Rethinking My Beliefs about God Apart From Traditional Christianity

Love is Not Real Unless There is Freedom to Hate

In Freedom, Life, Love on February 4, 2011 at 10:25 am

After ranting and venting my feelings about the Christian religion, which may or may not be God’s thoughts too, I am amazed at how quickly freedom can work. Already I am seeing the perceived injustices of Christianity in a new light.

Where I thought that I was once blinded by evil religion and now I see, I think this would be better described as one and the same journey. The girl who embarked upon religion is the same woman who exited it. Is one part of my journey more worthy than another?

It also helps for me to remember that the cold-blooded, distant and demanding fundamentalists have real lives just like me. They wake up in the morning, eat, work, rest and go to sleep at night too. They have families and struggles and fears just like anyone else and really, in that sense, what is so different about all of us anyway? Although religion (and politics) has a way of dividing people, in reality, it’s easy to forget that we’re all rowing the same boat and the name of that boat is humanity.

But what’s interesting to me is the process for which these dividing walls might crumble. I’m figuring out through trial and error that it’s not a matter of demanding that we all love each other, but more an issue of accepting our own contempt for each other. (I don’t expect the fundies to buy this idea or understand it.)

Just in case you think you might have misunderstood me, I will repeat myself. Love does not happen through some demand to love, or law of love, but through our freedom to actually despise people….

Once again, real life experience proves to be a completely different story than what I learned at the midweek Bible study at church. How often have I heard of the two greatest commandments given to us straight from the Christ himself which says that we must love God and love our neighbor as ourself? I don’t know about you, but I thought that meant that I needed to get out there and start loving people.

And that’s where we run into some issues. Love isn’t as easy as a Bible commandment. We quickly learn that the purpose of any law or commandment in the Bible is given to show us all that we are complete failures. Being rather stubborn, some of us (especially the fundies) stand our ground and keep trying harder throughout our entire lives. And with all of our trying we fail to see our great and miserable hypocrisy. That is the result of trying to live by Bible commands.

Love isn’t a law. Turning it into a law completely destroys it, as any real friendship will testify. When we demand another to love us, that’s the very last thing they want to do; if they did love us, we might wonder if they were only fulfilling some duty of obedience, as opposed to naturally loving us from the bottom of their heart.

On the other hand, we can know that someone really loves us if they are free to also hate us. So we give them space. We wait and see how they act around us or we measure their words to see what they might reveal. We know that any pressure might dent their authenticity. But over time, and through matters of thick and thin, a person’s genuine thoughts and feelings toward us become at least somewhat obvious. Their choice to stick with us holds weight because they also had the choice many times to leave.

Just as freedom to hate lends meaning to our love, so it is through our failures that we learn to succeed. This is why it is so important to be honest. The path to righteousness (love) is not a straight path but it’s a meandering trail through real life experiences that are going to stretch us, shake us and kick our butts. In the end, we come out looking like gold but that’s not our point here.

If we have demanding parents, a demanding spouse, a demanding church or any other demanding authority in our lives (our own selves?) we might deny our real emotions to maintain “peace.” Instead of admitting our so-called failures, we cover them up with a lot of hard work and an appropriate facade. If we really do not like someone, we certainly wouldn’t admit it because that would be a “failure” on our part. But this denial destroys our honesty which destroys our genuine love, which destroys our relationships.

This is how Christianity taught me to ignore reality. Saved, righteous people aren’t supposed to be bitter, hateful or even angry. So I learned to suppress my emotions. I found out later that I had buried them under a lot of theology and church activity. I am still in the process of recovering them.

This is why I will now defend my freedom to the death and also why I have very little patience with people who try to “correct” me. It’s only in my freedom to be honest with you that I can ever hope to honestly love you. Sure, I run the risk of scaring you away with my honesty, but that’s the risk of a genuine relationship.

In reality, people have problems – every one of us. We’re behind in our work, not as successful as we hoped to be, not as healthy or fit, or our kids are fighting, our mom has cancer, a friend lost their child, our brother is getting divorced, a neighbor got robbed, innocent civilians overseas are being brutally killed, and an earthquake leaves untold numbers of children as orphans. Sometimes life just totally and completely sucks.

Instead of zoning out in front of the TV or getting lost in a book or plastering on the fake smile at church, we were intended to feel and express our pain. This is not only how we learn and grow, but it is how our love finds its honesty and depth.

