How "blank" it is to be loved by you!                            

Brian Worley                                       

This article will address the Post-Christian abusive treatment that "Christians" spew forth towards de-converted Christians. There are many words that could fill in that "blank" within the title of this essay because every case is different! I would dare say that most of these words would be antonyms of the word sweet! It is difficult for me to imagine how groups like Focus on the Family could overlook such a rather large ethical problem within Evangelical Christianity! If you are focused on the family like they say, then they should be seeking to remedy family problems such as this! 

Love is wonderful if you can find it during your lifetime! And no, it is not a birthright automatically bestowed upon you from your parents when you were born, although it should be! Most of us are familiar with James Taylor's rendition of "How Sweet it is to be Loved By You" that became a #1 hit during the summer of 1975. But it was actually Marvin Gaye that had originally recorded the hit tune back in 1964. Some might be unfamiliar with the career of the talented Marvin Gaye and all the wonderful romantic music that he produced. Unfortunately his father, an Apostolic preacher had decided to take the life of his very own son. He shot him to death in April 1984 after an argument between the two men.  

I hadn't intended to touch on Marvin Gaye, but it came naturally and his tragedy augments the message that I want to deliver to the reader. The desire to be loved by another is often a consuming fire that is hard to quench. To be shut out, cut off, or denied love is an exceedingly difficult ordeal to cope with. The pain of being on the outside from whomever we desired to be loved by can sap your energy in life, IF you allow it.  I know, I have been there! If you, the post Christian reader, find yourself within the realm of such a situation from old Christian friends or family, I want to encourage you! 

Reason cannot cure a wounded heart. Nor does alcohol or drugs soothe the pain of a fractured relationship. Pain is more readily endured when there is hope for a remedy.  The stark reality is that there are cases in life that will defy all attempts of  reconciliation.  You will just have to make adjustments if you don't want to play "the victim" and have pity parties!  I remind you that the clock is ticking and waiting for someone that shunned you because you have abandoned religious beliefs is often nothing more than false hope!  My case is nearly 10 years old! I want you to reflect upon the character of those that have refused to love you due to your leaving religion.  Once you do, perhaps some things will become clearer to you and perhaps you will find that the one refusing to love you might actually be deficient on character, compassion and love. 

Some folks cannot love but only seek to control you. If they are denied the reigns to your life they can become toxic people to be around. Do you really need their affirmation? In this article I will share some personal observations about some situations and people in my life. My intent is to show you that sometimes these things go beyond personal matters of the heart and are largely ethical issues. 

Personal observations of Christian personalities in my life 

My mother was from Baltimore, MD and our family lived there through my third grade year. We moved from the big city to the small hometown of my father in North Carolina.  Canton was and still is a paper mill town. My childhood pastor, Sunday school teacher, and many other foundational people from Canton made their living due to employment from the paper mill.  Here is the ethical problem.  

The paper mill straddles the Pigeon River that eventually feeds into the state of Tennessee.  It turned out that the paper mill had secretly discharged dioxin and other particles into the river thus damaging the eco-system. Beyond this an inordinate amount of human health problems resulted due to the eco-crimes committed by the paper mill to the people living downstream. In fact, this issue became a minor political issue for Al Gore in his 1988 Presidential election bid.  

 At the time of the issue, many of the locals could tell you whatever you wanted to know about the Bible and few if any discussed or expressed concerns about environmental issues.  To focus primarily on environmental issues would detract attention away from the ethical and human health concerns. The Environmental Protection Agency justly came down hard upon the paper mill. At the time there were discussions about the plant closing down if they could not meet EPA standards.  

People were frightened due to the threat of losing their jobs (good paying jobs were difficult to attain for the average man). All of this is understandable because people need to make a living. The EPA took correct and serious action and the locals were not only afraid... they were also upset at the EPA and likened them to communists for seeking to destroy their jobs.  

You probably have already understood the big picture here.  Jobs were more important to Canton than the people living downstream.  Why were not those living downstream told that the paper mill adopted reckless and selfish activities by polluting the water? Why was greed a higher priority than ethics or disclosure?  Surely God loved the people in Tennessee just as much as the people from Canton. How many more severe health issues like cancer, birth defects and etc. had to occur before the town's people consciousness was pricked? They make great poster children for the "good ole Southern boys" that "git irritated" when you point out that they broke the "golden rule"!  

