Challenging the Toxic Beliefs

21 Toxic Beliefs of a Toxic Faith

1.  God’s love and favor depend on my behavior.
2.  When tragedy strikes, true believers should have a real peace about it.
3.  If you have real faith, God will heal you or someone you are praying for.
4.  All ministers are men and women of God and can be trusted.
5.  Material blessings are a sign of spiritual strength.
6.  The more money you give to God, the more money He will give to you.
7.  I can work my way to heaven.
8.  Problems in your life result from some particular sin.
9.  I must not stop meeting others’ needs.
10.  I must always submit to authority.
11.  God uses only spiritual giants.
12.  Having true faith means waiting for God to help me and doing nothing until he does.
13.  If it’s not in the Bible, it isn’t relevant.
14.  God will find me a perfect mate.
15.  Everything that happens to me is good.
16.  A strong faith will protect me from problems and pain.
17.  God hates sinners, is angry with me, and wants to punish me.
18.  Christ was merely a great teacher.
19.  God is too big to care about me.
20.  More than anything else, God wants me to be happy.
21.  You can become God.

This list was in my packet of info on religious addiction and I found it extremely interesting.  Some of the things on this list are beliefs I KNOW I’ve held at one time and/or have internalized, even if I knew on a rational level that it WASN’T TRUE.  I think a lot of these beliefs are taught in modern churches (moreso in evangelical and fundamentalist churches), even if it’s not an overt teaching, the underlying belief or assumption is still there.  I know I’ve heard #6, 13, 14, and 20 taught before.  I think that explains a lot of my own confusion about what I believe and how I feel about God.  So I’ve looked at this list a few times and asked myself “do I believe that?  Is that a healthy belief?  Is this belief supported by the Bible?  How might I still be clinging to this false belief and what is that doing to me emotionally and spiritually?”  All good things to ponder.

I’ve struggled a lot with #3 especially when it comes to my anxiety issues.  I have heard it said many times before that “if you put God first, everything else will fall into place.”  Which I think is along the same lines as #3.  If I just had more faith, I would no longer struggle with anxiety or depression or temptation, etc.  My sister knocked me over the head and reminded me that that’s “Christian bullsh*t” as she so nicely put it 🙂  It made me laugh though and I think I do have to have a sense of humor as I weed out some of the really toxic beliefs I have clung to and shamed myself with over and over again.

When you become an adult, your beliefs on so many things are challenged and changed.  I feel I am at a place now where I feel confident saying “Hey, I registered as a democrat because my beliefs align more closely with their party and I am still a person of faith and not some crazy liberal baby killer.”  Well I don’t usually say it just like THAT but I am not as insecure as I was a year ago about my changing political views.  Unfortunately my spiritual beliefs have not developed quite so quickly or clearly, and I struggle with guilt over that.  I wish I knew what I believed 100% and that I was comfortable going to church and being surrounded by other Christians.  I wish I felt comfortable talking to God and that I was not so afraid of being vulnerable with Him.  Sometimes I wish I had not grown up in the church and that I was working from a clean slate, but instead I have to deal with what’s on my plate and in my past.

I’d love to hear any of your thoughts on this list and what things you have heard or internalized, or maybe which ones you think SHOULDN’T be on this list.  You can leave a comment or email me (julianests at gmail dot com).

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4 thoughts on “Challenging the Toxic Beliefs

  1. I may email you for further discussion lest this comment become obscenely long, but initially, I think #8 is wrong. I think many problems DO stem from sin in our lives, and can cause things to snowball if we try to hide it, for whatever reason. I think I would combine #8 and #16 to something like “Problems in my life are not a sign that God is trying to punish me.” I think I associate too much cause and effect with what happens in life rather than simply chalking it up to the fact that we live in a sinful, broken world and are affected by our own shortcomings and those of others.

    Also? #14? My favorite (i.e. most aggravating) version of this is “When you are content with being single (or even better, ‘content resting in Him’), then God will bring you that special someone.”

  2. This list is really interesting. I turned it into a fun exercise and attempted to refute each one with either Bible verses or human experiences. Be looking forward to an email with my thoughts on each one! 🙂

    As far as you insecurities with God and your spiritual development, and wishing that you could start with a clean slate, know that no one starts with a clean slate. Even those who didn’t grow up in the church have experiences and beliefs from their past that they have to work through and struggle with as they grow closer to God. And wishing you could be more comfortable with talking to God is okay. I didn’t get comfortable with God in my life until later into college, and I still struggle with letting him FULLY in.

    I, too, wish I knew what I believed 100%. But it’s a process. I may never fully know what I believe and why, but I do know the essentials. And for me, that’s okay. Life is a process, and you have to start somewhere!

    Thanks for sharing and being vulnerable. 🙂

  3. Don’t worry, I’m happy to knock you over the head anytime you need it.

    I can say that 4, 9, and 10 have been tough for me. I don’t believe 4 anymore, but that’s through hard experience–as you know. 🙂

    I think that 3 and 16 go together, and are commonly fed to people who are sick or struggling with mental health issues. It really is Christian Bullsh*t.

    I have to say I look at our parents and know that 3 and 16 are not true. Being a good, faithful Christian is not a guarantee of an easy, happy, healthy, wealthy life.

    I think it’s like that parable about building a house on rock/sand… we all are going to build houses (live our lives) and we are all going to be faced with storms and bad weather. Building our houses on rock (having faith) doesn’t mean we won’t get rained on or lose shingles or have flooded basements or even have houses destroyed by hurricanes… it just means we know there is always something solid supporting us, even when all the walls and things we have built up over the years are stripped away.

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