Monday, May 11, 2015

How Could Christianity Insult & Injure You? (Toxic Christianity)

                Barna research reveals the rise of secularism and the abandonment of religion by many young people.1 In this day and age, quite a few young people believe it’s hip to be a secularist or an atheist.

            Apparently, in today’s Arab world, an appearance of being religious is more in vogue than being religious. WIN/Gallup International poll reveals one million Saudis who are “convinced atheists.”2

            Religion should draw people closer to God. Religion appeals to God, who loves people and strengthens them to live their lives victoriously. Outside of salvation, religion should enable its believers to live a fruitful life. Hence, religion, be it valid or invalid, ought to positively motivate and encourage its adherents.

            In the past, an aberration of religion was its reputation for genocides. The Christian crusades, Muslim conquests, Aryavarta-Lanka conflict, and Mahabarata wars are some instances of massacres in the name of religion. In our time, religion insults and injures people.

            So, people are abandoning religion. Not just Christianity, all religions are experiencing abandonment.

            Sure enough, the secular world has pounced on this opportunity by coining the term, Religious Trauma Syndrome and have established outfits such as Recovering From Religion.3 Then they utter ridiculously bewildering statements such as, “We are recovering from every imaginable religion: Baptists, Mormons, Catholics, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Hindus, Muslims, Lutherans, Pentecostals, Evangelicals, and many more,” 4 as if they have the cure to alleviate the problems of those abandoning religion. 

            Why do people abandon religion?

            People could abandon religion for their own selfish reasons i.e. to live a hedonistic life. Conversely, when religion fails to serve needy people, people abandon religion. 

            Would it be accurate to affirm the failure of religion to serve its adherents? Most certainly! Consider Christianity as a case in point.

            Could Christianity be toxic? Of course!

            Christianity i.e. Christians / Churches / Christian mission organizations could injure you, even irreparably in some instances, when it ruthlessly controls you for selfish and carnal reasons.

            Recently a friend shared his despair about a church that I shall leave unnamed. This church prohibits its members to write exams on Sunday. Consider the dilemma of the students belonging to this church, who had to write their exams on a particular Sunday.

            Those who did not write their exams on that Sunday would have failed and their career would have suffered a setback. If they did write their exam, then they would have sinned against this church. (Thankfully the Bible assures us that they did not sin against God by writing that exam on Sunday – cf. Mark 2: 23-27)

            So, you are living in a toxic Christian environment when…

            …self-righteous Christians proudly hate sinners (forgetting that God in Christ loved them when they were sinners). Those disparaged as sinners then depart from the church.

            …your Christian friends blame you for your sickness or adversity by accusing you of faithlessness in God. These are Job’s comforters – people who increase the pain of those suffering with their godless and mindless statements.

            …your non-christian friends are more supportive than your Christian friends.

            …you speak your mind about your church and you are crucified for doing so.

            …you expect justice from the local church or the Christian mission organization and all you receive is injustice. Many friends have shared with me that their Christian employers are easily the worst.

            …your church ignores or abuses you for your genuine doubts about Christianity.

            …your church refuses to emotionally or financially help the sick and the needy in your congregation.

            …your church threatens you with curses if you desire to quit.

            …your church alienates the youth by not including them in the worship service.

            …your church plays favoritism by favoring the wealthy and the powerful and ignores those who desperately need Christ’s love from the church.

            …your church mandates you to not watch movies, TV shows and listen to secular music because it is satanic. So you are abandoned with a gigantic guilt even when you watch decent movies and TV shows and listen to clean secular music.

            …your church abandons you based on a false charge, thus destroying your emotional health.

            …your church does not equip its members to live amidst pain.

            These are a few powerful instances of toxic Christianity. Here are a few mild instances of toxic Christianity.

            …your church says that it is the best church – the most Christlike.

            …your pastor replaces Jesus by misusing the Scripture to bolster his own authority.

            …your church’s youth group caters more of food and entertainment than spiritual nourishment.   

            …your church focuses more on money than spirituality.

            …your church is pastor-focused than Christ-focused.

            …your church measures success through church attendance and offertory figures. 

            So what do you do if you find yourself in a toxic Christian environment?

            Unfortunately, many churches operate as business units. These institutional churches would be more interested in stabilizing their business in such a way that they satisfy their big givers rather than serve the spiritual needs of ordinary Christians, in their midst, who require encouragement, and comfort.

            So if you are a part of one such business unit (church), then you could abandon this church. But the big question remains, “is there a better church in your vicinity?” If so, you depart to the better church. If not, you are in a huge dilemma.

            Having said this, every Christian, Christian organization and Church will have their unique imperfections. None can expect to find a perfect Christian or a perfect Christian outfit in this imperfect and evil world. Given this situation, it is better off to be in a lesser toxic environment, than not being in the fellowship of Christians.

            But when the discussion is about friendships, we are better off without toxic Christian friendships. We would be much better off with good friends irrespective of their religious affinities.  
            God, as revealed in the Bible is a loving and a gracious God. God does not harm anyone. However, when people are injured by religion, they should be careful to not blame God.  

            Let’s make this abundantly clear. The Bible reveals that Christianity per se cannot insult or injure anyone. Insult and injuries are caused by Christians who misinterpret the Bible to their own benefit.

            The greatest harm to Christians, in our time, is dealt by postmodern and liberal Christians. But their meager numbers prevent adverse impact upon Christians.

            Christianity is not entirely toxic. There are quite a few true followers of Christ, who truly serve God and truly bless those around them.

            When we are damaged by Christians, Churches and Christian mission organizations, we are left with no other option but to approach God like never before. Abandoning God will not heal us. God alone has the power to heal and deliver us.

            God will love, care and heal those who seek HIM, especially those who are grievously wounded by HIS own people. God will heal us supernaturally and through HIS humble servants. Of this, you can be sure.  

            So may we be those humble servants of God to be Christlike and bless those around us with the grace and love of God that we perpetually receive from HIM.              






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