I would say that more than 70% of these people went to church on Sundays, and yet, where was the Christian voice to denounce such a breach of ethics and disregard for humanitarian concerns? The point I seek to convey here isn't so much the Christian hypocrisy, but the Christian breach of ethics!   It was a happy day in my life when I came to realize and accept that relationships with poor character people were not worth maintaining! I never fit the profile of a "good ole Southern boy" because I am not "constipated"!  Yet these same people pride themselves as being holy God-fearing people.  

My high school buddy  won the senior superlative for the most courteous in the class. Since my deconversion from Christianity, he will not talk with me and hasn't returned any messages that I have left for him  Rude yes, but this is his ethical problem! My own brother sabotaged the family business and this resulted in over $50,000 in damages! He wanted to prove that God wasn't blessing me as an apostate! Last I heard he still attends church and thinks he lives a holy life. The Bible clearly states that he will go to hell when he dies because he doesn't love his brother. Yes, this severely hurt me and yet another example of a Christian ethical problem!   

My family intentionally withheld information from me just long enough and made it impossible for me to attend my grandmother's funeral by burying her less than 48 hours after she passed away. The best of my siblings, my little sister, asked me to forgive them for this and I begrudgingly granted them their request.  A year or so later when my favorite aunt died they withheld the news of her death long enough until once again I couldn't arrange travel arrangements quick enough to make it in time for the funeral! The pain of these events served to help me to write my "Let the Dead Bury Their Dead" page. Jesus himself had ethical issues about death and funerals!  

All of these events that I have mentioned are due to my leaving Christianity! My parents are so cold that they have not made even one inquiry about their new baby granddaughter, yet they would claim themselves as loving God-fearing people! The situation is what it is. Many years ago I had sought out a solution for a reconciliation that will probably never occur!  Here are my conclusions. 

Conclusions About Those Christians That Reject You For Leaving the Faith  

First, I got angry!  Didn't the Eagles' "Hole in the World" song state that "they say that anger is just love disappointed"? I did much personal introspection. Was there something of substance besides my deconversion that made others to turn upon me so? I made a long introspection about the principles of life that I believed in and placed them into writing for future reference.  Had I broken any of these moral principles with anyone that I was close with? The bottom line was that I didn't have any ethical lapse but I did make a few personal transaction mistakes. These were nothing major but the common denominator involved with everyone was my departure from Christianity!  

Keep in mind; I left the faith as a minister and this was before websites like mine reached out to people such as myself.  I went to see a shrink about these things. We came to the conclusion that "I had my head on straight" and I needed to choose a method to deal with these matters. To make a long story short, I "divorced" my family as a matter of self-preservation and respect. This didn't mean that I would be unwilling to look into forgiving or re-opening the relationship at some time in the future. In fact, I have made a point to try to open dialogue every so often to see if any softening of attitudes has occurred. The last time was two years ago and my father cussed me out in the name of Jesus.  

It is nearly impossible to peacefully co-exist where mutual respect is not shared. If either the believer or the non-believer are elevated within their own mindset, this will eventually reveal itself in time.  My favorite aunt "Sis" was a fine Christian example and I loved her very much. When she had heard about my departure from faith she waited until we could sit down personally and discuss things (no phone calls). She listened while I answered the questions that she had asked about why I left the faith. I didn't press upon her for a discussion or what she thought about my new direction in life. Personal belief about God wasn't a condition of our relationship!  She helped me to understand why some believers treated me horribly. This truth was gleaned by contrasting her character with the character of those that have mistreated me!  

