Mrs. God

Jesus wedding

A man once threatened to kill me if I didn’t marry him, so I did.

Throughout the Bible, God refers to his people as his “life partner.”  Depending on how well-behaved and loyal they are, they are either a lovely bride, or a harlot, a prostitute, a cheating lover. The several-thousand-year engagement is projected to culminate in a beautiful wedding in Revelation, right after God curses Babylon for being filled with demons, dirty birds, and detestable beasts.

I attended a Pentecostal church once that performed an elaborate “reenactment” of this wedding. We were assaulted with the visual of an overcaffeinated pastor in full bridal garb, flashing his engagement bling to the congregation with giddy joy and dancing a waltz with Invisible Jesus, while wiping imaginary tears from his eyes and speaking loudly in tongues.

I was still married (in real life) at this time. During the climax of this barbaric catastrophe of a sermon, I glanced at my husband, who looked even more uncomfortable and perplexed than I was. Between us, we managed to choke down laughter and vomit for the rest of the “ceremony.” To wrap up, the pastor called everyone to the pulpit to receive anointing as an “engagement gift.”  His job was to touch their foreheads. Their job was to fall to the ground. Since all of this was being filmed for live TV, camera crews took their places near the stage, and ushers prepared for the catch. I waited in line nervously, not sure what to do as I watched the recipients of “the anointing touch” fall into the ushers’ arms, to be placed on the floor for an indeterminant amount of time. It was my turn. The dolled-up pastor babbled in tongues and reached for my forehead. The wide, black eyes of cameras gaped at me.

So…when he touched my head, I fell to the ground. Why would I want to stand there, on camera, looking like the demon-plagued bride of the devil, when all the other faithful Christ-brides were lying on the floor in a brilliant display of faux syncope, full of faithfulness and a desire to obey and follow? I carefully opened one eye and caught a glimpse of my otherwise sensible husband, sprawled on the carpet there beside me. It is difficult to exercise and defend reason, even in the face of such folly, when you are the only one who might.

Tools like this public display of a “miracle”  have been used to coerce entire populations into following (or at least not speaking against) religion. Even if we can get people to pretend they believe, it will make it more difficult for those who don’t.  “You must have seen the image of the Virgin. All of the rest of us did.” “Everybody’s hands are up during the worship song. I guess I should be feeling something too.” I have read posts from individuals who were terrified they were going to hell because they couldn’t “speak in tongues.” Concerns that, upon the slightest intellectual examination, look silly or downright mad are validated and intensified by what those around you claim to experience.

If a grown man darted towards you, declaring that the Flying Spaghetti Monster was planning to zap all of its believers into the clouds and leave the rest behind to fight a war on Earth with a bunch of zombies, you would likely inch away cautiously and call 911. But when a Christian tells the story of the rapture, society recognizes it as a legitimate and respectable belief. Likewise, the rational world should consider it emotionally abusive for a mother to teach her children fictional horror stories and instill them as truths never to be questioned, stories like people living inside of animals, God sending bugs to punish unbelievers, blindness or muteness being caused by demons, dead people coming back to life to walk the Earth, messages written by a ghost-hand on a wall. This same mother is liable to simultaneously deny things that we know are true and forbid her children access to science and reason. “There were no dinosaurs. The Earth has not been in existence for more than 6,000 years. The Big Bang never happened. Evolution is the devil’s lie. You are not allowed to go to a school where they will expose you to these evil beliefs.”

Even worse, she might teach her tender, innocent children that if they don’t accept her warped version of the truth, they will be punished horrendously, forever more. They won’t get to live with her or be part of her eternal family. They will go to a place of burning, and torment. They are not allowed to engage the incredible muscle science and evolution endowed them with, their brain. They are not to use their logic or reasoning. They are not to question.  They are to conform, at all costs, or face the unspeakable consequences. Horrible parenting, and yet completely accepted and even lauded by society. We don’t even question whether we should question or what possible damage this might inflict on children’s mental health.

If the stories the mother taught were any other than those in the Bible, society would condemn her and rescue the poor creatures that had been subject to such inexcusable emotional abuse. If she had taught them that a man lived inside the belly of an elephant, instead of inside a fish, or that a monkey led to the damnation of mankind, instead of a snake, or that the appearance of the Flying Spaghetti Monster would soon bring about the end of the world, it would be easy to stand up for truth and reason. It would be easy to assess her emotional preparedness for childrearing, and easy to prescribe her the needed medication or therapy to guide her towards more realistic beliefs.  But the fact that others believe these stories makes them more acceptable. The Bible somehow legitimizes all of her craziness, just like it legitimized the crazy Pentecostal sermon I attended.

