How I Left Christianity Part 3: Authority Figures Can Be Wrong
February 13, 2012 8 Comments
Children are taught to trust authority figures: parents, teachers, pastors, policemen–the list goes on and on. When you’re a child, every adult is an authority figure. You watch and learn that adults have authority figures, too–parishioners defer to the pastor, parents to the police, teachers to the principal. The authority figures that even adults defer to are given even higher status in a child’s mind. Once a person is given such status in childhood, most often that status will remain unchallenged by the child as she grows into adulthood.
When an adult has this status, their word is infallible. What they say must be true. What they order must be obeyed. What they believe is right.
This is why Christians work so hard to isolate themselves from nonbelievers, as well as to drive non-Christians (and other undesireables, such as LGBTQI people) out of the public eye. If children (or “young” Christians) see that adults disagree, or that certain truths are anything but (like LGBTQI people being depraved, disease-ridden, and unhappy) then their status as authority figures and Holders of Truth begins to unravel. Awkward questions will be asked. Absolute trust begins to crumble.
Now, eventually all children learn this lesson, as they grow older and begin to interact in less hierarchical ways with adults. But learning this lesson in regards to my spiritual authorities was absolutely vital.
One can be an adult in every other matter–age, autonomy, maturity, financially–but still spiritually be a child. That is, depending on a pastor, a book, a denomination, etc. for answers and guidance spiritually. Until you seek out answers for yourself, until you ask yourself questions, you will never be anything but dependent on another in this regard.
It may be something as simple as quoting a bible verse wrong, or claiming to act in accordance with the bible while actually doing the opposite, that triggers the realization that spiritual authorities can be, and very often are wrong. You have to start asking little questions about small matters before you can make the leap to asking the big questions.
That’s what happened to me. I witnessed several things that made me realize that these people that I believed had the truth about God–were wrong. If they were wrong about these things, what else could they be wrong about? Perhaps I should ask someone else? Perhaps I should find out on my own?
Note: I’m going to write about a couple of these events later in the series, because they had a very big impact on me–that’s why I’m not giving specifics here.