Every Sunday, at some point in the day, I think about church. I think about how much I hated it as a child, I think about how much I loved it as an adult (for the brief period that I went). I think about how we’ve become “Those Parents.” You know, the ones who send their children to church with Grandma and Grandpa while the congregation prays for our souls.
My boys love church, because they have had a completely different experience with it than the experience that I had.
If my experience as a had been different, I think I would love church more than anything.
When I think back to my childhood, I have good memories. My mother stayed home with us while my father worked a good paying job for the post office.
I remember making mud pies, playing with neighborhood kids. I remember trips to Disneyland. I remember my mom making food for school parties. I remember my dad being firm, but loving when I’d misbehave. I remember going to church on Sundays and going out to eat after the service.
I was a happy kid with an ordinary, but happy life.
All of that changed the day that The “Apostle” came into our lives.
The Apostle was a little, elderly man from India. I am not quite sure how my parents met him, but I’m sure it was through a member of the church. (My dad was/is a pastor.) At first, he was a delightful man—soft spoken, loving and kind. I used to love to sit in the front row and listen to him preach the Word of God.
But then, he started to teach “his” version of what being a Christian meant.
And my parents (along with every one else in the church) began to accept his teaching as The Word of God.
One sermon, one “AMEN, brother!” at a time, my life as I knew it would be changed forever in a way that haunts me to this day.
The Apostle taught us that women needed to dress modestly. The definition of modest changed every time he spoke of it. And he spoke of it often. The definition became very specific. No makeup (JEZEBEL!). No pants. No arms or legs showing. “Wipe that makeup off of your face, Monkey lips!” He once said to a women sitting in the front row of church.
Suddenly, it became a “sin” for a woman to wear make up. So the women all began showing up to church free from the evil makeup that was made with “ground up bones from aborted babies.”
He also taught that a woman was to submit to her husband and her “place” was in the home, not out in the workplace.
Suddenly, it was a sin for a woman to work outside of the home, for The Apostle said it was her place to breed and cook dinner for her husband.
The church agreed.
The Apostle read a scripture from 1 Corinthians that said “but every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, for that is one and the same as if her head were shaved.” He told us that women needed to “cover” their head before they set foot in the church. “Cover your heads, women!” He said from the pulpit. And without question, women began wearing “coverings” on their head whenever they entered the church.
The women who didn’t wear coverings were scolded and gossiped about for not submitting to the Word of the Lord.
Church was no longer a place to learn the teachings of Jesus. It no longer was a place where we learned how to live a Godly life. It was no longer a place that brought comfort to my soul, but rather a place that I dreaded to be because I had no idea if the outfit I was wearing would be condemned from the pulpit (“Button those buttons up, little girl!”) or if I would get a beating when I got home because I disrespected the “apostle” by acting like the ten year old that I was.
Eventually, my father realized that things had gotten out of hand and that this man wasn’t teaching “the word of God” but rather his own interpretation of God’s word.
I’ll never forget the moment that my father stood up to him and it is one of the reasons why I forgive my father for all that happened (although, clearly, I’m having a really fucking hard time forgetting.)
The “apostle” (Asspostle?!) was, once again, preaching AT the wimmins. He was talking about head coverings. Apparently, it wasn’t good enough for “God” if you wore the covering on your head. Oh! No! God wanted the covering to be pulled down over your forehead, just above your eyes! No, seriously! God said that to him!
My dad was translating the message into Spanish (because there was a large part of the congregation who did not speak English.)
“Pull your coverings down!” Asspostle shouted. “Pull them down and cover your foreheads!”
He waited for my dad to translate.
My dad stayed silent.
“Pull your coverings down!” He shouted again.
My dad remained silent.
He looked over at my dad. I knew something was about to happen from the look on my dad’s face.
“Translate that, brother!” He said to my dad.
“No.” My father shot back. “I will not.”
The “apostle” was stunned, as was everyone else in the church.
“I will not translate what you have just said, because that is not coming from the word of God. Those are YOUR words coming from YOUR mouth and I will NOT take part in telling people YOUR version of the bible.”
It was in that moment that my father acknowledged what had been happening was wrong.
My father has apologized repeatedly for what happened in those years and I do forgive him.
However, I have never been able to rid myself of the pain that came with losing my childhood, with having the most formative years of my life stripped from me, leaving me riddled with shame, insecurities and “what if’s.”
When I think of the high profile cults of the past—the People’s Temple, The Branch Davidians—I think about how EASY it is for people to get caught up in such teachings. Because people are afraid to question these men, they’re afraid of speaking out. They want so badly to believe, to be a part of something so great and Holy. Even when everything in their heart, soul and mind is saying “This is wrong”, they continue to follow blindly, because who are they to question GOD?
I’m not sure what my point is in writing this. I suppose I just wanted to finally put in writing how my once normal, happy childhood was irreparably damaged by one’s man interpretation of the word of God and by my parents’ willingness to blindly follow those words.
I am grateful for the experience it taught me to never blindly follow the words of a man and in learning that, my children will never have to go through such an ordeal. However, I can’t help but wonder if not taking them to church because of MY experience has harmed them in a different way.
I just don’t know.