Grown-ups are allowed to do insane, emotionally disturbing things to those around them, as long as those things have root in the Bible. We have decided it is okay for our government officials to base their decisions on these ridiculous stories. It’s alright to knock on your neighbor’s door and tell them they are going to hell. It’s permissible to print cruel and discriminatory religious propaganda on couple’s wedding programs, if their marriage doesn’t meet your definition of “Biblical.”  It’s acceptable to invade privacy and incite anger and divide families in the name of evangelizing because society has come to the collective agreement that these beliefs are to be at least respected, if not followed. So we choke down our laughter or our vomit. We watch those fainting around us, and we pretend to faint with them, afraid to be the ones that stand for truth.

There is more to this story about the Bride of Christ, and I can’t wait to share it with you next week. Meanwhile, please use my fail to remind yourself to stand up for reason, even in ways that may seem insignificant. Each time you do, you make our world a safer place for others to stand with you.

39 thoughts on “Mrs. God

  1. Danica, not sure if you are familiar with Chrystine Trooien’s book “Christian Mythology for Kids,” but in my opinion it should replace every single 4th-century CE Canonical bible in the world… and books similar to Chrystine’s book because as Dale McGowan pinpoints:

    Myths fired my imagination powerfully as a kid. Greek, Norse, Hopi, West African animist tales, I devoured them all. But the stories of the Judeo-Christian canon were an exception. The retellings were always so mired in kid-glove sacredness that all the rich drama was drained out of them. Christian Mythology for Kids finally restores these fantastic tales to their rightful place among the great, compelling stories of humanity. I want to be a kid again so I can discover Christian myth afresh.

    *emphasis my own. 🙂

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    1. I actually did look into that book when we were making our transition out of Christianity! Sadly, I haven’t gotten around to picking it up yet, but I do love the concept. I am working toward having a healthy relationship with religion as myth. I grabbed a cool book for the Christmas season, The Old Magic of Christmas, that explores a lot of the pagan traditions that inspired our Christmas celebrations. Next autumn, we plan on reading it together, in preparation for the onslaught of religious iconography that inevitably commences mid-October. I thought reinterpreting these images through their mystical roots might be a fun way to bring the magic back into Christmas, and reduce our level of irritation with them. I think Chrystine’s work would have a similar effect.

      The problem I have faced with enjoying Christian myth is the concrete, negative impact it has on members of my human family. So it’s been tricky to reinvent my relationship with it, in the way Norse mythology might bother me if, along with painting wonderous tales, it was concurrently trampling human rights. But thanks for this suggestion, of course. I’m on the slow road to picking out the babies while I throw out the bathwater.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. By the way Danica, don’t be too hard on yourself about that very difficult episode/opportunity (up on stage?) to “stand up” for truth/reason. There is indeed a neurological and hormonal response to situations of crowd “performances” that include peer-pressure or assimilation, marketing psychology(?) and how the human heart and mind can be gullible if all the components — manufactured or natural — are just right for you. Since we are all descendants of primates, you might call it (respectfully) a redefining of monkey see, monkey do. Maybe. 😉 Every single one of us have been duped once or twice, right? ❤

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      2. “…don’t be too hard on yourself about that very difficult episode/opportunity (up on stage?) to “stand up” for truth/reason..Since we are all descendants of primates, you might call it (respectfully) a redefining of monkey see, monkey do.”

        If we’re just evolved monkeys, it’s understandable that we’d do crazy stuff like Danica describes here. Monkeys throw poo and eat bugs from their armpits. They aren’t embarrassed by their behavior. I don’t see where Danica did anything that she should feel badly about. You explained that culture is where standards of behavior are forged. She was part of a culture that staged a pretend wedding. What’s wrong with that?

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      3. My best guess is that Professor Taboo was referring to my feeling guilt about “pretending” to have some sort of spiritual experience, in effect lying to thousands of people on television. When people pretend to be filled with the holy spirit, (as I and a bunch of others did that day) it basically tells the people who aren’t pretending that they are weird or different somehow, when they are actually just living in reality. If it were just a pretend wedding, and not a public declaration of some type of “modern day miracle,” indeed it would not have been anything that reflected negatively on anyone. 🙂

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      4. Danica, you are correct in your answer. Thank you. I was also theorizing on how you and your then husband even got into that situation in the first place; the circumstances leading up to that circus. There was perhaps other preliminary coersions that took place? For example, I’ve seen this sort of biological phenomena happen thousands of times at huge sporting events — in my case during my pro soccer career — or at public rallies or protests. It’s called Herd or Mob Mentality and “church functions” or gatherings are NOT much different, if at all. And what JB totally missed above is that this gullibility is inherent in our primate DNA. Very very few have the deep enduring courage to be singled out, solo, all alone (up on that stage or stand-of-shaming) for the sake of principle or truth against a mob. For some it is impossible. A.S. Neill speaks to this fear:

        The prude is in fact the libertine,
        without the courage to face their naked soul.

