An Uncomfortable Journey

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.

10 thoughts on “An Uncomfortable Journey”

  1. well i certainly agree with that, but what is to become of the dying church? Has the church always been an illusion? Is it not the sister of Christ? The institution still exists. It still is meant to be a place of worship. The physical buildings are there. What must happen in them? the Truth must be spoken in church. do you not agree? why have all the smart motherfuckers turned from the church?Yes the relationship is personal. But what about the institution? We cannot ignore that it sucks ass. I refuse to ignore the spineless institution. My wife said today after church, “the church has turned into a pussy.” haha. It has! The church is a pussy! A big one! No one is tough. Yea sure preachers blab all day about the Da Vinci Code …but they aren’t hard on themselves. I”m not sure when I last heard a preacher openly demonstrate healthy self-reproach. I rarely see humility as a trait in preachers. Billy Graham was a tough motherfucker. You couldn’t argue with him. Dude gave it to you straight. Why was there only 1 Billy Graham ever??? Why do so many honest people hide behind their IT, engineering, medical, and law careers? Why are they pretending not to care about suck ass pseudo-intellectual preachers that run things on Sunday morning? sorry.I”m rambling. the church is a pussy.

  2. Well I guess it all comes down to the Church being the people. As long as there are people there will be a Church. The institution we called church is a machine. It will exist. I go to church, …Hello my name is Melissa and I go to church every sunday and even mid week service….Whew there I said it….I see issues with the institution but I havent given up hope that there are pastors out there that care for their people, seek Gods face, and help people.What happens now that we all realize there is an issue…I don’t know…this realization is not new. All I can do is my part. I refuse to step out of the problem because I see issues. I want to be a part of the resolution. I have to follow God for what He has for me, I’ll keep praying that God raises up leaders that will do this thing the way He intended. In the mean time, I’m just trying to love people and share this passionate love God has for them.

  3. You have freedom and can’t see it. The question you have to ask is, “Who or what is my box?”. Are you one of those people that goes on living a life that is based on assumptions that those around you have created? Or are you one of those people who refuses to yeild to another man’s explaination?Whichever it is, we have to learn to realize our freedom at all costs. Ask the big question. Challenge authority. Make your own resolves. Fight with every ounce of strength in you for what is right. You are after all free to do so.

  4. Nope Nugget – What has that helped over the years.What does it mean …..Well it means I am responsible to seek God for myself and quit relying on other people to give me the answers I want about God and my relationship. It means when I find my way, Its not my job to shove my way on other people, but instead encourage people to figgure out their way for themselves.God is not interested in Robots who can quote Christinese, but people who desire to know God for real and follow Him because they love Him. Thats the whole idea behind the free choice to serve Him. We should serve God and obey Him, not people who say they know God and His ways.Relationship is personal, not rules and hearsay.

  5. In this search for freedom from religion there is a tendency to go from one extreem to the other.We all represent a group of people who are trying to make sence of the reality of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Religion as well all see it is dead and meaningless, but this relationship with our God and Creator does it come with no guidelines at all to live by? All relationships come with guidelines and boundaries. I think its just up to us to recognize our own boundaries and let others find theirs. Thats my 2 cents worth.

  6. Maybe I’m fulfilling the “misunderstandings” category by asking this, but I’m on this journey. And what Aeschliman says about “ambiguity” has me a little curious…I guess my question is regarding the validity of moral relativism. Are we saying that there are no more moral absolutes? Is that the “conflict with particular moral upbringing” he speaks of here?I know I fight that a lot, specifically in the area of “behavior=holiness”. But, I still tend to use the Bible as my “compass”. Only I try to read it with a fresh set of eyes… to the point that I put away all my old “study bibles”, bought a TNIV, and started reading it with fresh perspective.I only ask, because I see the tendency in myself to want to throw out the baby, the bathwater, the bucket and anything else I can find, in exchange for reckless “freedom” (as opposed to the ‘glorious freedom’ described here) that sometimes resembles just plain stupidity (from the other extreme).…or do I just not ‘get it’?

  7. This particular writer chose freedom, in the form of infidelity to his wife. I was curious what he was up to these days and found this post. I’m not sure I can buy what he says, because I know more of his personal history and where these statements are coming from.

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