It’s been difficult for me to reconcile the different messages contained in the collection of works referred to as The Bible. Over the past few years I’ve been told that the book’s a good book. You can find memes regarding The Bible as a manual for life itself. Inspiration, poetry, hope – it’s all there.
But it’s not the only thing that’s there.
I have a hard time admitting that The Bible as I knew it was the manual for breaking my spirit. Not a metaphysical spirit, some amorphous thing that exists just beyond the touch of reality. No, I’m referring to that undefined part of a person that’s supposed to find joy, to recognize that each new day can bring happiness as well as sorrow.
If mine exists, it’s a cadaver that goes through the motions but doesn’t understand why. What should be a light is instead a ravenous shadow. If it was a person, it would be missing limbs, possessing a stitched hide, and moving to the beat of a mechanical heart.
Not all of this is metaphorical. Take original sin, for example. I grew up with the version championed by Augustine, Martin Luther, and John Calvin. It makes sense, if you’ve bought into the window dressing. Everyone has sin, from birth. You’re a terrible person in need of torture because of it. Only Jesus can forgive it. To get it, you’ll want to beg. The wanting is important. It’s how you know you’re trying hard enough.
How far can parents go to make a child understand? The Bible is a pretty big fan of strict discipline. Notice references to the rod, to the duty of parents to discipline their children, to the idea that children are gifts bestowed to adults. Children are deity-granted possessions that are supposed to obey parents in all things. The whole point? It’s okay to beat and cajole new humans so long as it promotes the faith. Child services didn’t exist in Judea.
The ends justify the means, here. But the ends can’t be known until after a person has died. In the meantime, everyone’s guessing what’s required of them. Some kids get to live in fairy tale homes filled with religious inspiration. Others get belittled and beaten until they beg for divine mercy. I got enough of the latter that it doesn’t matter how much I received of the former.
This kind of stuff still goes on in some Christian households, from parents that even mean well. They’ve either bought into the faith or were raised in it. How are they supposed to know what damage they’re causing? Kids can develop new neuroses and problems, all courtesy of a book that gives people permission to take things too far.
6 thoughts on “The Bible: A Manual For Breaking The Human Spirit”
Most people understand original sin as you describe. But in a larger sense it is not that man is born evil and horrible. It is that we are in a state of separation from God (as represented by the Garden of Eden mythology) and that Christ has been provided through whom we are redeemed and then back in the relationship with God.
I get that different views of Christianity will pick nits on Original Sin. The devil is in the details of what “state of separation” means, the terms and conditions surrounding redemption through Christ, and what “back in the relationship” means. Those three items alone have caused schisms in churches all over the world.
Different denominations (and individuals within them) arbitrarily weigh these things according to their needs. Nobody – and I mean nobody – is able to definitively say which verses and precepts are controlling in any given situation. I get that some people have a different view of Original Sin, but it doesn’t mean those views are somehow superior or more valid than others.
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I agree. Some people take christianity way too far! They hang on the bibles every word, and never stray from it. I’m not religious, but I dont think I could do it, even if I was.
The fundamental reason for the existence of western religions is control of the masses of people to serve the interests of the secular and religious elites. The masses are to shit up, work hard, and reap their rewards after they die so that the elites can have their rewards now. Can there ever be a more soul sucking institution?
In early civilizations, it was quickly realized that religions was a much better control system that using force. Guards have to sleep, all-seeing gods do not. As the religions gathered power, it was quickly seen that the secular rulers and religious rulers would be much better off cooperating than competing (although compete they did). Consider that it was the Roman Empire that provided the state power to make Christianity a major religion. The Romans! Can someone ring the irony bell, please. The Romans, hated as oppressors in the first century, become the beloved saviors of Christianity in the fourth century. The religious leaders, then out of power, fell all over themselves sucking up to the Romans once they were considered for state religion status.
Soul sucking is one thing, but soul crushing, well, then you have arrived, little religion!
I learned just a few years ago that Original Sin only holds up if the creation myth is actually true. No literal Adam and Eve, no Fall in the garden, means no Original Sin and no fallen race in need of redemption. Thus the Bible is believed to be way more than a book with stories and poetry and inspiration. It is the divinely inspired Word of God; inerrant and infallible. True Christians are required by their holy book to hate the gays and beat their kids.
Creation myth does not have to be true. It can be a mere poetic mythology to express a very true matter (for Christians and Jews) for the need to get back into proper alignment.Jews through the Law and Christians through Christ. In my case the story is irrelevant because I don’t need a story or proof that I cannot be redeemed on my own merits or efforts but need God’s grace through Christ. I am incomplete without it. The story is a graphic illustration of the separation expressed in understandable ways .
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