61 thoughts on “Church

  1. Kyla

    I hate that it happened to you, Y. I really do. It was awful and I so hate it when people decide to speak for God, to twist it all, make it something evil and ugly like that man did to you. It is good to work these things out, identify them, process them. I hope it helps heal those wounds.

  2. Danielle

    Big Hugs. (I was just going to type that in a sort of way to show support but I accidentally typed, Big Hung and I just couldn’t NOT tell you because I know that you would luver you a Big Hung.)

  3. Annika

    I grew up with parents who’d turned their backs on the churches they were raised in because of overly zealous parents (nothing like the Apostle, just your garden variety Catholics and Protestants, but that was more than enough for my parents). As an adult I think they took things too far in the opposite direction, but I don’t feel AT ALL damaged by their decision to keep religion out of my life. I am sad for them that they were damaged by their parents’ churches, but I do not feel deprived. I’ve been to church with my grandparents and I feel that my decision not to attend as an adult is my own, not my parents.
    So I don’t think you’ve done any harm to your boys. They’re having a great time with their grandparents, right? They are able to do that because you have raised them to make up their own minds. You are doing great.

  4. maya

    i hear you.
    i struggle too with growing up under a denomination that is way too strict. my daughter is two and i want to take her to church – i feel i must, that it’s not fair to deprive her of that. i keep promising my husband we will start going. but the dread that fills me when i think of it is too much.
    i have to get it under control soon, though, because i do want my children to grow up with faith.

  5. Nina

    I’m one of THOSE parents. My kids go to church with my mother. The same church I went to for the first 18 or 19 years of my life. They like it, so I let them go. I won’t go because I just don’t feel like having some one yelling at me about what I should and shouldn’t do.
    And if I hadn’t been forced to go for all those years, I might want to go, or I might enjoy it, but it feels more like a punishment to me.
    And the cult thing? My husband is bound and determined to start a cult. Only his wouldn’t be in the name of god. It’d more likely be in the name of porn or sex or something. haha

  6. AmyM

    It’s awesome that your dad finally said “enough’s enough!” because I honestly don’t think most people would do that. So kudos to him.
    You are an awesome person, I’m glad I have gotten to know a small part of your life through stalking you this blog. I hope you will find some healing for your spiritual wounds and possibly use that part of your life to help others. God can use even the worst of things for something good. God is cool like that.
    Thank you for being so open and sharing such a difficult part of yourself with us random Internets.