After I presented my case about leaving Christianity I never pressed for her reaction by asking what she thought about this. Why? Because we respected each other, and I knew that she had listened to what I had told her.  She was up in years and in poor health. I realized this was much deeper than an intellectual decision, her Christianity was also her way of life!  We didn't know it at the time, but we sensed that this would probably be the last time we would be together. As I walked out of the door of her home,  we both could not hold back the tears because we knew the love and respect was deep between us (it didn't matter that she was a Christian or that I was no longer one)!  The big point I want to make here is that the difference between my aunt "Sis" and nearly the remainder of my family is that my aunt "Sis" was a responsible, loving and an ethical person! I cannot say the same for those family members that have mistreated me!   

I have a Christian cousin that has a peculiar way of dealing with me. I wanted to say interact but when I explain you will understand. My cousin sends me those "inspirational emails about friendship, love and etc." but will not interact with me like I am a human being. This cousin is a tremendously warm and loving person with others, but with me, all I get is a forwarded inspirational email (no how are you or anything). I wrote asking her about these things and all I received back was a different "inspirational email" in response! Her treatment towards me is peculiar, but she doesn't have any ethical issues that I am aware of.   Once again, I am making the point that those that rudely reject you for leaving the faith just might have ethical issues!   

Second, I realized that having to ask those that should love you to actually treat you fairly was a very pathetic practice. I'm not going to beg anyone! Love doesn't work this way! One should never have to ask to be loved by blood relatives! In the clearest terms. they are upset because they cannot control your decisions. As punishment they will mistreat you and they think that our actions justifies this reaction. Evidentially, they think in time that their "tough love discipline" strategy will prevail and if it doesn't...so be it! What, should one wait for possibly a death bed confession from the rascals? 

Who needs to be "loved" by such a one as this? This is the essence of this essay and the thought behind the title. These types of people are "running on empty" and have nothing within to love another with. You cannot give what you do not have! EVERY case that I am aware of reveals that these folks have serious unresolved character issues!  I'm referring to the hateful types, not the peculiar ones! You are better off without them! 

Third, I realized that those that I would desire to have close relationships with needed to have a similar outlook about ethics, integrity, and compassion as myself.  You can build a relationship with people such as these! In matters of love, there are givers and takers. The people in my life that should but  cannot give love have ended up being takers. Takers are self centered people that are not so concerned about others. Ethics are very important in life, some folks have them while others just talk about it.  

Truth of the matter is that a majority of folks that leave the Christian faith do so as a matter of conscious. Leaving the faith is more than just an intellectual decision; it has a moral and ethical dimension as well! I think that those who ignore or reject messages of reason like Ex-minister proclaims have either intellectual or ethical issues that need prompt attention! Especially ministers, priests, preachers, and those otherwise known as clergy members!  

Perhaps I am still a preacher at heart that wants to deliver a message. Yes, I am calling out the churches because they cannot ethically deal with "apostate people"!  How backwards and unethical is it to re-frame those that the church considers to be apostates as leaving due to desiring to live a life of sin? This might be accurate in a few cases, but I dare say that the majority leave for conscious, moral, and ethical reasons!  Most hold to a higher ethical standard that what those still in the churches proclaim!  Now if you want to have a discussion on the topic of ethics be skeptical when the clergy arrive!   That is unless they are honest ministers who like myself left the ministry and have the courage to speak up about these matters. The list is growing and includes such men as Joseph McCabe, Charles Templeton, Robert M. Price, Dan Barker, Farrell Till,  Paul Benedict, and Joe Holman. 

Personally, I wouldn't walk across the street to hear a fundamentalist clergy speak about ethics while they are receiving a salary or pension from a religious organization! How ethical is it to demand of your congregation literal adherence to an ancient book of literature? Sharp "liberal" ministers recognize the Bible for what it is and thus don't propagate the same literalistic demands upon their congregation like a fundamentalist minister does!

PS: I could have just said, "consider the source" and left it at that, but I agree with my homiletics teacher that said most often you will need a story to convey a truth with! You just might have to start all over again by making new friends (if your old ones are rigid people). The best advice I could give to you about moving past things comes from the Protestant reformer, Martin Luther. He was asked, "How were you able to handle such adversity" ? He said something like this, first I got mad and second was the love of a good woman! I hope this helps you to find your way!

 

 

Brian Worley    Ex-minister.org       December 26. 2008     All rights reserved.  

  


 



To Return to the Main Page