My cousin is getting married on Saturday and, weddings being a huge cause for celebration in my family, I have ahead of me a week full of parties and relatives. This means I also have a week ahead of me full of fundamentalist Christianity. I don't mean to make this sound like a complaint. I love my family and I love weddings. The only problem comes when I have to nod and smile through their rather depressing tales of faith.
I had one of those incidents tonight.
One of my relatives works in the medical profession. She is one of the kindest, most loving people I have ever met. I have always aspired to be like her in all ways save for her religiosity. That being said, her religiosity is very prominent. Tonight, she told my mother and I a story that she clearly felt had happy ending.
A while back, a woman came to her for a check-up. She returned for her results and found that some of her stats were a little below normal. My relative recommended moderate excessive, perhaps a daily walk. Upon hearing this recommendation, the woman confessed that this would be impossible. The patient was married to a former prisoner who was abusive and controlling. He would not allow his wife to leave the house by herself of even to answer the phone. She would receive calls from friends which she would answer and say she would call back later. She was never permitted to do so. This woman was allowed to go to work, but only if her husband dropped her off and picked her up. My relative was devastated because this patient's life was a living hell. She offered to pray for this woman and gave her a copy of an evangelical Christian devotional book.
A few weeks later, that same woman returned to my relative for a follow up. The woman felt much better. Unfortunately, her emotional state had not improved because she was free of her husband and his abusive behavior. In fact, her home situation hadn't changed at all. But she had found God. This woman had decided that even though her life was hell, she could endure it because she knew it would only be temporary. Now that she had a relationship with Jesus, she knew that after death, she would have an eternity of happiness.
My family members looked upon this story with joy. All I could do was bit my lip and hold back tears. I do not blame my aforementioned relative for the outcome of this woman's situation. I blame Christianity. My family members are good people who only want the best for others. Yet because of their evangelical beliefs, they have been taught that the best gift you can give someone is that of faith. As a result, an innocent woman will never escape a terrible abuse situation. In fact, she has learned to be satisfied with it. When she dies, there will be no paradise, no real escape and a horrendous person will get away with mistreating his wife. Christianity did not lock her in this prison, but it certainly threw away the key.
How can people still argue that "giving people hope" is an inherently good thing?