        Face their nakes soul in front of a large crowd.” Everyone, every single person on the planet has been there at one time or another. I know in my past I have.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Well, this was the funniest thing I have read all day.

    You didn’t specify if the the pastor was actually dressed as the bride so until you ”come clean” I am just going to have to imagine a Transvestite Pentecostal singing shrilly like Tiny Tim ( You’ll have to google him … you are too young to remember).

    Live TV or not, you should have kneed him in the nuts. Now THAT would have been a church service I would watch anytime.
    Pee Ess … I predict that, as this has nothing to do with atheism no Christian will comment .. though I will venture the Branyans already had a peek.
    🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Indeed. I doubt any self-respecting Christian would challenge the notion that this service was a “bit” over the top. And yes, the pastor was dressed in a bridal gown and veil, and your vision of the sermon is quite accurate, heehee. I’ve never seen grown men squirm in their seats as I did that day.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Hahahahahahaha!!! “Transvestite Pentecostal” dressed preacher! Ark, you just gave me wonderful images of Dr. Frank-N-Furter (Tim Curry) in The Rocky Horror Picture Show doing ‘scientific’ healings to unsuspecting couples!!! 🤣 Let that Freak-flag FLY!!! 🏳️‍🌈 (breaks out singing…)

      It’s just a jump to the left
      And then a step to the right
      With your hands on your hips
      You bring your knees in tight
      But it’s the pelvic thrust…

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  3. Great post. The inherent tendencies of humans to want to pass on stories, myths and yarns that they have believed down to the next generations is a major factor in trying to educate people concerning the damage most organised and manipulative religious ideologies can do to human life.

    If you have ever watched a priest or any preacher on a street corner, they often express the Biblical stories with passion. They talk as though they were virtually an eye witness of the myth they are preaching about and if questioned they have an answer that is often made up, but sounds like they know more than anybody and are the leading authority.

    Place this similar picture into a children’s Sunday school class or on a Bible camp and after a few repeat sessions, “hey presto “they have another bunch of believers in mythical stories.

    The free world of thought can only be an illusion for some of these children. It is a scientific fact the physical structure of the brain changes as knowledge is absorbed, and most importantly it can have lifelong negative implications.
    Therefore, pumping children’s brains with ideologies and mythology is nothing less than Russian roulette with a child’s wellbeing and destructive for human rights to the basic freedoms in life. Indoctrination should be against the law.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I completely agree, especially with your final paragraph. It’s one of the things that make me the saddest about religion, and was probably the single most pressing factor in my decision to leave it. It’s also a method I use to summon patience with religious zealots, when necessary for my own mental health. I remind myself that they were once innocent children, indoctrinated with the beliefs they “hold so dear.” It doesn’t make me less mad. It just makes me mad at their parents instead of them. It works like a charm when I need to extend grace instead of bitterness, and helped me put many unresolvable arguments to rest. 🙂

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    2. “Indoctrination should be against the law.”

      Guys ,while I can understand and even agree with much of everyone’s concern here, I’m also able to see some real dangers and pitfalls.

      How can this be balanced with individual freedom, and the right to freedom of speech and religion even within the family?

      Who gets to determine what is harmful indoctrination, and how laws should be implemented?

      What do we do with folks who refuse to comply with the law? Should we remove children from otherwise loving and caring parents because they are fundamentalist /pentecostal Christians? Working in Child Welfare, I can tell you that children are devastated and long to be with even abusive parents once placed in foster care. The child/parent bond is extremely strong and important, not to be disrupted lightly.

      Furthermore, once a precedent is set in this area, what happens if a group comes to power within the government who opposes our particular ideology?

      For instance, suppose a right wing religious group is able to have influence within our country and sincerely wishes to move in the direction of theocracy.?

      In their equally sincere way of thinking, parents should not be able to communicate atheistic /secular humanistic thought to their children since this in their mind is delusional, (afterall a fool has said in his heart there is no God ) and further leads to immorality, and spiritual harm.

      Once the force of law becomes involved in limiting freedom of speech and the practice of religion within the family, I think anything can become possible.

