While the birth of my first child and subsequent experiences led me to cease to actively follow Christian Science (CS) doctrine I did (and do) still turn to many of the platitudes espoused by Christian Science when dealing with problems that arise. I find the language and the step-by-step problem solving process comforting. Even though I no longer actively practiced CS, I still worked with a Christian Science Practitioner (CSP) and read CS articles to over come the traumatic events that surrounded the arrival of Kid1. I continued to work with a CSP during my pregnancy with Kid2.
Kid2 was about five months old when the Mormons arrived on my doorstep. I was struggling with less-than-adequate sleep, being a full-time mom of two very active children, my husband was often away for work for 2-3 days at a time, the upcoming holiday season and I needed someone to talk to.
Elder Fox, and his side-kick Elder the Short One with Glasses* arrived completely out of the blue. I have always been curious about other religions and I’ve met missionaries in passing in the past, so I invited them in to see what they had to say.
As we chatted it came out that Elder Fox (who was a bit towards the older end of missionary age) had a crisis of faith and had come back to Mormonism. He asked me some very pointed questions: was I happy? did I miss my life before I became a SAHM? what was I looking for? why were the issues of gay marriage, abortion and family planning important to me? I side-stepped their questions, I wasn’t really in a place to deal with them, they scared me and dredged up issues I wasn’t quite ready to deal with. They gave me a Book of Mormon, urged me to read it and a few pamphlets, and invited me to the Christmas activities at the local church. I didn’t slam the door on them, so I think they thought I was going to convert.
I tried to read the Book of Mormon, gave up and skimmed the chapter summaries on the official church website. Instead I turned to the Bible. I hadn’t actively read the Bible since college, and even then, I’d mostly read it for my required religion class (we were required to take at least one), or when a roommate was particularly insistent that we read the weekly Bible lesson together.
For those of you unfamiliar with how the weekly Bible Lessons work a committee at the Mother Church gets together and picks passages from the Bible and Science and Health which they feel correspond well with the week’s Lesson. Whole chunks of the Bible are over looked, and while each week is “unique” certain segments of the Bible feature more prominently than others.
So I started to read the Bible. I was well acquainted with the Genesis 1 story of how God created man in his image and likeness, and the story of Adam and Eve being cast from the Garden. CS taught me that the story of Adam and Eve was simply a dream that Adam never woke up from, and we were all God’s Perfect Spiritual Ideas:
Science & Health 306:32
The parent of all human discord was the Adam-dream,
the deep sleep, in which originated the delusion that life
and intelligence proceeded from and passed into matter.
This pantheistic error, or so-called serpent, in‐
sists still upon the opposite of Truth, saying,
“Ye shall be as gods;” that is, I will make error as real
and eternal as Truth.
The further I read into Genesis the less I liked the God that was in charge. In the Old Testament God demands human sacrifices and the burning of non-believers**: Genesis 22:1-18, Exodus 13:2, Judges 11:29-40, 1 Kings 13:1-2, Deuteronomy 13:13-19. In Numbers 21:6 he sends venomous snakes to bite those who have turned away (God does later provide an antidote so they don’t die), but through out the OT God cruel, jealous and vicious.
This was not the work of the loving God I had been raised to believe in – but it is all part of the Adam Dream – right?
I have heard the argument that God was just doing what needed to be done to protect the 12 Tribes and “preserve the bloodline to herald the coming of Christ” so he could redeem us from our sins, but honestly the OT God sounds more like an angry, jealous boyfriend that needs to be dumped, not a caring parent trying to keep stray children in line.
In the New Testament God doesn’t get much better. He impregnates Mary without her consent, and tells her after the fact via an Angel. Being unmarried and pregnant is a stone-able offense, thankfully Mary has “faith” that God will take care of her, and he does, by pressuring Joseph into marrying her (so she won’t get stoned). That’s rude.
The NT God then goes on to sacrifice his own son – I remember learning in Sunday School that Jesus referred to God “abba” which modern translators have taken to mean “daddy” signifying a very special relationship. I too have a Daddy, and my kids refer to my husband as “Daddy.” I’d like to think my father WOULD NOT SACRIFICE ME, and my husband would NOT sacrifice my children. That would be a HUGE VIOLATION OF TRUST. The job of a Daddy is to keep children safe, not to throw them to the howling mob. I wouldn’t want God as my father, or to father any of my children.
Things in the Bible are dodgy at best because it has been over 2000 years since all this happened and there’s a lot of who-said-what-when, and when was what actually written down, and translated, and picked over by the Catholic Church.
I started writing down questions, the more questions I had the more distressed I became. I thanked the Missionaries for their time and well-meaning invitations to church functions, and informed them I was not interested in converting, not then, not ever. Elder Fox and Elder the Short One with Glasses eventually ended their mission, I’m not sure what became of them.
When I was finished reading the Bible (not all of it, but a fair bit of it), I was left feeling conflicted. The Bible didn’t line up with the loving God I’d learned about in Sunday School, I wasn’t descended from one of the 12 Tribes of God’s Chosen People, and I didn’t want to have an angry, jealous God who went around killing his own beloved son with whom he was well pleased. Clearly the God of the Bible and I needed to part ways.
*names have been changed – “Elder Fox” looked a little like the actor Lawrence Fox
**I am guilty of using pull quotes out of context, something that I hate, but even in context this is not a warm-fuzzy loving God.