Freedom had been hunted round the globe; reason was considered as rebellion; and the slavery of fear had made men afraid to think. But such is the irresistible nature of truth, that all it asks, and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing.
~ Thomas Paine, Rights of Man, 1791 ~

Friday, May 17, 2019

The Christadelphian Obsession With Death

Have you ever noticed just how obsessed many Christadelphians are with death? I recently drove past a Christadelphian hall which had a sign out the front advertising an upcoming lecture titled, "What happens when we die?"

Of course, like any rational human being, when I want to find out the answers to such scientific / medical questions I always seek out my local Christadelphian community and trust them to know the correct answers to all things about human biology and natural chemical processes. I jest. What I actually did was type the above lecture title into Google, which linked me to a science article with a handy graphic showing the various stages of bodily decomposition in slightly unnecessary detail.

But why are Christadelphians so obsessed with death?

This is not normal.

Value Distortion

To the Christadelphian, the only significant, worthwhile goal in this life is getting into the next one. Why? Because, they say, it will be so much better than this one. Immortality, perfect health, perfect happiness, perfect harmony, pure joy, and so on, are the kinds of attributes they claim will describe the next life, all promised to them allegedly by the same being who created all the suffering in this life. Don't think about it too hard.

But why would they want to devalue this life so excessively? Is this life not enough for them? If all that we experience is the creation of a loving god, why would it be sinful to enjoy that creation by living this life to the fullest? Surely to embrace this life including all manner of experiences would be the highest compliment one could give to a creator! Yet the Christadelphians want none of it. And they want you to despise it too.

Sure, they will give talks about the "wonders of nature", full of carefully cherry-picked examples of beauty and awe (and omitting any mention of the viruses and terror that plague most of the planet's living creatures daily). But there are rules around what you are allowed to enjoy. Concerts? Music? Only the ones they approve of. Movies? Best to keep that to a minimum and don't tell. Parties? how sinful! Science and technology? it's evil and to be feared and held in suspicion. Career? that depends on your gender, and your standing in the ecclesia (which also depends on your gender, among other factors).

Control Mechanism

Take a closer look. Why is it that so many of the men who stand on the platform and encourage you to give up on the attractions of this life, often seem to have done pretty well for themselves? It's one rule for them, and a different rule for you. Why are your music choices being restricted by their personal tastes? Why are you being asked to dress in a way that pleases them? Of course they'll always tell you that's what God wants. Have you ever wondered why God always seems to want the same things as those who are most influential in your ecclesia? On a related note, did it ever occur to you that all of the words of "God" in your Bible were written by people who claimed to speak on his behalf? Every. single. one.

Christadelphians love to give talks criticising you for how you spend your time, and heaping guilt upon you for not doing enough to please God. They tell you that your salvation depends on this, and urge you to spend more of your time doing activities they approve of, and less of the activities you personally enjoy. By instilling in your mind the powerful, negative voice of criticism, right from when you were a small child, they can ensure that you will always feel guilty for feeling pleasure and for following your own pursuits in life.

This is not normal.

"Do more Bible study", they say. "But it's so boring", you think. "That's the sinful flesh talking", they counter. These voices become internalised until you feel paralysed into inaction and depression. And when you are at your lowest, they offer you forgiveness, and so begins the cycle of abuse. They set an impossible standard for you to follow. They may even appear virtuous themselves when in public (don't look too closely though!). Then, when you fail, they heap guilt on you until you feel miserable and depressed. And then they hold out forgiveness, pretending this to be an act of compassion. It's not. This is emotional abuse. Plain and simple.

This is not normal.

Distorted View Of Love

Have you ever loved someone so much that you just wanted them to be happy? You would give so much of your energy and time for them and be excited for them when they did well in life. Real love is like this.

So isn't it highly suspicious when Christadelphians tell you that you need to behave in a certain way in order to win God's approval? How is a being that is supposed to be "all-loving" incapable of simply loving and accepting its own children for who they are? Why would such a being sentence us to death simply for being human? If that is love, what does love even mean?

They command us to value God's happiness over our own, as if an all-powerful being would need any such thing. But in reality what you are being asked to value are precisely those things the speakers (or those most influential in your ecclesia) care about more than your own needs. The message is clear. Your needs don't matter. Only the group matters. Spend all of your energy helping the ecclesia. This can actually sound like a positive thing until you start to ask who actually speaks for the ecclesia. Why, it's those who are most influential, of course!

While we're on the subject of love, probably the kind of love you need most is self-love. The positive feeling that you are a being worthy of love and friendship. But what do Christadelphians teach? "Without God, you are nothing!" Guilty of sin. Worthy of death. In need of forgiveness. All for the crime of being human. Is it any wonder that so many Christadelphians suffer from severe depression throughout their lives? If you are experiencing feelings of worthlessness, guilt, emptiness, and/or meaninglessness, I strongly encourage you to talk to a qualified medical doctor. A good doctor will offer real help, which may include sessions with a qualified psychologist who can help to reframe your thinking patterns and offer practical strategies for returning to positive mental health. In some cases they may suggest medication, which can be a powerful, temporary boost to provide the energy you need to get back on the path to recovery.

Don't listen to the Christadelphian BS about being weak and sinful creatures. They tell you that because people who think they are "weak" just happen to be the easiest to control and manipulate with guilt. The love you need most is your own, and there are books you can read and qualified professionals who can help you get there. Look inside - there's a strength inside you that has been there all along.

Faux Salvation

So now we return to the Christadelphian obsession with death. Their Bible is full of stories where God allegedly killed people left, right and centre simply for not obeying him. They think this kind of behaviour is normal. Perhaps it was normal for kings to behave that way in the times when the Bible was first written, but it is not normal in 2019.

Those who wrote the Bible had a very different (we might say, "primitive") idea of moral justice, and they ascribed their views to a god, perhaps to bolster their authority. But make no mistake. The fact that the morality in the Bible closely matches that of the societies of the time and place in which each book was written, is no accident. This collection of books was written by humans who claimed to speak on behalf of gods. It was also edited and compiled by later humans who claimed to know which of those earlier writings were the words of the real God and which things were not. And somehow even though all of these things originated in a highly superstitious era, and contain all manner of superstitions we now know to be false (demons and evil spirits anyone?), we are supposed to think they got it absolutely correct when talking about the magic being in the sky. The all-loving being who kills everyone he doesn't like.

The whole Christadelphian message is pretty silly when you stop and think about it. Worship this invisible being so that he can save you from the death he invented in the first place. Because if you don't worship and believe in something you can't see or detect in any way, he will kill you. But he loves you. Really. Those voices in your head can't all be lying, can they?

This is not normal.

Christadelphians are terrified of death, because they spend their whole life devaluing everything that is pleasurable. They convince themselves that people in "the world" have nothing, or that they do not live meaningful lives. But this is clearly yet another false belief manufactured to keep people from questioning the religion. Just like the belief in a future utopia. It's fake. It offers false hope, which just robs people of the one life they could have enjoyed.

Why do they discount this life so much anyway? Do they honestly think that regularly attending meetings with a small group of people to sing together and read stories from a collection of iron age books is going to win them favours with an invisible being in the sky such that it will save them while killing everyone else? Really? Do they actually think that the whole point of this life is to solve this cosmic riddle so that an invisible genie can grant them a role in his magic castle?

This. Is. Not. Normal.

Christadelphians obsess about death because they want you to fear. Because people who live in fear are easier to manipulate.