I didn’t grow up in the church, and for that I’m thankful. My girlfriend grew up going to the Pentecostal church– the fire and brimstone church. She woke up every sunday, put on her best church clothes and sat through Sunday school. She was forced to listen to a man who told her she was going to Hell for being herself or for making the same mistakes that everyone did.
After Sunday school, she absorbed all of the Christian extremist crap from the zealots who made her believe their interpretation of the Bible was the correct one, and anyone who believes differently is anti-Christian and will go to Hell.
She started getting panic attacks around age 12, whether or not it was just from the Church we don’t really know, but I know that the Church definitely had a part in it. When you grow up in an environment that tells you you’re going to Hell for being true to yourself, what do you do? You hide who you really are. You live with secrets and you let them eat you alive until there’s nothing left. You live in fear everyday and hope that sometime in the future you can fall in love with yourself again. You’re lucky if that time ever comes.
Now, when my girlfriend and I go to church (one that accepts everyone, no matter any differences we might have, no matter what the Bible can be interpreted as) she can’t sit through a sermon without having a panic attack and having to leave.
All those memories of her old church come back to her. She thinks of all the times she’s felt claustrophobic and suffocated even in a big church building. She remembers the preacher telling her she’s a pervert and a sinner and that all the feelings she has are wrong in the eyes of God. What do you do when someone tells you that God hates you, the man who is suppose to love you unconditionally and who decided your fate, for loving someone else?
These words are all she ever knew, all she was ever taught; they were ingrained in her brain for years and she’s worked so hard to forget them, to not believe them anymore. Even though the church we go to now doesn’t believe that love is a sin, she still can’t help be feel scared and unprotected in a church and that is the saddest part of all.
From what I understand, God is about love. That is the main message He strives to send out to all of his children. So why would a preacher speak hate and uncompromising rules that one must follow in order to be granted into Heaven? I will never understand that point of view on God’s words. Christianity and religion should be about respect, love, compassion, and generosity, as far as I’m concerned, and not about hate, exclusion, or isolation.