In the situations (the journey to freedom from religion) we face the challenge of our will–do we want freedom badly enough to endure the ambiguities, marginalization, and misunderstandings that will come with our apparent obstinacy and betrayal of what we have been taught? The discomforts certainly will be our partners along the way.
AMBIGUITY, because the life of freedom will be uncharted for us. Where once there was mostly black and white, we will find that much has turned gray. Our flight to freedom–away from religion–will constantly put us in conflict with our particular moral upbringing. There’s no road map here, simply an uneasy, unschooled conscience that has to meet Jesus anew.
And we will experience MARGINALIZATION, because the religious system must label us as somewhat heretical if it is to ensure that its other subjects do not interpret our deviance as a legitimate option.
Fear combined with negative labels has a powerful effect. If I have been trained to believe that a “liberal” is one who has rejected Jesus personally, then I certainly do not want to be one of them and face the consequences of eternal separation in hell. I am likely to avoid certain behaviors or opinions if I have been convinced that they reflect a liberal orientation. Those in our group who have trespassed the boundaries will be put aside, partly in the hope that their isolation will lead to repentance….And if we are honest with ourselves, we will avoid personal contact with them because we also fear their impact on our own minds and souls.
MISUNDERSTANDINGS will also be a part of our experience in the flight from religion. We’ll blunder countless times with our newfound freedom as we attempt to articulate our contempt for the chains of our past. The conflicts that we are sure to engage will regularly be our own doing….We will hurt and offend others as we describe our encounters with Christ, because they will interpret our experience as a judgment of their own value and practices. This is not easily avoided and in fact is sometimes necessary, because at times the gospel is offensive.
Our experience of religion has hurt us, and it is our great fortune that in the middle of all the pain we have stumbled into the glorious freedom of Jesus Christ. We had accepted the burdens and chains of religion as being a part of our salvation, but now we are free simply to love Jesus with all our hearts and to love our neighbors as ourselves.
From the book, “Cages of Pain” by Gordon Aeschliman.