The Jesus Drug

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“Feel you when I’m restless, feel you when I cannot cope

You’re my addiction, my prescription, my antidote

You kill the poison, ease the suffering

Calm the rage when I’m afraid to feel again

 

You’re better than drugs

Your love is like wine

Feel you comin’ on so fast, feel you comin’ to get me high

You’re better than drugs

Addicted for life”


“Better Than Drugs” by Skillet was one of the many songs that permeated my young life, as did its message. The concept of Jesus’, or more accurately the Holy Spirit, as this thing that can make one experience a “high” is not all uncommon to many denominations of Christianity. Go into any Pentacostal-esque church and you will witness speaking in tongues (that is, gibberish speaking where those inflicted believe they are speaking in an angelic language), falling on the floor where they proceed to either go catatonic or writhe, moan in a strangely sexual way, weep, or laugh, and all sorts of ecstatic behavior.

In the teenage life of many Christians, the use of Jesus as a drug is more exemplified by the first line: “feel you when I cannot cope.” Turning to Jesus becomes an escape. When the teenage angst gets too hard, the answer is to pray, read the bible, listen to Christian music, or anything at all relating to God. To completely saturate oneself with the Gospel in anyway possible. And only the Gospel: only Christian music, only Christian books fiction and non-fiction, only Christian games, movies with only Christian values (we skip through any sexy scenes, btw). If someone got sick, we’d hold prayer meetings and saturate ourselves in prayer, so we’d learn quick that it’s not medicine that heals, it’s God. We’d have youth groups for teens where we’d get to unleash our pain to each other, and instead of giving advice, we’d lay hands on each other and pray. We’d get to cry, sure, but ultimately “give the pain to God,” have a worship session, and go home happy and drugged up.   

What happens when one goes without the drug? Does one go into Jesus’ withdrawal?

 

“I hate feelin’ like this

I’m so tired of tryin’ to fight this

I’m asleep and all I dream of is waking to you

 

Tell me that you will listen

Your touch is what I’m missin’

And the more I hide I realize I’m slowly losin’ you

 

Comatose

I’ll never wake up without an overdose of you

I don’t wanna live

I don’t wanna breathe

‘less I feel you next to me

You take the pain I feel

(Wakin’ up to you never felt so real)

I don’t wanna sleep

I don’t wanna dream

Cause my dreams don’t comfort me

The way you make me feel

(Wakin’ up to you never felt so real)

I hate livin’ without you

Dead wrong to ever doubt you

But my demons lay in waitin’

Tempting me away”

Christians would often call this withdrawal, as seen above from, again, lyrics from Skillet, “doubt.” There was one night in particular I will never forget when I put this song on repeat, and knelt in tears, singing/praying the lyrics over and over again. Every word I meant. It was one of my last cries of desperation in a stage of very deep, tormented doubt. I wept for hours, and I would again for many nights. It physically, mentally, and emotionally hurt like nothing I’ve ever felt.

You see, I was born an intellectual person. I always had an unquenching desire to know. When I was very young, this showed itself best in my little 6, 7, 8 year old self sitting during the worship service reading the Bible instead of singing the songs (which weren’t boring hymns like most churches, but the jump up and down kind). Instead of watching Veggie Tales and playing games in the little kids Sunday school, I got put in the big kids’ class where we read the Bible, memorized verses, and asked questions.

I did Christianity hard. By my teens I’d been baptised, in water and the Holy Spirit with manifestation of gifts of the Holy Spirit (tongues and prophesy), gone on a healing crusade where I “healed” people, read the Bible front to cover in multiple versions more times than I could keep track of, and started a Bible club at my High school by petitioning the principal of the school. I read commentaries, took notes in the margins of every bible I read, highlighted, did devotions twice a day, read and listened to everything by Dr. Dan Brown and got certified in Healing Ministries and Gifts of the Spirit through Kenneth Copeland Ministries. I consumed everything I knew to consume. And I believed, damn it. I loved Jesus with everything I was, with every atom of my being. I talked to him every moment and believed he talked back. I lead hundreds in the Sinner’s Prayer, personally. Jesus was my everything.

And then I got the call to ministry.

And I went to a federally accredited Christian college.  

And long story short- I read Richard Dawkins, Timothy Keller, The Dead Sea Scrolls, Socrates, Plato, Kierkegaard, Robert Wright, Christopher Hitchens, I read commentaries by Atheists, Jews, Agnostics, Muslims, and Christians of all types. I read the Bible in Hebrew. I read anything, and everything. I wrote my Pastor with questions, I wrote and spoke with my (very Christian) professors, I spoke with students, I typed on message boards and forums, I asked questions everywhere I possibly could. And one by one my doctrines came to be questioned by reason and logic until they all fell away.

And there I was at the end of it all, an Atheist with no Jesus drug to help me cope with the pain of my long untreated mental illness and dysfunctional upbringing, or to comfort me from the loss of friends and family who wanted very little to do with me now that I wasn’t a Christian. But that, not the doubt it self, was the withdrawal. All the pain, the loss, the “oh shit how do I cope now?”, was the coming down process.

