“Religions are not truth. Their just a path. And different people follow different paths.”
This is a sentence from a book I was reading last weekend – it really spoke to me and has been in my thoughts since.
As someone who was raised in a Christian family and who believed that Christianity was the only ‘truth’, this was a really interesting thing to read.
I’ll be honest with you, dear friend. I shy away from writing about religion here because I know some of you who read my words are Christian and I don’t want to offend you with my views.
But in line with my recent post about loving myself enough, I’m going to write about it. Because, when I loved myself enough, I gave myself permission to express my thoughts, even when they differed from the thoughts of other people.
I know from my own experience the danger of living as if my own religion is the only truth. I put judgements on other people and alienated myself because of thinking that I was right and they were wrong.
I’m sad to admit it, but I judged people who weren’t heterosexual when I was a Christian, thinking they were somehow wrong for loving who they loved and being who they inherently were. And in doing so, I locked myself down to a heteronormative label when I think that human sexuality is more fluid than the black and white ‘hetero vs. homo’ line that we so often draw.
My fixation on the ‘truth’ hurt me and it hurt others.
I also judged people who followed another religion – worrying for their soul and, if I’m honest, feeling superior in my ‘rightness’ as a Christian. I read about how other religions were wrong, even Catholicism which has the same ‘God’ at the heart of it, just because they pray to saints.
This makes me feel so sad – the fixation on showing how others were wrong in their beliefs.
With this belief that Christianity was the only truth, there wasn’t much room for debating and grappling with what I was taught. It wasn’t discouraged, but it wasn’t encouraged either or something I engaged in.
I take heart from Christian bloggers I know who are challenging, debating and seeing where the teachings and beliefs fit with them (Clotilde, my sister’s friend is one of those – her blog is here).
I think a truth which hasn’t been tested personally and intellectually is dangerous but that is how I lived for the most part as a Christian.
Looking back, I see such a strict black-and-whiteness about so many things in following the ‘truth’ of Christianity.
Beliefs about sex before marriage being wrong, the danger of being friends or in a relationship with ‘non-believers’, the importance of converting those I knew who didn’t share my faith, the ability to be healed being based on the strength of your faith.
In fairness, not all these teachings came from my church. Some views came from visiting preachers, discussions with other believers, Christian festivals and me taking the word of the bible as truth without grappling with it.
But the one thing that bound all of these issues is the focus on Christianity being the ‘truth’, not a path to finding personal truth.
This is something I’m still grappling with. My experience of religion, my current knowledge of Christians as being more flexible, more inquisitive. My search for a ‘church’ like community which comes together for the beauty of being in community.
And as someone grappling with this, I’d be interested to know your views on this, dear friend.
All I know is that this feels right for me, right now. That religions are just paths to personal truth.
And I take great comfort in the clarity that this small sentence brought to me. It sums up a belief deep inside me that I hadn’t been able to voice until now.