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Showing posts from 2006

You Have the Right to Remain Silent

A couple of months ago, I was accused by someone of being pathologically secretive because I refused to share a certain piece of information with her. I still maintain that it was none of her business, but it got me thinking about the fact that I do tend to hide my emotions and true opinions from most people. Now that my mom is gone, there are only five people in the world with whom I feel I can be completely honest, and two of them are my siblings.

It's hard for me to open up and trust anyone, and I know that it's related in part to my CoC upbringing. I learned early on that whatever you say can and will be used against you. For example, I never told anyone what I was reading, listening to, or watching, because I knew it would be condemned. I never shared my hopes and dreams because I knew they would be disdained. I never gave an honest opinion because I knew it would be disparaged.

I also learned never to admit sin or weakness of any kind in public. The CoC has a tradition tha…

(Un)Holy Days

The church of Christ officially does not celebrate religious holidays. There is no Christmas pageant with the kids cutely flubbing their lines. There is no glorious Easter celebration with trumpets and lilies. In fact, every Easter Sunday, we were treated to a sermon explaining why true Christians don't celebrate Easter because it has its origins in pagan holidays (never mind the fact that Christianity itself is a blend of Jewish and pagan traditions). And around this time of year, we started getting lectures about how Christmas really isn't Jesus' birthday because we don't know for certain when he was born. In this regard, the CoC is very close doctrinally to the non-Christian sects, such as the Jehovah's Witnesses and the Mormons, and is completely out of step with the rest of Christianity (which it rejects as being apostate anyway).

Despite the church's official stance, many people in the church do have a Christmas tree and presents and they let their kids hu…

Women Are Second-Class Citizens

The one point of church of Christ doctrine that I never believed or accepted is that women are inherently inferior to men. Of course, if you ask a CoC-er about this, they'll deny teaching that women are inferior and will insist that the sexes are equal in God's eyes, but that men and women have different "roles to play" in life and that women are not supposed to have leadership over a man in any circumstances. A woman's primary role is to be a wife and mother and stay at home if it's at all possibly economically, while a man's role is to be a husband and father and rule over his household, including his wife.

Whether or not a CoC preacher comes right out and says that women are inferior, however, the attitude of the men in the church is crystal clear. Women are treated with utter condescension, especially if they try to question the men. A woman's opinion carries no weight. Her concerns are met with scorn. And no matter how well educated she is, she st…

Don't Hold Me Back

I know that everyone has their struggles and problems, but growing up in a cult-like church really puts a stranglehold on your development because pretty much everything is forbidden. For example, my siblings and I weren't allowed to take swimming lessons because swimsuits are immodest clothing. We couldn't watch a lot of popular TV shows because they were "dirty" or "immoral." Same thing with popular music. Surprisingly, they didn't censor our reading, which was good for me. I never would've learned anything about sex otherwise. (Speaking of sex, that's going to be a separate post entirely. I still haven't gotten past the negative attitude the church has toward sex and the human body and struggle with a lot of guilt.)

We couldn't participate in school activities on Wednesday nights because we had to go to Bible study every Wednesday. Sundays were a total wash because we had to go to church twice, for a grand total of 3 hours (or more): …

Life In a Fishbowl

In my hometown (population 3500), everyone knows everyone. They know all your business, sometimes even before you do. So there was no hiding the fact that my family was involved in a crazy cultish church. The funny thing is, my hometown is dominated by another crazy cultish church that broke off from the Mennonites about 100 years ago. People who are involved in that church run the show, because their ancestors were the ones who first settled that area and founded the town; thus, they own all the land and pretty much everything on it. People who aren't members of that church but are members of the mainstream denominations and the Catholic church aren't the pillars of the community but at least they're accepted and not treated as outcasts. Not so with my family's church. We were the weirdest of the weird. To make matters even worse, there was a church of Christ in our town, but it wasn't "scripturally sound" enough for my dad, so we had to travel 15 miles …

Definitions

The church from which I escaped is the Church of Christ. We're not talking about the United Church of Christ--that's a liberal mainstream denomination. I wish I'd been brought up in a church like that. Maybe I wouldn't be such a mess. We're also not talking about the International Church of Christ. They're closer to an outright cult.

The church into which I had the misfortune to be raised is the nondenominational church of Christ. Within that group there's a wide spectrum of beliefs. Most CoCs are fairly close to the mainstream and do things that normal churches do: they have food pantries and community outreach programs, they have Christmas and Easter programs for the kids, and they support institutions that help people in need (such as orphanages and homeless shelters). Churches like that account for about 80% of the CoCs. I grew up in one of the remaining 20%: the "anti" churches. They're called "anti" because they're against e…

Where Do I Begin?

I used to try to be normal. I longed to be normal. I wanted to be like the other kids at school--pretty, popular, easy-going. But no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't fit in. Part of it was me. I was shy and withdrawn. But the biggest problem was that my family belonged to a church that borders on being a cult. When you grow up in that weird, airless environment of a small Midwestern, fundamentalist church, you can never be normal. Your life can never be like the lives of your friends or the people you meet. You will always be on the outside looking in. You will never fit in with the wider culture, no matter how hard you try. This is my story of how I got out of that church and learned to stand on my own two feet. I'm still not normal, but at least I escaped with my sanity and my soul. Normal is not an option....