Healthy Pride

554a90ba8310d789ccbbe0f3f5616383Recently I have found it much easier to express myself verbally, and I’ve done less of that thing where I second-guess my thoughts into oblivion and never say them. I’m actually able to say what I think without trembling with fear for five minutes first.

When I was a Christian, I would have attributed this to God. A miracle, I’d say, that I’m overcoming the inhibitions of my autism and finally leaving depression behind.

Now I know better. I know that the mental freedom I’m gaining, and the peace I feel, is not because of religion. It’s partly because of my psychiatrist and medication, and partly because I allow myself to think freely (which did involve putting Christianity behind). In doing the latter, I was able to finally let go of the harmfully self-degrading ideas of humanity that Christian doctrine requires.

Christianity has a strong focus on destroying pride. And I don’t mean arrogance, I mean all pride. I’ve heard people criticize the use of the word for expressing support for an ideal or human trait…American pride, gay pride, black pride, etc. The problem with this is that such a negative view of all forms of pride can damage people’s ability to empathize and do good things.

As a basic noun, pride is a feeling of pleasure or satisfaction with your own achievements, or the achievements of people you are associated with. It is closely linked to joy, delight, and fulfillment. It doesn’t mean considering yourself or your group to be better than others, any more than enjoying chocolate ice cream means you think vanilla is worse. That would be arrogance, not mere pride.

Most conservative forms of Christianity insist that joy and fulfillment are only possible if their God is actively involved in your life. So to be proud of anything you do is wrong, since anything God isn’t actively involved with is evil. You would be taking satisfaction from something God made, instead of God himself.

Not that I think there’s any difference. If you are proud of your child for playing the piano, it really isn’t any different if you think they play it well because of God, or simply because they’re dedicated. In the end, regardless of which view is correct, the child played well, and that’s what you’re proud of.

The bible says to rejoice always. To rejoice in the truth. If the truth is that your child is able to play the piano, rejoice in that, and whether or not you believe the ability came from a god, you’re still doing the right thing.

Christianity would have you debase your own desires, thoughts, emotions, and abilities, to the point where anything good you do is only because of God pulling your puppet-strings. It’s a depressing way to live. I mentioned a while ago that it was the simple act of recognizing I didn’t have to lust automatically that suddenly freed me from a budding addiction to porn. I wrote in my second article about being a deist that the doctrine of depravity is effective at keeping people within the religion because believing you’re a hopeless sinner is a self-fulfilling prophecy…you won’t stop sinning as long as you believe you can’t.

By preventing anyone from guiltlessly taking joy from the good aspects of their own human character, this sort of Christianity keeps them trapped in an endless cycle of feeling worthless, trying to be good, failing, apologizing, and feeling worthless again. If you ask some hardcore Reformed Christians, this is how it should be. I mean logically, if a true Christian is supposed to feel bad when they sin, and everyone sins all the time, then a true Christian should feel bad all the time.

If they listened to their own Bible, they’d find in 1 John 3 that a “true Christian” knows they have confidence before God if their heart does not condemn them. But of course, that can’t be true because [insert list of contradictory verses here] so we need to remember [illogical argument of how that verse doesn’t really mean what it says].

The core of what keeps people stuck in Christianity is the devaluation of self, I think. How can you step back and consider it objectively if you don’t trust your own ability to reason? How can you honestly search for the truth if every piece of information must be filtered through the Bible since your own mind is supposedly screwed up? If you take the evidence to its logical conclusion, it should lead right out of Christianity, because nearly every piece of evidence in favor of the religion is based squarely in your own mind. And you can’t trust your mind. It’s evil.

Peace comes not when you throw all your worries on an imaginary friend. I’ve tried that, and felt momentary relief, but nothing ever changed. It was an endless cycle of trying to have a relationship with someone who never responded to my messages, and rationalizing to the point where I was imagining responses that fit what I needed to hear.

Peace came when I accepted myself for who I am, flaws and strengths and all. True pride in humanity, and thus true joy and peace with yourself, is being satisfied with who you are, not existing as a cynical wretch who can only look forward to a vague future promise of greatness.

Christians say the atheistic ideology is empty and sad, but I can think of few things more depressing than seeing the world as absolutely devoid of goodness aside from an invisible spirit who provides no solid evidence that he exists or that the scripture he supposedly inspired is true.

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