  7. josey

    Y, i feel for you. i think its great you just got it all out; that’s the first step in dealing with issues like this from our childhood. i really respect your honesty.
    when i was 9, my first grandparent died. i was really confused. my parents werent christians, but i had attended church with my neighbors since i was 5. one day, the pastor came to my house to talk to me about “being saved.” my church was one that believed only their denomination was going to heaven (of course, i was too young to know about that stuff.). when they told me this, i asked them, “so my grandma isnt in heaven?” and, they answered me with a firm, “NO!” no apologies, no compassion.
    i went to church for a few months after that, and didnt again until i was 17 (another long story there). i had no one to help me understand all the complicated issues i was dealing with, and sometimes i want to blame all those circumstances and my parents for my wavering faith as an adult. ive always felt alone. its something im working through, and one day i’ll be stronger for it.
    its awesome you’re thinking about how your childhood “demons” are affecting your parenting. if you feel that exposing your children to belief in God is important, then maybe you could try to go with them. maybe its just what you need to start healing your own self, and im sure it could help you bond with your boys.
    if that’s not in the picture or you’re just not ready, at least you are starting to work through this really painful thorn in your past. i’ll keep you in my prayers if you don’t mind.

  8. Beca

    Wow.. just.. wow. I’m so sorry you went through that, and YAY to your dad for stepping up to him. That is awesome.
    So why not start going with your kids? I’m sure it would be such a blessing for everyone 🙂 I know our church has been a tremendous blessing to our family. It seems to me that God is calling you back 🙂

  9. Miss Britt

    Sweetheart, the fact that you worry – the fact that you THINK about it, a lot – the fact that you actively wonder what is BEST for your children is a sign.
    A very, very obvious sign – that they are going to grow up just fine.
    More than just fine, in fact.

  10. Emily

    Y, I was one of “those” parents too – my boys went to church with my Sainted Mother.
    Until my youngest (4) came home and said “Mommy, I don’t want you to die and get losed. I want you to stay here wif me where you belong.”
    We’ll stay home, kthx. They can decide if they want to be religious when they get older.

  11. Suebob

    I feel so lucky that I grew up with skeptics for parents. Not only were they skeptics who taught me to question everything, but they also were extremely ethical people who always acted in ways that were fair and that reflected their beliefs.
    When I finally found a church I wanted to belong to, they grilled me about it. They wanted to make sure I wasn’t getting involved with something weird or cultish. But I found a church that doesn’t preach dogma to me but that reminds me of good values and supports me in leading a healthy, happy life.
    It is a big world and there are all manner of churches. You don’t have to have one but to me, there is an advantage to having a family outside my blood family. Of course, you might also find that extended family at a knitting club or a soccer team – anywhere you are supported and challenged to be the best you can be.

  12. anne nahm

    … And I’m guessing it is a “no” as to whether “fancy church hat” is ever going to be an appropriate gift for you. :^) Not even if it has those fake little birds and/or sugared fruit? Because you would be smokin’ hot in one of those.

  13. Heather

    I wish people didn’t suck so much! I’m so sorry you had someone like that in your church. Positively poisonous. Good for your Dad for standing up to him, and you for forgiving your Dad even though it was hard. I hope you’ve found a way to talk to God and live a right life that really works for you. 🙂

  14. witchypoo

    I went to church on my own as a child, always yearning for a spiritual connection. I went to one that was similar to what you described, and it left a bad taste in my mouth. Ass Burger Boy showed the same yearnings for a spiritual connection, and went to a similar church. It’s ironic that our menopause/teenage fights were over this church. I told him he had to explore other churches, and he has. Now he is thankful he got away from the nutjobs. I still won’t go, because most churches consider me a Tool of Satan because I read palms and tarot cards.
    I totally feel for you in this. I feel I can be a spiritual being without organized religion. I probably would still go, just to go with him if they didn’t look down their noses at me. How can anyone feel comfortable in that kind of atmosphere?

  15. Monet (aka Birdsboss)

    As hard as it was to go through…you are such an inspiration because you speak your mind and are so real of a person…that’s why i keep coming back and back…love to read how you handle your life…..maybe if you are feeling kinda bad about your boys going is a sign to face some stuff…maybe find your own church you and your family will be comfortable with….it could help with the healing part of it all….i mean you aren’t doing bad but you may want to listen to that…i know that i have been wanting to find a church that is for me…we were raised catholic…then christian…then i felt like churches i went to were so judging and hypocritical…now i am stuck…anyway..good post..made me think i should think about my faith…and maybe next week i will go to church!! did i just say that? 🙂

