Family photo 2013

Family photo 2013

Monday, May 26, 2014

On the Cult

Did I ever share with you the story about the religious cult I *forced* my husband to participate in shortly after we met, when I was 20 and he 21, if he were to have the *privilege* of dating *me*?

It's a real knee slapper, letmetellyou. 

He tells it best, really. When he says he wanted me so much he would have done just about anything. He was blinded by zealous lust youth. It's the only possible explanation that makes a shred of sense. Why else would an otherwise intelligent, well studied, smart and resourceful and talented and capable young man bite off such an indulgent piece of insanity pie? 

We remained a full decade, the entire rest of our twenties through the birth of our second child, there. Criticizing the satan blinded world for what they clearly did not realize, for blithely refusing Our Superior God, (did they not know who they were saying no to?!) witnessing the "good news" of of stringent adherence to a wacky version of Bible worship, tirelessly working to recruit, not to increase our dwindling numbers but the save those poor, unassuming wretches from themselves, convincing ourselves we were The One And Only Faithful Remnant, moving The Prevailing Word throughout the obviously needy world. Culting. 

We changed our vocabulary to omit words like "creative" and "hoping" and "trying" because they were not cult approved. We "believed" for this and "believed" for that and we "believed" the confession of belief would yield receipt of our confession. We did not try, we endeavored.

We called those bold enough to depart "cop outs." We had to. We couldn't dare admit they were wise to something we refused to see.

We claimed the promises of God and prevailed in outreach and brought down the devil's strongholds wrestling not with flesh and blood but with spiritual wickedness in high places.

As a young married couple leading a home fellowship we reproved and corrected people with children regarding how to raise them because "the word gave us the authority."

We tossed cliches around like beach balls, nodding in agreement with our fellow cultees over our own carbon copied, cut-out rightness.

We wore the clothes they told us to wear. Sunday best, casually nice, casual.

We turned in our personal schedules to prove we structured our time well. We asked permission for travel. Married two years, we asked permission to have a baby.

Our critiques did not end with the religion free lost, it was most harshly doled out for the devout who did not believe exactly as we did. Those who thought Jesus and God were one in the same, those who drew consolation from the notion their loved ones awaited them in heaven instead of in the ground awaiting the trumpet of The Lord, those who prayed The Lord's Prayer and baptized babies. All those who found themselves outside the bounds of The God We Made.

The cult took a heavy hit when several of its leaders, including the highest acting Man of God was rightly accused of and sued for sexual exploitation of members of the flock. The hypocrisy was exposed, for all to see. But explanations were made to minimize infraction, as they so often are. And though red flags flew and the sting of betrayal wounded, we stayed put. Good cultists, we were.

It's all so utterly cringe worthy to me now.

Though wrought with many years of tear stained regret that burdens and darkens our earliest days spent together, the ones that should have been filled with lightness and fun and the excitement of dating and planning a wedding and merging two lives into one,  I can easily enough understand what led me there, what lured my husband-to-be in, and what kept us for so long. Still.

It's that universal craving for belonging, the comfort of assurance, of knowingness, of being on that one right, most heavenly side. It's the fearful feeling deep inside in the dark of night that a God I can't compartmentalize is simply too scary. The one I fold into The Great Origami Creator and keep in my pocket laden with predictability, that's a God I can trust. It's the notion of security I claim when I am sure I know Him well enough to accurately anticipate His moves, His motives, His thoughts toward me, His thoughts toward those outside me...them.

It all amounts to a pretty massively smug, safe, elitist rush.

When we left the cult, we left everyone, every single one of our social connections, behind. That's the way it works. You are, for all intents and purposes, shunned should you choose to walk away.


More on what came next another day....

Taken on Mother's Day. The frigid day I sharked my kids with 7 consecutive Uno wins.

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