I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, but neither would I ever go back to the addiction. The addiction kept me blind from reason – from seeing two sides of the argument, not just one, and discerning for oneself, from seeing science and philosophy and logic and doubt and tasting it all -, from entirely healthy parts of life such as sexual exploration, love in all its forms, making mistakes, and living life to the fullest, and from proper self care, not faith [[ many sects have an irrational fear and/or outright contempt for psychology and all its medicinal help for people with mental illness]].

The Jesus’ drug culture is not healthy. When these two songs came on my playlist, because yeah I still listen to my old Christian stuff, I cringed. There is nothing ok with raising young people to seek a thing that does not exist to give it a placebo like high for all of life’s ills, and to drown their mind, senses, and psyche with nothing but that drug.

Just say no.

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5 Things I’ve Learned From Religion

I’ve gone from Fundamental Christianity, to agnostic, to new Atheist, and now to A-theistic A-gnostic. I use the hyphens in my current designation to bring attention to the basic meaning of the words. Basically, I don’t have a Theistic system I follow and I don’t claim to know jack.

I’ve gone through these phases by studying, reading, and conversing with leaders and followers of all types ( I call these ventures my field studies). After coming through all these titles to a less aggressive and open not knowing shit stance, I’ve had time to reflect, humbly and honestly, on what I have learned from religion.

1. You Reap What’s Been Sown

Ah, the Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13) paired with “You reap what you sow. (Galatians 6:7). This was a favorite of my farmer-turned-Pastor’s weekly sermons. The farming metaphor was drilled so far into my mind that it will never leave.

But it’s a universal truth that can be applied to anything really. What our parents down into us, will we see bloom in our lives later on: be it abuse, wisdom, or neglect. Bad attitudes often sow negativity, and creates a harvest cycle of negativity. Hospitality and good deeds, likewise, brings the same when down and the individual falls into their own hard times; after all, we’re all more likely to help those who helped us, aren’t we?

2. Not all Religions/Denominations/People are ” Religious”.

We’ve all seen Atheists do this a lot in defense of the “Atheism is a religion too” argument:

religion (rɪˈlɪdʒən)

— n
1. belief in, worship of, or obedience to a supernatural power or powers considered to be divine or to have control of human destiny
2. any formal or institutionalized expression of such belief: the Christian religion
3. the attitude and feeling of one who believes in a transcendent controlling power or powers

Newsflash: Google, Webster, and Collins are not the gods of word meanings. Yes, yes, it’s a dictionary. But language belongs to those who are communicating. It’s a tool, a subjective one. Words change meaning at the drop of a hat. A “wall” now, when one “posts” on it, for example, almost always means FB now. Before FB, it spoke of people tacking things physically to a wall.

So no, not all religions fit all mighty Webster’s definition. Which leads to my next point:

3. Not all Religions believe in a God, or find it necessary to do so.

I learned this soon after jumping out of fundamental Christianity and into atudying. Ancient and Reform Judaism. Both give no clear definition of God, no face, no none metaphorical descriptive words. Ask a Jew, oftentimes what or who God is and they won’t give you a definitive answer.

Ancient Judaism (think Old Testament) is riddled with doubt and woes over the focal question we all ask at times “Where are you God?” Reform Judaism was best explained to me in books and from meeting with a local Rabbi. When told of my disbelief, he responded: “Judaism has always queationed, and these questions are encouraged even questioning the very existence of god”.

As far as Christianity, some follow the ” once saved always saved” doctrine. In this case, I’m still a Christian since I did the prayer and was “born-again,” as my family says: “I’m just on a journey.”

4. Religion has many assholes.

We’ve all met these, they’re everywhere. And no, they’re not exclusive to religion. However. When one goes into an honest search and quest to “find themselves” and meet such people it can and does deter many from the religion. Instantly. The wiser seekers will head my last point below, but when one keeps trying and finding nothing by condescending, holier-than-thou, fire and brimstone preaching, guilt tripping, damning, judgmental representatives of a religion…. Well, one can only take so much before they cross that religion off their list.

5. Fundamentals, Hate Groups, and Terrorist do not represent the entire religion.

This can be best exemplified with a modern example: NYC after 9-11. Almost every was out from a Muslim. The ridiculous profiling (often those profiled, not a Muslim at all) went hay-wire for a while.

Despite many Islam-haters interpretation of the Koran, many Muslims are very peaceful people who have interpreted THEIR (its their book, let them interpret how they want) Holy Book in a completely different fashion than the Terrorist we like to jokingly describe as strapping bombs to themselves.

The old adage reigns true here: ” Don’t miss the Forrest for the trees.” Many religions have a vast wealth of knowledge concerning culture, community, spirituality, and life wisdom. Don’t miss it.

What do you think of this list? Is it true? Would you add any or take any out?

Leave your thoughts!