How Some Religions Teach You To Hate Yourself
The Message I Grew Up With.
An article about Religion and its impact on self esteem hit close to home. In the services we called meetings, I was told that I was weak. That my reasoning could not be trusted. That I was born sinful. And yes, that I was nothing without Jesus.
It's good to see people talking about this. There are far healthier ways to raise children with or without religion. The barrage of messages I got explicitly and in song, undermined my view of myself as strong, good, compassionate, capable, and worthy of love.
Here are some excerpts from an article by Neil Carter that got me thinking;
"There is a song they often played at the gym...that...topped the charts when it came out, and it remains among the favorites for Christian radio stations everywhere. It’s called “So Long, Self” and it’s sung by Mercy Me, the same group that brought us the perennial funeral standby, “I Can Only Imagine.” Here is a sample of the lyrics of the song:
So long, self! Well, it’s been fun, but I have found somebody else So long, self! There’s just no room for two, so you are gonna have to move So long, self! Don’t take this wrong but you are wrong for me, farewell Oh well, goodbye, don’t cryyyy…woahoah so long, self!
Does this strike you as a subculture that teaches people a healthy view of themselves? Me neither. And lest you think I’m making much ado about nothing, I maintain that you can learn a lot by listening to the songs people sing, especially when those songs were specifically written to reinforce centrally important theological ideas the way songs do on Christian radio stations.
For several years now, I’ve been teasing out the most basic definition of “Christian” I can find, trying to nail down what is The Christian View...there is not one single, monolithic Christianity. There are many christianities, and each one is pretty sure theirs is The Right One and all the others have it wrong.
But there are at least a handful of essentials which seem to undergird everything that can reasonably called “Christianity,” and this appears to be one of them: You have to feel that you need saving in the first place. And that means taking whatever your current view of yourself happens to be—no matter how low it already is—and lowering it even further.
At a bare minimum, you have to believe that your flaws, taken together with the flaws of the rest of humanity, are so egregious and offensive to God that someone had to be tortured and killed in your place. The most widely accepted versions additionally maintain that eternal, conscious torment awaits anyone who doesn’t properly come to terms with whatever it was you did that provoked God to do what he did to Jesus on your behalf. You must really be one messed up character."