      Also, I think it’s important to separate out in thinking the difference between those who simply have a different world view or culture than ours with those who are truly “delusional.”

      Believing in something like the rapture, or interpreting Genesis One in a literal way is not the same as having a bone fide mental illness such as psychosis. which requires psychiatric treatment and medication.

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      1. These are all great points. I agree that it indoctrination would be, for all practical purposes, impossible to outlaw. I think most nonbelievers assume that will never be possible, which is why many of us us dedicate our free time to speaking out against religion, especially fundamentalist views, in hopes that we can at least provide support for those who are questioning religion and its effects on childrearing, self-respect, engagement in the community, etc. In a sense, atheistic beliefs have been “prohibited” both by law and by society throughout history (at different times, in different degrees.) Ir’s easy to do this when the majority follows a belief system that they are asked not to question, to support unconditionally with “faith.” It’s much harder for skeptics and rationalists to make their voices heard. A, because we won’t do it at the expense of another’s freedom to choose. B, because there are fewer of us. C, because not all of us are motivated to “awaken” others to reality. Most Christians believe in the great commission, to be and make disciples of men. Most atheists believe we all have the same ultimate destiny, so there is no inherent “rule” that we ought to speak to others about our worldviews, other than (in some) the personal motivation to do so.

        The last point you made echoes my concern very well. It is not considered mental illness to believe these stories, even though in world that operated in a fully rational way, it would be. Take for example, Ganesh, who has the head of an elephant, or the story of Jesus casting demons into 2,000 pigs, or Muhammad splitting the moon. These are all tales that probably ought to point to bona fide mental illness if adults truly believe them, today. It’s one thing to believe such stories when we’re only a step up from a tribal people, with no access to news, science, education, etc. But to live in today’s world and adhere to beliefs in fairy tales is one of what I consider to be the true dangers of the power of religion. When a credence outweighs logic, reason, and the composite of human knowledge and research, it is “eccentric” in one person, and dangerous in large populations.

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      2. For instance, suppose a right wing religious group is able to have influence within our country and sincerely wishes to move in the direction of theocracy.?

        IMO, this is exactly what is happening right now … and it is far from the first time. Those who “believe” consider all aspects of human functioning that don’t fall within Christian standards as WRONG … and should be pushed aside and replaced with “good Christian morals.”

        While it’s true that some are less militaristic about this, it is the ultimate goal of all believers because, well, “God.” Having said this, I know there are those on the other side who wish to wipe out all forms of religions … and this is not acceptable either.

        What we need is a middle ground … but such a place will most likely never exist as long as those in power push their personal agendas.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for bumping up my street cred! Along my “path to enlightenment,” I attended services in many Christian denominations. (I have also experienced religious services outside of Christianity.) I spent a great while in a Pentecostal environment as a teenager, attending church with my best friend. I have good memories from that time. I was fully convinced of the firey power of the holy spirit, and I relished the joy that radiated from church members. I also experienced the darker underbelly of that world, saw lying, cheating, and child abuse. I guess the point of this useless rambling is to say that I only singled out this service because it was spectacularly comical and illustrative of the elements of Christianity that I am now so outspoken against, and not because I think the Pentecostal branch is singular in its lunacy. 😉

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      1. I started as a fundamentalist Independant Baptist, then dedicated as a National Baptist, next Calvary chapel (four square light), got married as an AOG, moved and started going to a Reformed church, maintained ties with a Witness Lee Local Church offshoot after attending there for a year and a half, and now… Have been out of Christianity for about two years.
        When a Christian tells you that their Christianity is the right one… much less Christianity is the right Faith over all others… we know how diverse and different even different sects of our former faith is, and that everyone else says the same thing.
        We have to pin them down and challenge them to defend what they claim, or we are under no obligation to Believe them. Not any more. Thx again Danica for allowing my comments.

        Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you! I don’t know how your winter is going, but here we have finally had our first big day of snow. We got to stay home from school and work, so I plan to read and write, of course! 🙂 Have a wonderful week, Patty!

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  4. Folks, I can tell you right now, here is one Christian who opposes theocracy. As far as I’m concerned, those who are not concerned to support the establishment clause of the constitution, have forgotten the lessons of history.

    I’m politically more libertarian and feel hugely concerning the importance of preserving individual freedom and liberty.

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    1. There is no danger of the US becoming a theocracy.
      This is alarmist nonsense.

      In one breath, the atheists are squealing about powerful religious forces oppressing them.
      In the next breath, the atheists are celebrating the growing population of “non-religious” youngsters.
      Nobody (except a few fringe nutjobs) thinks a theocracy is a good idea.

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