  16. Laural

    I can relate to this.
    I went to a church where something similar happened. I was in my late teens. Basically the pastor was shunned by half the church who were quite similar – very patriarchal and making their own interpretations of the Bible.
    It was a horrible time for me because I went from being the teen that “everyone wants their teen to be” – going on mission trips, leading youth group, etc, to standing up in the final meeting of the church and saying enough is enough.
    I will never forget the final meeting of the church. It was horrible.
    Congregation members were allowed to stand up and speak. Of course I did – and of course I shocked everyone by saying that I didn’t believe what they were doing to the church pastors had God’s blessing.
    I walked out, and the pastor stood up and walked out behind me followed shortly by our families and eventually half of the church.
    Needless to say I was kicked out of the church with the minister. And got some horrible phone calls and letters (and my parents got some horrible phone calls and letters about me) for months.
    I spiralled into a huge depression. It’s still really raw for me. And I still have a very hard time going to a church. I was 17 at the time, so that was more than 10 years ago. And, I’m not sure I’ll ever commit myself to church like that again.
    I don’t think it’s a God thing, and I do feel God and I are good. But, me and churches – not so much.

  17. bethany actually

    Y, I admire your honesty and openness in this so much. I never had anything like this happen to me. I was blessed to be raised with a great church family, one that taught me the Gospel but also taught me how to think so that I would be able to test for myself whether something is true. But I have a couple of friends who were raised in churches that could almost be considered cults, they were so strict in their devotion to a person or to legalism. And they’re in pretty much the same position you are, of missing church and wanting that in their lives, but not quite being able to trust “church” again. I hope and pray that you will be able to find a great church family again one day.

  18. Shari

    I wondered what in the hell was up with your childhood! Seriously, I thought I’d seen it mentioned on here that you grew up Catholic, but then there was that photo of you looking like a nun from St. Albertine’s and the post about the ruined childhood and I thought, ‘Whhhaaa?’, because that’s no ordinary Catholicism…
    I FEEL for you… and I want to go absolutely Jesus-in-the-temple on all those men (there may be women who do it too, but oddly enough, I’ve only ever seen men) who do this EVIL, namely, interpreting the Bible in a totally legalistic and it’s-never-enough light. I mean, hello, where was JESUS in all this? He kinda laid down his life so we no longer were in danger of never getting it right!
    I knew, just KNEW that any woman who could coin the phrase “the legal and Jesus-approved sex” HAD to have something in her heart from God. *wink*
    I am a Biblical Studies major at university. It is only my first semester, but all the things I have already learned have just turned my world upside down in a very good way. Mostly right now, I want to somehow counter the damage done by men like the Asspostle to women and men like you and your father.
    You haven’t done your sons or your daughter any harm. The one thing that I would say, and this only lovingly and encouragingly, is to maybe see if you would want to read your Bible again. I can suggest all kinds of devotional books that have wonderful insights into the joys of living in God’s love, and none of them are legalistic.
    Imaybe should have e-mailed this… sorry for blarghing all over your blog, but this is a subject of intense passion for me and I am still learning how to keep the reins on it!

  19. Sar

    Isn’t taking your experiences from your life and applying them to your children as best you can called parenting?
    I think most people have something like this going on, an experience in their lives pre-kids that directly affects their parenting. It is normal. We all do the best we can. They are going to get hurt in life no matter what we do, it is our job to make them ready to deal with what comes their way, and to hope it doesn’t happen often.

  20. marjorie

    I agree–it’s so good your dad stood up to that asshole. I’m sorry for what happened to you back then, and I think its good you are revisiting it now. Your kids would probably really like it if you went with them now and then, if only to reassure yourself that church isn’t really that bad. And if there was ever a hint of a cult getting started, you would recognise it in a minute.