Ranting and venting is imperative for genuine love. Don’t let anyone make you feel guilty for being a real person who “fails.” Our failures are part of the natural world. If we want to actually grow, we must feel the actual pain that strengthens us. Reality is the only path to genuine love and nothing causes us to really grow… like reality, if we are brave enough to face it.

That’s how I understand love at this point in my journey anyway.

  1. For me, loving the universe for all that it is and all that inhabit it does not equate to my preference in human behavior. Loving the grand scheme of all existence form and content for it’s supercalifragilisticexpialidocious beauty does not mean liking what doesn’t work for me, but what is, is: I can either accept it or do something. It takes a lot of energy to sustain hatred (which may be just fear and avoidance … of pain or change or whatever), and I usually succeed much more with changing what is via attraction vs promotion. So sometimes the something to do is to remove myself to preserve my freedom to be at peace with myself and then enjoy loving the other from a distance (sometimes a GREAT distance).

    It is important for me to remember that sometimes the little old lady who I want to help cross the street is going in another direction altogether, so I should just damn well my mind own business and leave her be.

    I’m not suggesting that your viewpoint is in anyway flawed, it is inevitably exactly what is right for you at this juncture. Rather, I’m saying that I’ve been the antagonist for most of my life, the obstinate debater, the non-conformist amidst so-called non-conforming herds, the proverbial Socratic fly. A declared atheist from 10 to 15 and an avowed agnostic for at least 30 years after, I became just as lost to myself in the venting and ranting about the hypocrisy as many become in the mindless ritual following. I hid my misunderstanding of my pain and rage at specific people, places, and things under a wet blanket of disgust with the world and in doing so I deprived myself of the awesome gift of being able to forgive the perpetrators of harm to me. I prevented myself from seeing my part in traumatic situations and events (and the perpetuation of them in my own subconscious) and thus prevented myself from forgiving me for my “failings”. I was so busy being right that I didn’t leave much time to be truly happy.

    Today I have no further need or desire to be disagreeable. I find it a much greater challenge to find the honest (emphasis on honest) common ground, if there is any, and build upon it. And if there is no commonality (and I need to be honest about this as well and not in denial or trying to manage or control the reality)? There are other rows to hoe.

    Today, I have opted to have a personal relationship with an intelligence greater than myself which expresses love to me and through me in conjunction with other people and the universe as a whole. I enjoy finding concurrence with various tenets and scriptures and express my preference for sharing experiences with others while avoiding combative engagement unless I can make it an adventure in playful humor (why make enemies? they tend to impinge upon my freedoms). I also enjoy those f@&^$ng spiritual growth opportunities, although not always as they are in process. And I especially like that in my personal relationship with this Higher Power, I have granted myself permission to HATE She/He/It when She/He/It happens because SHEHEIT happens from time to time and I step in it sometimes and I really don’t like the stink of it. But it’s all good, because if anyone/anything can take my hatred it would be the Great Grand Poo-bah of creation and all existence.

    So in this way I absolutely affirm your original premise! The freedom to hate liberates me to really love _____ (insert utterance for unnameable infinite eternal oneness here).

    Of course, if you catch me early tomorrow morning in the bleary-eyed semi-consciousness before I have my first cup of coffee, I may have a completely different opinion about all of this. And I may be willing to fight over it! 😉

  2. The freedom to hate liberates me to really love – LOVE IT!

  3. Loved it, EDK! I am going to quote you on my FB wall.

    As I was reading what you wrote, my mind wandered over to a question I have simmering on the backburner regarding “free will”. Taking your thoughts and applying them to what is on my mind at the moment, I got to thinking how the freedom to love or hate is part of that. When you are free to hate, the “I love you” is real (for each other or God). Freedom gives your choices integrity.

  4. What a fantastic post.

    I de-converted years ago but still feel the obligation to “love” everyone. Even and especially the people I dislike the most. Like you said it makes it incredibly difficult to be genuine and yet I still feel guilty for these emotions at times.

  5. […] Love is Not Real Unless There is Freedom to Hate. This post may stretch your brain. I know that I had to read it more than once to understand what the author was saying. Instead of expecting ourselves to love everyone we should have a different term for engaging with people we don’t get along with than we use for the people we genuinely care about and love. […]

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