Outgrowing Religion

We are All One posted in Outgrowing ReligionPhotoShop Art Created by Esther

Growing Pains

We are all one, aren’t we? Except that’s not what our family religion taught, which made outgrowing religion extremely painful for me. Whether or not folks realize or not, Jehovah’s Witnesses is one of many religions full of oppressive rules which members are not allowed to question. If a member had doubts and questions, he/she is viewed as a “Doubting Thomas.” The member is then watched with suspicion, as he/she might be an “Apostate” — a heretic, an infidel, a Judas. After all, he/she might be the one bad apple that spoils the entire bushel basket. The only way to prevent “spiritual contamination” is to watch everyone. Even better, if the elders could get its members to tell on one another. And that is exactly what they do.

“Pure Language of Truth”?

The religion was full of “shoulds” and “should nots.” Members were not empowered to use their own mind — everything was “group think — group speak.” They were proud of the fact that they had their own “pure language of truth.” As if every other religion speaks un-truths. The elders based it on a scripture:

“For then I shall give to peoples the change to a pure language…”—Zephaniah 3:10 (NWT)[1]

In therapy I learned that the “should” word is about rules — someone else’s rules. By the time I was “should-ed” on, I had heard the rule through many mouths. In therapy I began to realize I was outgrowing religion. With that realization, it felt reasonable to ask the questions:

  • Where did the rule originate?
  • What was the purpose of the rule?
  • Does it apply to my life in a healthy way?
  • Does it fit where I am today?
  • How does the “should” rule feel in my body when “should-ed” upon?

Outgrowing Evangelism

Regarding the practice of going door-to-door to convert my neighbors, I began feeling it was disrespectful to think that I had some superior knowledge over what my neighbors believed. It would be disrespectful to have a friendship with my neighbors for the reason to convert them to my family’s religion. Was I really showing love to my neighbor if I thought they knew less than me about the power of god in their life? How could I possibly know what was best for someone else? What I thought while in the indoctrinated state could only be described as arrogant. How could I not outgrow religion which exhibited itself in such a contemptible fashion?

When I began to question the “shoulds” I was afraid that I would be betraying my own sense of values and principles for my life. Even so, I had outgrown those archaic rules. I began to realize it was none of my business what my neighbors chose to believe. It would not be fair and balanced to think I knew what was best for my neighbors.

Outgrowing Religion was My “Moral Downfall”?

What does it take to open up the crack of doubt and peer through enough in order to glimpse another reality? In my case, I began taking dance lessons and ended up having an affair with my dance partner. Therein lay my moral downfall, according to the tribunal of religious elders who judged me. I had been “contaminated” by the world, and not fit to be a member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses group any longer. They disfellowshipped me in order to punish me and bring me back to my senses.

Except that I kept going once I got outside the Kingdom Hall (church) door. When I looked back I was mortified to look upon what I used to be. I made a vow to purge every last vestige of that old belief system which served no one except the religious patriarchs in the Warwick, New York head offices.

What is My Truth?

Now, I believe we were all born with an inherent ability to think and feel for ourselves. Some call it “intuition” — others call it “common sense”. Thanks to religion, those natural abilities have been “deadened” by rules. Thanks to religion, people are now told how to think and what to feel. I have personally been told, “You shouldn’t think like that” or “You shouldn’t feel like that.” Thinking and feeling for myself had become a mortal sin. Religious patriarchs insisted on members giving their power of decision-making over to them. So much for free will.

I decided to take a brave look at myself in the mirror and find my own truth, rather than blindly accept some so-called “religious truth” which no longer fits my life. I looked deeply into myself to find my own personal truth. In order to make this connection, I took a deep and honest look at my inner life and realized conclusively that I was outgrowing religion.

Before that happened, I was always afraid I might slip back because of religious conditioning. But then I began to consciously recognize the times when I looked elsewhere for answers. By bringing myself back into my Inner Self, I began to recall what I already knew — I wasn’t superior to anyone. We are all human, after all. There is no need to be divided by religion. I repeat, we are all human and we are all ONE — and that felt freeing. Finally!


References

[1]  New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures, Revised 1984.

Related Reading

Read how Judgment and Comparison Generates Fear in Congregations The believers are encouraged to compare and judge another believer! I heard a talk once in which the congregation was compared to a wheel.


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