  21. sassy

    It is very brave of you to share that story. The same thing happened to my brother. A man began a “church” which eventually turned cultish. By the time he left the man was also calling himself an apostle.
    I read the book “Churches that Abuse” to try and understand it. There is a term for it, “Spiritual Abuse”.
    Sounds like it took a lot for your dad to do that. These people are masters at brainwashing and breaking people down. I am glad he realized it before it was too late.
    And since you have forgiven your dad, it sounds like maybe some of the teachings of Jesus were getting through to you…from the Bible 🙂

  22. Surcie

    No wonder you feel the way you do about church. It’s absolutely sickening the way so-called men (and women) of God have distorted the Bible and the teachings of Jesus for their own benefit.
    My husband is a pastor a mid-sized church in a mainline denomination. But I don’t think church is the end-all-be-all, and I don’t think going to church again will ever fix/solve/heal anything in you. Church is not God. If you never step into another church for the rest of your life, not even God would blame you. If there’s some part of you that still longs to feel close God, pursue God apart from church. Just talk to God. Look for God around you. Maybe you’ll feel led to be part of a community of faith, maybe not. Being in touch with your spiritual side will make a bigger, more positive impact on your children than (your) just going to church will. (After all, lots of spiritually-dead people go to church every Sunday.) It’s also what will help your heart heal.
    I don’t know whether you’re familiar with author Anne Lamott, but she’s hilarious, edgy, and deeply spiritual–reverent and irreverent at once. (A lot of “churchy” types don’t like her, which may be why I do.) She wrote the NYT bestseller, “Traveling Mercies,” which I highly recommend. Reading about her spiritual journey is a wonderful way to contemplate yours–and she’s just a talented writer. So, you have something in common.

  23. Katie

    I don’t believe you must attend a church to be a Christian, or to believe in God, or to be religious. When you think about it – all churches are “led” by someone – and it is his or her words and actions that make the church what it is. As you’ve experienced, a lot of the time those actions may not even be what God had intended.

  24. Amanda

    I can completely relate to your post. I was homeschooled all the way through, and was “strongly” encouraged to wear navy blue and white exclusively. The pictures of you growing up look so similar to mine. It is really great that your dad acknowledged that things had gotten out of hand and put a stop to that nonsense. It is sad how people change the message of Jesus to give themselves more power.

  25. My Semblance of Sanity

    This is a horrible, horrible situation to be in. I feel sad that that one man could cheat you out of the only thing that has gotten me through life (and near death) – God!
    My friend Mimi (you may have read it on my blog) is losing her 4 year old to cancer and she has the strongest faith I have ever seen.
    I pray that your heart will soften. Being angry at God for something Man did can only fill your heart with pain. You deserve to be happy! You deserve to LIVE a peaceful life!

  26. Sarcastic Mom

    Oh, Y… what a nightmare. I’m so sorry you had to experience that. I hope you can find yourself comfortable in a church again some day. I think the fellowship is great if you find a good one. I don’t actually believe that you HAVE to attend a church to be strong in faith… but it sure is nice to have people around you to worship with who support you just for who you are. I think it’s hard to find a church like that… I searched my whole life until several years ago. Vineyard churches were my answer.
    I hope you can find yours.

  27. Krissy

    It’s really scary for me to think about how people easily follow something because somebody claims that it’s the Word of God. I used to go to a church that sounds very similar to yours (except it was in a very rural area of Michigan and therefore even more boring than anywhere you’ve probably ever been). Women were expected to submit to men and basically be baby factories. My mom was struggling with her life because of divorce and starting over and so she accepted this “word” for a while. However, she had the strength to stand up and say that that wasn’t right after a couple of years. I’m glad your father did the same thing. I’m glad that there are strong people who have the courage to think for themselves and say that there are other ways to worship God and live a good life where religion is a part of it. I don’t go to church now because of my experiences when I was little, so I can relate. Thank you for having the courage to write about this. It really expresses a lot of thoughts I’ve been having lately.

  28. Loralee

    I have more anger towards God than my church. After my son died, I couldn’t handle it. God and I are still in a fight.
    Still, I don’t want my issues to be my kids issues. I want them to feel comfortable in church but also want them to know that you can be a good person without it.
    So, I let them go with their grandparents and they love it.
    It’s a tricky situation for our family. I hope that I am doing the right thing, too.

