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Love Jesus or Burn Forever in Hell… You’re Basic "Love Me or I will Kill You" Religion
“Love Jesus or burn forever in hell.” I first saw this beautifully encouraging statement emblazoned on a barn roof in rural South Carolina. Actually about where I would expect to find it.
Boy does this bit of encouragement speak to the either/or mentality that goes along with many fundamentalist teachings. So this is obviously the lesson for the day. EITHER love Jesus, which I guess means confess him, promote him, and do all that he is thought to have said and taught, or burn, not just burn, but FOREVER in hell. Wow mom, what a choice and even better, what a reason to love Jesus! Listen out of sheer fear of destruction. Spirituality doesn’t get any better than this!
In fact, this would be like me, a loving parent, telling my children, either you love your daddy or I’m going to kill you and not in a good or easy way. Any parent reported to have said this to a child would be arrested and likely lose custody of the child. But not “God.” of course. Now, no true God would ever have such a misguided “these are the rules of love” mentality and this is more a reflection of a man who found it sweet or menacing depending on the desired effect. That’s also bullshit.
The Bible often provides Taliban-like solutions for loving children. A “stick of correction” is sometimes advised to resolve children being children. It turned out to be a real hit in modern child rearing results. Opps, nuther pun! This stick is supposed to “drive him away from them.” It can be used for anything from disobeying “god” to disagreeing with dad, even though dad is wrong again. Of course, it’s a rule used to control and keep the tribe happy. In fact, it makes them turn inward and resentful, or complacent until they get a chance not to be.
Why if we are lucky enough to live until Jesus comes again, we can see that even He is coming with a great big iron rod to subdue His people and all men. He rides a white horse, no doubt, and hurls plagues, vials, trumpets, and trombones at the world until we all scream in pain, “OK, OK, you win, we love you.” Is it impossible for such gods and descendants to organize seminars or classes on why we as humans can do better and live more peaceful and meaningful lives? Hitting never seems to work. Will we forever be motivated by the fear of a good beating and comply, or, as I like to remain, “sit on the outside but stand up on the inside” and be duplicitous? I guess if we don’t come up with another way to be and think.
We are even told in the Old Testament that as parents we should gather all our courage and stone our rebellious children to death. Great idea! It has been the chosen winner in effective child-rearing practices throughout the history of the human family. Of course, no parent of those children would become old enough to have them under those guidelines either, but that’s another question. What a great time the parents must have had when they actually threw stones at their children, not only to scare them, but to kill them! Do you know how long it takes to be stoned to death? A long time.
Mom must have been beside herself with joy when she saw a child begging for help only for Mom to say “huh! You think that was a great shot, just watch this!” Maybe dad actually helped mom kill herself more, because that’s not the kind of thing most parents practice. Or who knows? I wonder if they went out to dinner that night and talked about how they could have done it better and whether or not they were going to miss Schlomo. I wonder if dad kept a rock on the mantelpiece and whenever one of the surviving kids screwed up, looked at him lovingly and gave the kid a knowing smile? Perhaps the Old Testament parenting classes included a segment on “Effective Stone-Making Techniques Should the Need Arise.”
In fact, for a parent to be required by religious law to stone their own child is incomprehensible to me and certainly not the teaching of any true god. No, these are pretty much made-up gods with made-up rules to instill fear. Definitely your “Love Jesus or burn forever in hell” mentality. So please don’t stone your children for being human and forget the iron rod.
There’s a lot of “love me or I’ll kill you” religion on the planet these days. Other forms of this ridiculous idea are “Listen to me or I’ll kill you.” “Trust me or I’ll kill you.” And maybe, “Hug Daddy, or I’ll choke your guts out.” All very effective and sincere expressions of deep understanding of true love and compassion. It almost brings tears to my eyes to think how loved I am with this kind of love just waiting to be poured out on me.
Well, just kidding anyway. “Love Jesus or burn forever in hell” is a pathetic statement of what is wrong with fundamentalist religious thinking. Everything is based on fear, shame and guilt. Its key motivator is fear of consequences if you don’t comply, and it often doesn’t work or elicit sympathy or encouragement. I would like to meet the children of anyone who would paint on the huge barn roof, this little biblical advice from the wise. I wonder if they ever came home to the farm for Thanksgiving or Christmas, or Dad’s birthday? I wonder if they even send cards? I wonder if they are close to their parents or enjoy their company and perspective on how life works and what to do when it doesn’t seem like it. No, I bet not. I bet these kids were stoned to death a long time ago.
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