I saw two bible verses posted on Facebook recently that caught my attention.
Mind you, these are verses that I loved as a Christian. In that way that believers do, I kept them “close to my heart.” By saying that, these were the things I recalled when times were hard or I was troubled.
This one is sort of long so I’m throwing the rest below the fold.
The first verse I saw recently was Proverbs 3:5:
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
The verses are tucked away in Proverbs, supposedly some of the soundest advice you can read. According to scripture, heeding proverbs leads to a long, peaceful and prosperous life. And if you doubt that, if you lack faith, doom and gloom will surely find you.
This is what many of us Americans were taught. And for me, the sheer act of letting a few doubts penetrate my mind were to blame when things didn’t go my way. When I got in trouble or I was sick with a cold or flu, it was the direct result of my failure to submit to Proverbial advice.
I’m not saying my logic was sound. But I’m saying it was the logic I was taught. It was the reading comprehension I went away with after reading these passages and memorizing them (even to this day).
The psychology is all there in those verses. Verse 6 reads:
6 in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.t
7 Do not be wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord and shun evil.
8 This will bring health to your body
and nourishment to your bones.
But let me return to vs 5. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.”
This is dismal advice, dear reader. Dismal.
If you trust in the Lord — a quiet being whose voice differs from person to person, from church to church, from country to country — you don’t get understanding. You get confusion.
“God is not a god of confusion, Jeremy,” you say. And I was taught that. I don’t agree. Even when I believed, he confused the fuck out of me.
All your ducks!
The verse also bothers me, because it tells you that you are nothing. Your intuitions and ideas are crap. Your business sense. Your years of experience, that’s horse shit. You should trust God.
I know people who do that. And they lead weird, chaotic lives.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind
When I was taught this, there were no metaphors in the bible. It was all literal fact. To literally love god and god only leaves no room for loving anyone else. It’s a fractional nightmare.
I’m sure this has been discussed a zillion times by a zillion different people.
To be at peace, ignore biblical advice
My point is simply this, there was nothing — at least for me — that set my mind at ease when I sought these verses for comfort. Inevitably, they made my mind hurt worse, as I was somewhat sure my intelligence was superior to the advice of giving it all over to Jesus.
If I gave it all up, I’m a mindless moron.
Based on the trials and errors of my experience, those were times when I felt most confident.
Why do I spend time writing about any of this if I’m so comfortable now as an atheist? I do it because as an atheist, I’m faced with belief and believers. And when they present it to me, I respond.
And if I were a believer, I would somewhat feel empowered by reading what the heathen thinks. But in a guilty, mischievous sort of way, I would live vicariously through the doubts of others, because I wasn’t allowed to doubt myself.