  29. Nila

    I’m so sorry you had to go through that. Most religion is man made and it’s so hard to cut through the crap.
    I’m also one of those parents, but I’m worse because my kids go to church with their gransparents when the grands are in town from December to April. The rest of the year, they’re heathens like us.
    I heard a news story once about kids who attend church regularly and how they do much better in school and stuff. I believed it because I heard it on Howard Stern. But that stayed with me, and I’ve often wondered if I’m harming them in the end. But I doubt it because they’re great kids, kind hearted and full of love. And I think It’s about what we give them at home that counts, that’s where it begins, and those values and morals should be what matter.

  30. Bunny

    Y, I’m so glad you shared this with us. I have been reading you for a long time now and have heard you talk about your experiences growing up here and there in bits and pieces. I’m glad you shared this part of yourself with us and that it paints the picture a little better. I know that you know this, but there is nothing wrong with not going to church. There is also nothing wrong with going to church very casually. Or going somewhere outside of your parents’ denomination. I know you know all that, but it sounds like you need a good strong hug and an invitation to a friend’s church’s no-pressure activity that probably includes a lot of casseroles and desserts made with Jello-o.

  31. Brandi

    I didn’t read through the comments so forgive me if this has already been said. I also feel like a big part of why people join these sorts of religious groups is because of the sense of belonging they often feel. They are among others who make them feel welcome and like they are truly following the word of God in a world gone mad. I joined a religious group in the late 80’s for this reason. I am speaking from personal experience. I also think it’s important to mention that the people who are members of these communities are often good, family-oriented people who truly believe they are doing the will of God. They have been misguided and brainwashed by leaders who are pushing a personal agenda. I give your dad a lot of credit for confronting “The Apostle”. I don’t think there are many who would have had the courage to do that.

  32. Jules

    I am so sorry you had to go through such extreme “teachings” from some whack job they called “The Apostle”. At least your Dad finally came to his senses.
    I left the church when I was old enough to decide myself because of a Sunday School teacher I had throughout my childhood that used to teach us that whenever you were bad or sinned God punished you by making you sick. I used to suffer from migraines and repeated bouts of strep throat as a kid and thought I was a truly horrible person because of what this teacher had said. I also wondered what terrible things other people around us (my grandparents and a friends dad to name a couple) must have done to deserve heart attacks, strokes and cancer.
    There are perfectly wonderful places with kind and normal ministers and teachers but sometimes I feel like its too easy a platform for the psychos.
    I don’t think for a minute that your children are harmed by you not taking them to Church. Not with such an awesome Mom 🙂

  33. Helen

    I am so impressed with your dad…what strength that took to stand up and make such a statement, I am so glad you have found it possible to allow him forgiveness to some degree.
    So much damage can be done in the name of religion, i never can get how people can believe God is anything but kind ond loving, even though I am sure he is firm and consistant. If we love OUR children the way WE do…it’s almost impossible to comprehend how much love He must have for us.
    I hope that one day you can find the way for you to worship and feel the gentle reassurance that is possible when you know you are on the right path for you.

  34. Angella

    Stories like yours make me angry when I hear of what has happened to people at the hands of other people.
    I think your experience makes God angry too. NOT at you (At all!), but at those who twisted His words to cause such hurt.

  35. Mrs. Chicken

    It is cathartic to write this, that is why you sat down at the keyboard. I agree that it is very easy to get caught up in a charismatic leader. I see it happening every night on the news.
    I admire your father’s courage and strength to speak out against a man whose force of personality was driving your church toward cult status. I admire more your strength in forgiving your parents for succumbing. That takes an amazing amount of love, to engender true forgiveness.

  36. Dawn

    That’s the thing about being a parent, we just never know when we have moved too far in another direction. We constantly have to look at and evaluate the choices we make to make sure we have found some sort of balance… it’s hard!
    Only you can make the decision that is best for you and your family. Personally I grew up attending church alone (with other families.) I wished that my family would attend and I always felt so different from everyone else. I longed to have someone to share that part of my life with. Having my family attend with me now is one of my greatest joys!!!

