When I was 19 I temporarily married a Shia muslim man from Pakistan. We remained ‘married’ for around 8 months in secret until the pressure from his parents to find a muslim wife became so heavy, that he considered telling them the truth. That he was in love with and to all intents and purposes, married to a Christian caucasian girl from Manchester.
We were both ‘of the book’ and so officially the union was allowed, but the reality was we were young, in love…but had only got married so that we could have sex. Sex outside marriage was inconceivable for him. But so was getting married to me for life. And telling his parents would have meant a life sentence. So we dissolved it.
A temporary marriage is called Mut’ah and is one of the biggest bones of contention in Islam. A temporary marriage can be used as a sort of engagement period before a full marriage. You can stipulate whether sexual relations are included or not (but given that our purpose was to get rid of his virginity, that was kind of a given). But it can also be a stand-alone marriage lasting 1 day, 1 week, 1 month or more, and thus provides a loophole for teenage libido, temporary lust and even prostitution.
I took advantage of Mut’ah, because I loved him, or more to the point, he really loved me (and that’s all I ever wanted).
But I couldn’t believe the hypocrisy of a religion which could simultaneously dictate the necessity of virginity and yet legally sanction 1 day marriages in order to ‘allow’ sexual release. I might have been a sinner in terms of Christianity, but at least – so I thought at the time – my religion wasn’t hypocritical. With our union, my spiritual curiosity awoke and we spent a lot of those 8 months arguing about Islam versus Christianity. I always lost the argument but I learned a lot.
I learned that though I was raised on the bible, I didn’t really know it. When I read Revelations I understood even less (although it made marginally more sense on acid). I learned that I was a bishop’s chorister but simply went through the motions of worship. And whilst I was for years an altar girl, I learned that God had never had any real place in my life. Nor would he again.
To this day, 20 years on, my ex- still sends me regular updates on his views of life supported by quotes from various Imams. He is ever more devout (especially because one interpretation of the Qu’ran allows smoking marijuana which he does a lot). But during our time together, I finally read the bible after years of calling myself a Christian, researched various branches of christianity and devoured all the theological analysis by C.S. Lewis. Then I cried. Not because I no longer believed (if I ever did), but because I had nothing else to fill the jesus shaped hole. In fact, as it turned out, it was the exact shape and size of my insecurity. Externalizing my own power had hugely disempowered me. And after years of church going, the hole was huge.
- The bible is flawed, inconsistent and inaccurate
Call yourself a Christian? Then read the bible. Cover to cover. I don’t know ANY christians who have read the book cover to cover (and I grew up with a lot). With good reason. It’s one of the best sleeping pills around. I did it. But when I finished the bible, I was no longer christian (also with good reason).
Because it’s far from being the greatest story on earth. It’s a compilation of contradictory, oppressive and fictional stories marketed as some higher truth. There’s some good stuff in there for sure (mainly about love in the new testament). But overall, it creates division, promotes bloodshed and leads by manipulating its followers with guilt and fear (if you need further confirmation of this, have a look at the Skeptic’s Annotated Bible).
There are also many different versions of the bible. Some say more than 400 000 different versions. That’s a lot of reading to do for devout Christians. In the final analysis it’s a body of work which is collected, created and inspired by man. And therefore flawed.
- Christianity has created the concept of original sin which desires to keep people in ignorance
Sex before marriage is a sin. Homosexuality is a sin. Murder is a sin. Taking the lord’s name in vain is a sin. But these are all nothing compared to the original sin.
The original sin is not sex.
The original sin is human desire to become like God through the gaining of knowledge. I’ll say it again. The original sin was to desire and acquire knowledge. If you are Christian you must believe in the fall of Adam and Eve from the garden of Eden as it is the backbone of why we are no longer living in paradise. They were expelled for disobeying God about this one thing. In Christianity, ignorance is truly bliss. And as outlined numerous times in the bible, Christian God requires unquestioning faith without knowledge (including the willingness to kill your first born son).
All sin, therefore, has its roots in what they call ‘idolatry’, which is the attempt to put something or someone in the place of the Creator (especially yourself). This is why vanity (self-idolatry) is a deadly sin in Christianity – woe betide you might cotton on to the fact that you are truly magnificent without God.
Also, note that whilst there appear varying degrees of sin (Deuteronomy 25:16; Proverbs 6:16-19), the eternal consequences of sinning are the same. That’s right. You will go to hell for saying ‘Bloody hell’ or murder (Romans 6:23). Sin is sin. There’s no in between. And if you don’t believe this, then perhaps you aren’t as Christian as you thought you were.
- Christianity creates artificial conflicts through group think
It’s a religion that creates outcasts (of course it’s not the only one, but it’s the only one about which I can talk with any certainty). Remember those inconsistencies we mentioned? Christians will actively try to convert you and if they cannot, reject you if YOU reject their religion. It’s not a case of loving your neighbour in practice. They will pity you and pray for you. Most will not practise acceptance because your rejection of their religion, means that they themselves feel rejected. That’s because their identity is wrapped up in being a Christian and being part of this group. It’s called group think.
A Christian is someone who wants to give up great things in real life for mediocre ones in an imaginary one. More importantly, they demand you do the same. ~ Mark Twain
Group think is the psychological phenomenon which cultivates conformity through the natural human desire to socialize with and accept one another. None of us like rejection. So in order to achieve this individuals avoid critical thinking which results in a ‘loss of individual creativity, uniqueness and independent thinking.’
Not only does group think dumb down individual thinking, but worse it creates an inflated certainty that Christians have ‘right’ beliefs and others have the ‘wrong’ beliefs (called an ‘illusion of invulnerability). It creates a paradigm of superiority and inferiority (ever heard of Christian missionaries rescuing poor indigenous peoples? This is a classic example).
Because being part of an ‘ingroup’ inflates the ego, blinds your power to see your own unique truth and prevents you from properly loving others. Does this sound christian? It lacks compassion and it’s what – in the final analysis – makes most organized religion ugly. Of course there are people of all faiths who have total compassion. But that makes them beautiful people despite – not because of – Christianity.
I have many friends of many different faiths. I am friends with them because we accept each other and our individual beliefs. The key word there is individual. That means we don’t challenge each other about our beliefs because we have no need to prove superiority or be ‘right’ about our positions.
If you want to be a Christian even after questioning it, good for you. You are able to reconcile points which are for me irreconcilable. I might not agree with it or even understand it. But I will never reject you on the basis of your beliefs. Of course the actions that stem from the basis of your beliefs are different, because there are acts and consequences. But your own beliefs are simply that. They part of your journey. And no one else’s.