheists; nobody gets to lord it over people who disagree with them. Simple.

I Used to Believe This Stuff… Ugh

These are things I was raised to believe as an Independent Fundamental Baptist (IFB). My parents may or may not have taught me these things, but they were most certainly taught or inferred by church, school, college, and fellow IFB.
  • Better use the right version of the Bible, KJV to be specific. Avoid all music that makes you want to move, so just go for old hymns and you’ll be safe.
  • Spank your children, don’t trust them, because they are born with a horrible sin nature and are really little monsters bound for Hell.
  • Send them to a strict Christian school or home school them yourself, because it wouldn’t do for them to pick up worldly notions or learn from a curriculum that wasn’t Christ-centered. Once they’re college age, be sure they attend a college that is KJV only, against contemporary music, and has all it’s p’s and q’s straight, biblically speaking. Ideally this college will implement strict curfews, dating rules, and remain in support of parental authority despite the age and status of the student.
  • Disregard science, history, and much else in favor of a collection of over-a-thousand-years-old writing from the Middle East. These writings are full of slavery (commanded by God), murder, rape, gender inequality, etc.
  • Global warming is a lie. The government is out to get you. Anything that promotes world-wide unity and peace must be the work of the devil (see Revelations). The end of the world is coming, probably soon, so things like environmentalism are a waste of time.
  • Question whether dating is biblical, probably decide to implement courting. Dad has lots of say-so, and it will be ensured that the two young sinners are never left alone together. God forbid they start kissing, touching each other, or engage in sex before getting married! Speaking of sex, it’s not to be spoken of – it’s somewhat of a shameful, dirty topic only to be discussed by married people.
  • Men are sexual beings who are hard-wired for lust. They can’t control themselves, so women must keep as much skin covered as possible. Women must also wear very loose clothing for the same reason. Women aren’t really sexual beings. Sex is really for the man’s pleasure, but women must put up with it as their wifely duty. If the wife doesn’t put out like the husband wants, it’s her fault if he has an affair.
  • Women should really stay and home and clean the house and take care of the kids. Men should be out bringing home the bacon. Men lead the home while women must submit to them, because the church submits to Christ and a husband and wife are to be an example of it.
  • It’s okay to tell people they are awful sinners, guilty of the murder of Christ, and on their way to Hell where they will burn forever and ever. Amen. It’s okay to impose IFB standards and beliefs on everyone else, and if they don’t like it and try to do something about it then they are persecuting the IFB. Separation of church and state can apply to everyone else except Christians, then, if it does, it’s persecution and discrimination against them.
This all sounds so ridiculous and horrible now. When you’re stuck in it though, having heard it all of your life, it seems right. IFB can be very cult-like: lots of brain-washing, guilt-tripping, implementation of bizarre rules, judgement of outsiders and any who don’t conform, and the declaration that they “have it right” while others “have it wrong.”