  37. Charity

    Long time reader, rarely post…. but wow. Thank you for sharing your story. My family and myself personally have been on the receiving end when the shunnings were being handed out and it is NOT fun.
    Of course I haven’t been to church in a very long time because of my experiences, but now I’m feeling the need to go back. Why? Well I just got married a week ago and now that my husband and I are talking about having children, I can’t help but feel that my family needs some Jesus. However, I will be VERY cautious as we visit various churches. There is no way I could put anyone through the drama that some of us have had to endure.
    Like so many have already said… it has definitely made you a stronger person and the fact that you are doing what is best for your family lets me know that I will be okay too. Thank you. Your post has really encouraged me.

  38. Sugarplumsmom

    And that is EXACTLY why I don’t go to church. I consider myself spiritual, I consider myself having a personal relationship with the higher power whatever it may be, but I have issues with the church. I have found so much hypocrisy and contradiction, it drives me bananas.

  39. Y Fan

    If you haven’t already, watch this movie (it’s worth the time, ) and decide for yourself if ANY organized religion is a more subtle version of what you have described.
    The first part of the movie is just imagery of what it’s about…you can skip that. But this movie really shows that we need to be freethinkers. So much of what we learn and see in the media, etc. is brainwashing us to believe what they (religious/political leaders) want us to believe.
    And to be fair, here is an intelligent review/critique of the film by Jay Kinney:

  40. mauniejames3

    I’m so sorry and angry for you…it’s just terrible what church that is supposed to be healing and loving can do..I went to the same catholic church all of my life…I got married way too young but in the church and had premarital training the whole bit..then when it became unbearable I separated and moved back with my parents..immediately my dear friend and priest called to counsel me..he told me I thought I was smarter then everyone and was vain about my obvious intelligence..and cruel to my husband who was sorry he had lied and cheated and was gone for days on end..I tried again but it was even worse then the first time..when I went for my divorce I had lost thirty pounds and was skeletal and when I walked into the courtroom there he was sitting next to my ex attest to his character..I left church and have only been back for weddings and broke my heart.

  41. mauniejames3

    I’m so sorry and angry for you…it’s just terrible what church that is supposed to be healing and loving can do..I went to the same catholic church all of my life…I got married way too young but in the church and had premarital training the whole bit..then when it became unbearable I separated and moved back with my parents..immediately my dear friend and priest called to counsel me..he told me I thought I was smarter then everyone and was vain about my obvious intelligence..and cruel to my husband who was sorry he had lied and cheated and was gone for days on end..I tried again but it was even worse then the first time..when I went for my divorce I had lost thirty pounds and was skeletal and when I walked into the courtroom there he was sitting next to my ex attest to his character..I left church and have only been back for weddings and broke my heart.

  42. tori

    My husband was raised by a hard line Pentecostal minister who was also a binge-drinking alcoholic. His mother was completely focused on her husband and whatever he might do next, much to the detriment of her five children. My husband is a good man, a successful man, a good father– and he is totally, how can I say this nicely, FUCKED in so many ways. Years of therapy and treatment for addiction and depression have helped, but at his core he is still so incredibly damaged. I swear, sometimes I think if it were possible to posthumously sue someone for damages I would have his dead parents up on charges in a NY minute. And you know the saddest part? The truth is, if they were alive and sitting in the room right now, I couldn’t help but feel compassion for them. They weren’t monsters, just a couple of hurt people who hurt people. And the heart may forgive, but the scars remain.

  43. nava

    Thank you for sharing this! You’re right, it is SO easy to get sucked into these things. My parents were in a bible study that turned into a cult (so, so slowly). I was raised in it, and when my parents kept standing up to people we were finally thrown out, and our friends and family members were told to spy on us! When they didn’t, they were thrown out too. It hurt, suddenly not seeing the people I had grown up seeing every week, and I hope they got out too, but I also know a lot of people who got out just to turn around and go right back in because that’s the only life they know anymore. As far as The Apostle, we had the same thing happen, and honestly it’s as much the fault of the people around them who keep agreeing without questioning; what are you supposed to do, when everything you say/think/do is ‘right’? Hard not to get an inflated feeling of importance in that situation. gah, angry. still.

