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> Christian Guilt
Witless
post Jul 20 2007, 07:38 PM
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This is a post to people brought up as a christian or otherwise brought up into religion.

I was brought up a christian (though am now a confident and happy athiest). This post is about something that happens in most religions, but I am most familiar with christianity so it's what I will refer to when typing this out.

Christianity is in my mind a very guilt obsessed religion, so much emphasis on sin and guilt. With common themes of asking for forgiveness and having to confess sins are quite prominent in it. I can't say I stopped believing in a sudden revelation, but there was definately a time when I believed, a time I didn't believed and suffered horrible set of emotions (guilt being one of them) and a time when I felt comfortable. I went through all three in my early-mid teens.

However, I still do have this very annoying twinge of what I call christian guilt. It's these moments when all these doubts coming rushing back like a freight train. "What if the reason that I stopped believing is because not believing is the 'easy but wrong road' in life.
Chaos in my head then insues with the rational side of my brain trying to explain (for like the 5 billionth time) why it is I need to stop feeling guilty over these things to which I instantly counter myself by saying that my guilt is proof I am doing something wrong! The problem lies with the fact that my guilt isn't really based on rationality, so it doesn't really get cured by it either.

It goes away after a while, and it doesn't really come up as much as it did in my teens, but it does bug me. It also gets me pretty frustrated at my family sometimes. I feel like all I got out of being indoctrinated into the religion as a child is a case of brain washing that still hasn't 100% cleared from my head. This isn't something I generally talk about mostly because it's a sensitive issue. But my curiosity pushed me into finding out whether anyone I share social circles with feels that similar reoccuring guilt twinge despite their own contradicting belief that they have nothing to feel guilty about. Also, if so how do you deal with it?

P.S. I thought about posting this in personal concerns.. but it's not really a concern.. I just wanted to talk about religious guilt as a subject to be honest.


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gothictheysay
post Jul 20 2007, 08:12 PM
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I don't really have a sense of religious guilt - I was brought up in an environment where religion wasn't a big factor. We celebrate the Jewish holidays, but there's really no pressure. So I can't say I understand you completely, but I do understand the all-too-familiar feeling of irrational guilt. I tend to make very high morals and standards for myself, and if I violate them I feel guilty. Even if I know I shouldn't be feeling guilty, it stays. sad.gif I'm lucky to not have been under the influence of a brainwashing type situation, but I've really done it to myself.


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Righteous
post Aug 5 2007, 04:02 AM
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I grew up in a very Christian household as well, however I am a Christian as well.

Christianity really isn't all that guilt obsessed, though it is often interpreted as such by both Christians and non-Christians. I'll focus on the previous. Guilt is a part of life, regardless of your religion. Most people feel guilty about cheating on a diet, lying to a significant other and using harsh words against a loved one. I once read a book where the author explained the difference between guilt and shame, guilt being useful as a motivator to make a change while shame being a destructive emotion (more on that later).

Dispite all that, I also believe that there is unjust guilt in modern Christianity. When I first became a Christian at fifteen, I went through a crisis, being obsessed with being "perfect" and feeling uber bad whenever I messed up. It was resolved within a few months and I figured out a few things. First, most of the guilt I had was put on myself unjustly for bullshit reasons. Second, a lot of the "guilt" was really shame and me doubting myself as a person and as a Christian. It took me a while to fully internalize these ideas (all that fear, doubt and "what if they're right?" feelings remained for a long time) and I sometimes even still feel unjust guilt, but overall I'm a much happier person and more secure in myself and my faith in God.

I think a big source of unjust guilt, in the States at least, is "conservative" Christianity. I live in the south where conservative Christianity is rampant. A lot of it can be summed up as "You're going to feel guilty about X, Y, and Z because you're not good enough. What you do is bad and if you're any different from us, you're worthless." Essentially, the very attitude Jesus came to fight.

As for your "Christian guilt," Witless, I'm not in your shoes so I really don't know. I still get illogical guilt over stuff, even after having this realization for almost seven years. No, it doesn't go away logically. It takes a lot of time and, for me at least, a lot of prayer. Is it indoctrination? Perhaps. It could also be people preying on the weaknesses of others out of their own unjust guilt, so they like to ruin everyone else's fun. I can't fathom the idea of such guilt being a part of a legitimate relationship with God. Such guilt keeps people away from Christianity and redemption than a part of it.


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Radaga
post Aug 9 2007, 12:55 PM
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Christianity does have some branches focused on guilt and shame because it used to be (and still is, in some circles) a religion to keep people in check.

During the middle ages, Christianship was used to keep peasants from straying out of what the clergy and nobility deemed their rightful places, and the clergy also used it to grant that the nobles would behave properly at matters where .they were concerned

Most of eastern religions didnt mingled that much with earthen matters. In some aspects, it even detaches completely from it. For instances, a Samurai, once in disgrace, or, to use the current term, once in shame, had the option of becoming a dishonored outlaw, commiting suicide, or shaving their heads and entering the budhist monastery.

If they pursued the latter option, no disgrace would fall overt them or family, and they would be considered as starting a new life.

So, in my point of view, infusing someone with excessive shame and guilt feelings is primary an effective mean to control them. Religions should concern mostly with getting people closer to understanding the divine aspect of world, not to make them fit into a pattern that is supposed to please such deity. Personally I think God have better things to do with His time than looking over everyone´s shoulders all the time.


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michael1384
post Aug 25 2007, 06:11 PM
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I don't beleive in God sometimes. It's just the fact that if Gods so great, why does he need millions of people to worship him non-stop. Also, you never know where you are with god. Loving God, vengefull God, Loving God, vengefull God. But I do feel some guilt at times for not beleiving in him, I feel like an ungrateful brat sometimes for not beleiving.


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sirdudly
post Sep 2 2007, 05:38 AM
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From what I remember, giving thanks comes up more in the Bible than any other concept. I don't think a loving God wants his people to feel ashamed of themselves for existing. I think that he wants people to be glad for what he gives and use his gifts to help each other out.


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I_am_the_best
post Sep 2 2007, 11:13 AM
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My mother being Jewish and my dad an atheist, I was brought up with a choice. However, instead of choosing one or the other, somehow I managed to choose both so now there are two of me: Jewish Emma and atheist Emma. This is very frustrating because I change between the two frequently, and can be both several times each day. Even though Judaism focuses more on celebration and making the right choices in the first place, I do feel very guilty having broken Jewish rules when I was being atheist, and when atheist, I look back at all the Jewish things I've done and feel like a bit of a fool and wonder whether there is any point. So to answer the question in short: yes, I do feel guilt but not because of my upbringing, because I cannot decide which path is the right path.


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