the painful truth about the worldwide church of god

Choices

Russell M

I don't know how familiar you are with mathematics, topology, and spatial configurations - I have to admit to only a passing familiarity with the subjects myself. But I do know that there is a difference between a line, a 
square and a cube.

If you are a one-dimensional creature on a one-dimensional line, you can moveback and forth at will upon the line. You can go forward and backwards, but never left and right or up and down. Even worse, you won't know that there is a left and a right, or an up and a down, because they won't exist to you.

But a line can expand in two dimensions to a plane. The line is a part of the plane. Suddenly you can look at your former home with a completely new viewpoint. And you have much more space to explore. The line, which was at one time your entire world, now appears horribly constricting.

But even that's not the end of it - you can expand the plane to a three-dimensional space - a manifold, if you will. The same caveats apply.

I remember as a child there were a large number of rules regarding church that you simply didn't question. You didn't talk back to anyone in "authority". 
You always put on airs of being better than you were. You never let on that you might wonder or have questions. You never strayed from the party line. 
You never, ever talked during services. And so on, and so forth. There were different rules for adults, and more rules for different castes of people. 
But you never ever thought of breaking the rules, no matter what. You even felt funny getting up during services to use the restroom, for pete's sake!

But what would have happened if one day you woke up one morning and thought "why am I following all of these rules? What would happen if I broke them? Why am I scared of breaking them?"

Then your line would become a plane. And you'll never look at the world the same way again.

What is an interesting thought exercise for me is to think about what it would have been like to walk into services and intentionally break as many of the written and unwritten rules that I could think of. Raising your hand during services and asking a question. Talking to your neighbor in a low voice during services. Playing with children and making them laugh (I actually did  break this rule more often than not, that's a funny story, and at the time I thought it was funny all the dirty looks that the people around me were 
giving me). Questioning what you were taught. Bringing some work to services and doing it while the minister talked. Bringing pork rinds or doritos to church and crunching away during services. Things that would have been (for the most part) allowed during pretty much any other meeting, lecture, etc., but were strictly forbidden in that environment.

We all know what would have happened - it probably would have resulted in forcible eviction - but that's not what it's about. It's not about the consequences - it's about the implications. Suddenly, the rules seem silly, 
and the dysfunctionality of the church environment becomes clear. You have left the line, are now on the plane, and are looking at the line from a different perspective.

And that is when you walk out and never come back.

I wish I could have done that as a child. Even as a child I think I wished that. I wished that I could have walked out of the meeting hall and done what I wanted. I didn't know what people did on saturdays, but I knew that I wanted to do them. But now I am an adult, and I can. If I don't want to observe the sabbath, I don't have to. If I want to eat shrimp and pork and other things that groups like the flurryites would take great offense to, I can. And I do. If I want to believe in god, I can. And if I don't want to believe in god, I don't have to.

It is healthy to question those who would assert "authority" over you. It is healthy to ask questions, and it is healthy to consider the answers to be unacceptable. And it is healthy to walk away if you aren't comfortable with a situation. In other words, it is healthy to make choices, and healthy to have the freedom to make your choices. And if any person or group attempts to take your choice away, or your freedom to make your choice away, then you should run in the opposite direction as quickly as possible.

The armstrongite groups that spun off from the "unreformed" WCG have one thing in common. They don't believe in choices. Their entire worldview is based on the concept of removing as many choices as possible. The only choice that you have, in their view, is to go to "heaven" or go to the "lake of fire". 
Once you accept the thesis that that is your choice, and that they are the gateway to "heaven", then you really have no more choices. You do what they tell you. You restrict yourself - or are restricted - to their line.

Since I was raised in the WCG since 1975 (when I was born) until about 1998 or so, there is of course a negative visceral reaction to any kind of religion. But, when I manage to get beyond that, there is one simple truth that pretty much guarantees that I will not ever give any WCG spinoff the time of day 
anymore. I want my choices. I will have my choices, I will make my choices, and I and only I will live with the consequences. And I will not allow anyone to take that freedom from me ever again. If I have to break every 
religious rule in the book in order to keep this freedom, if I have to offend every single religious person in the world in order to keep this freedom, if I have to make enemies of everyone who is an enemy of my freedom to make my own choices, I will do it without regret and without hesitation. That is what was very nearly taken from me forever, and that is what will never, ever happen again.

The xCGs don't want anyone to make choices. They are unhealthy. They are dangerous, as any organization that exerts that kind of control is. They always have been. That's all I have to say.

- --Russell

 

 

 

 

 

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