  44. WG

    There was an “Apostle” running the church I was raised in, too. He was also the principal of my school. It was Hellish and totally terrifying.
    Thanks for sharing, Y.

  45. Izzy

    Quite honestly, it’s because of experiences like yours that I have come to avoid any kind of organized religion. It’s not God or Jesus up there on the pulpit. It’s a person. A regular old human being like anyone else. I find it very off-putting that people are expected to follow that person without question, lest they be ostracized or called out as a “bad Christian” or what have you. And don’t even get me started on the whole “serve and obey your husband and cover up your dirty, sinful female body” crap. The God I believe in doesn’t subjugate or discriminate against people because of their gender, skin color, disability etc.

  46. Wrybred

    Y, that story about your dad says a lot about him, and something about you. The mostly negative impression I had of him from reading your blog, got a little better today.

  47. JesseeezMom

    Y- I pray that you will find a church where God’s word is spoken- there’s nothing better for your soul to go and hear His word make your cup runneth over, so you are charged up to deal with the week. When my husband and I wanted to get married the pastor of his church told us he would not marry us unless we lived separately… we had a daughter already.. so obviously we did not marry in the pastor’s (i.e. not God’s) church but the country club, I am pretty sure that God still came to our wedding because we are still happily married after 20 years- by the grace of God! When our daughter was young we belonged to the best church (not the one that wouldn’t marry us) our daughter LOVED going and to this day she still goes with us, however we quit attending regularly because every service was completely focused on giving money. Book recommendation: Power of the Praying Wife- It works! I love your blog- Merry CHRISTmas!

  48. amy

    OK, first, how do you read all your comments? Whew.
    I’m really really sorry. I’m a Catholic, I try to be a good one (it ain’t easy!), and I love church. It’s just terrifying that evil people get in, like in your experience. I hope you’ll try again. Most church people I know of any denomination would hate and condemn what happened to you. Most of us want you to come back and feel safe and secure in God’s love. I sound like a nut but I swear I’m not!!

  49. Joe

    You’re not missing anything. Hope your doing well. Try to make it over here to read your blog now and then. I played that IF I HAD A COCK song for a large group of people the other night, like close to forty. They Loved it!!! Maybe we can do a collaboration again soon! Think of something funny, and send me an audio file if you feel up to it.

  50. gwendomama

    wow. that is some seriously whacked shit. that i completely understand.
    when i was 10, my mom had a baby that died. i knew it was god punishing me, because i had CLEARLY SAID that i wanted a sister, not another brother.
    i don’t take my daughter to church. church and god aren’t about love anymore. just about fear.
    my daughter has a pretty good grasp of her beliefs for a 6 yr old. guess it’s a blog theme this week.

  51. Debbie

    What a terrible situation. As a Christian this is so disappointing.
    I really enjoy a song that talks about how much people always look to others for answers when they really need to turn to God for them which it sounds like your Dad finally did. People are not perfect and will NEVER give us what we need. Only God and a relationship with Him will ever work.
    I hope at some point you fall in love again with God and THEN his bride (ignore all the crazy people there-we are just trying to get our stuff together too). 🙂

  52. Jessica

    I just found your page. It sounds like you had a really bad experience. Try just sitting down with your Bible, and reading it, and talking alone to God. If you do that for a few minutes each day, starting for about a week, it can really change your outlook. God will meet you where you are, and change your life!

  53. Liza's Eyeview

    Y, I agree with the comment above (Jessica’s). It’s really NOT THE CHURCH that matters, it’s your personal relationship with God. There’s a verse in the Bible that says “And you shall seek Him and find Him if you search for Him with all your hearts”. God will meet you where you are if you are seeking Him, and I think you are 🙂

  54. jdg

    staying away teaches them something too: when you explain this story, they learn the importance of learning to think for themselves and not blindly accepting orthodoxy. I find the most easily-dismissed religious people are those who have never been forced to think long and deeply about their spirituality, or even have it challenged.

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